Tomato Soup, Crackers, Grizmo, mrsgriz, Faithwalker… All of these have one thing in common. They are names or “handles”. Used on radios or in chatrooms, they identify users to others when they communicate. The last two are mine. I use them in Christian chatrooms instead of my given name. My husband used “Grizmo” for years so I decided to be “mrsgriz.” I know, I know, not very imaginative.
After a ten year hiatus, I ventured into the chat world once more. I decided a new ‘handle’ was required. It would need to reflect my walk in Christ as well as my journey to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. That is a lot of expectations for one word, I know. I thought hard and prayed hard.
My road to salvation was an interesting one. No, I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and I do not have stories of jail time to fill the pages. I said interesting not captivating. If you want captivating, talk to my husband.
I am the case of the lost, ‘religious’ soul you hear about sitting in the pew on Sunday. I was the epitome of the “perfect Christian” girl. I started attending church before I could walk. I went to Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Children’s Choir, Sunday Worship, and Wednesday Bible Study. As I grew, it expanded to Bible Camp, and Church Youth Group.
I walked the aisle the first time when I was seven years old. My Sunday School teacher had been going over the “process” of becoming a Christian all month. She said the last step to being “saved” was going forward to talk to the preacher. Well, to my seven year old mind, I could do that. Both of my brothers were “saved” and I felt left out. My mom is my choir director and all my friends are doing it! I scampered down the aisle to the front of the church that Sunday. Whew, I was “safe,” and was baptized shortly thereafter.
Things continued on as usual. I kept going to church, going to school, and then our world fell apart. In a terrible thunderstorm a few weeks before Christmas, lightning struck our house in south Louisiana. Fire and smoke destroyed almost everything we owned. In an instant, we were dependent on others to survive. I had no clothes to wear, no roof to sleep under, no pet to cuddle. I had nothing left but my family around me. I did not understand much during that time except one thing; fear.
The day we moved back into our new-constructed home was a day of mixed emotions for all. Dad came home from work a few months later and announced that we were leaving New Iberia. To my childhood mind, I was being taken away from everything I knew: my friends, my Aunt Nola and Uncle Paul, my school… to enter a strange, new world and we would leave that summer. Fear became terror.
Adapting to a different culture is difficult but being so young, in actuality, helped. The thick Cajun accent was discarded by the wayside. Soon no one would ever know I lived south of Alexandria (the demarcation line for Cajun country in Louisiana). Teasing and hazing was handled with the appearance of a brawny older brother, his method of resolution never revealed even to this day. It was a new place, full of new things.
It was in Wyoming that I walked a second aisle. Why? For rededication, of course! Attending the church youth group, we were discussing this topic and baptism at length. Knowing I had made the “profession of faith” as a child, I still felt “safe” but I was confused. I could not remember getting baptized. My family reassured me and I believed them but should I not remember something THAT important? My youth pastor and I discussed my feelings and he referred me to the senior pastor.
I am going to tell you something right now. Dr. Buddy Hinze is an awesome man of God. I love him and his wife, Sue, with all my heart. He counseled me and put a lot of things in perspective. I have lost many memories before the fire. I was very young and it was a horrible experience. He told me that if my baptism was that important for me to remember then, by all means, do it again! I answered all of his questions with all the right answers so he was convinced I knew who Christ was. (I did say I was raised in the church, right?) So, I was dunked in the baptistry to walk away, reassured once again.
Moving on… The high school years hit and I drifted. The terror of a looming move was replaced by apprehension of future life decisions. The protection of my brothers crumbled as they departed to begin their own lives, in the Army or at college. My parents bickered and fought, using me in the proverbial tug of war. I had health issues that could not be cured, and above all, I hated my life. I felt lost, and alone, and, for the first time, I became aware of something missing.
After years of seeking comfort from friends and activities, I found myself in a Christian Singles Group. I had come full circle. A friend asked me to go and I attended out of “obligation.” After all, it was I who had introduced her to “religion” so many years ago. It was during this group that the Lord spoke to me and I will never forget the words.
“I am right here, Renee. I’ve been waiting for you.”
That night during prayer, I cried and cried. I asked Jesus to forgive me for all the wasted years and to please come into my heart and save me! I cannot explain the incredible feeling of joy and relief that came over me. It was like I was flying! Hugs and kisses abound and everyone was as happy as I was. There was no condemnation or judgment. No questions of why or how, just joyful celebration. Welcome for a wayward sinner into the fold.
I had head knowledge. I knew scripture and could recite it at will. I had spent the last eighteen years learning the right words to say for any situation. I could convince almost any Christian that I was one of them. I did not do this vindictively but because I believed it myself. That night, I discovered the difference and I took my first step as a believer in Christ. I began my walk of faith.
If you were to ask me the difference between before and after, what would I say? Trust
You see, faithwalking entails a certain element on our part. It is called trust. After we become true believers in Christ, we pour all of it onto Him. We trust everything we were, are and will be in Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Trusting requires faith, faith that the object of our trust is worthy. Placing your trust in something unseen is hard for this world to understand. Do it anyway.
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Do you notice that there is an action required? Yes. It is not faithsit, or faithsleep, or faithgaze. It is faithwalking. Now, you can call it faithrunning if you want to but I do not have that kind of stamina.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
All in all, it means we live by faith. We function through life, completing our daily tasks, leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus. Every little leap of faith we take strengthens our relationship with Him, building our spiritual muscles. Faithwalking through struggles not only testify to our walk with Christ but can instruct us in valuable lessons for future trials down the road.
James 1:2-3 (NIV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Are you a Faithwalker? Does each step you take land in faith?
Maybe you are still sitting in the pew, like I was. Head knowledge does not save you but there is good news. Jesus paid the ultimate price and all the stories are true. Listen… Do you hear Him calling?
“I’m right here. I’m waiting for you.”
In Christ Always,
Renee(Photo courtesy of Stock Free Images)