A few weeks ago our worship leader was talking about how he was a hermit with a cold heart until he came to our church. My church has had a similar effect on me - my church history is pretty dicey. I thought I'd share some of my history, starting with how I came to know Christ.
I grew up in the church. I never remember not going to church. My parents were always very involved and we were there anytime the doors were open. Yet with all of this attendance, in junior high I found myself sitting in a service with an alter call wondering where God was. The entire thing had seemed very contrived to me. And so I sat there, challenging God to prove to me that He was in fact really out there. I told Him to prove that He was real.
Nothing happened. I sat there with an emptiness in my heart.
A few months later (I don't recall how many...maybe as much as 6 or 12?) we had started attending a Saturday service. The church was huge. But this Saturday service was a very small group led by two folks who were there with a servant's spirit. I don't recall their names but I do recall their faces. They kept it real and I loved that. It was the only service I actually prompted my parents to go too.
One evening we discussed prayer. I recall them telling us that prayer was simply a conversation with God. And they discussed that a good way to start was a matter of sitting in a quiet space. They told us that God would in fact speak to us if we made the effort. I took this as a challenge. So I went home and sometime in the next week I sat down on my bed. I read a little bit of my Bible, closed it up and told God if He was real I wanted Him to talk to me.
I sat there, with my eyes closed for an eternity. I pushed every single thought out of my mind...each and every one that popped in. Including those words that were from God. When I finally realized His voice was a small whisper, I sat there in disbelief. I had spent the last half hour pushing his voice out of my head! Once I got past that, I began to recognize His voice. It became easier and easier to distinguish between myself and ... not me.
He talked to me.
It was the beginning of my relationship with Him...something like two new found friends beginning to get to know each other. Sometime after that (my timeline is a little fuzzy), I went to a camp where we would sit outside in the quiet admiring His work and listening for Him. It cemented it all together for me.
And the rest is really history. I have had many many adventures following Him. It hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows - He doesn't ever promise that. But I've always been taken care of...even if I didn't like the manner in which He took care of things. ;-) And He has been there every step of the way.
God is my friend.