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Childhood reflections with a touch of grace: When wood-paneled station wagons invade

As a young lad, I grew up in church, though my parents took me only on occasion. They often had to work on weekends, so church attendance was sporadic. I was blessed to live within walking distance of a church, so I attended when my parents were busy.

At first, church was mostly a social activity. The spiritual stuff didn't seem as important, especially since my Sunday school teacher fell asleep in the choir every Sunday. I always wondered if he might fall out of the pew, or at least have a peppermint roll out of his slightly opened mouth. I never saw anything happen but I may have been distracted because I was often fiddling with the spongy soft communion cup holders from the pew in front of me.

What got my attention didn't happen in church. My friends and I often played football in a vacant lot near my home. One afternoon, we were in the heat of battle when a wood-paneled station wagon came screeching into the middle of our game. A man jumped out with a sense of urgency and called us over to him. He quickly shared a brief history of his life and implored us to seek a personal relationship with Jesus. He then prayed over us and drove off. We never saw him again.

That was the beginning of my sincere spiritual journey. His concern created a new awareness in my heart as to the reality of eternity and my need to be in right relationship with God.

Taking things seriously and preparing for the future weren't very high on an 11 year-old's mind but an odd occurrence like interrupting a sacred football game will get your attention. It's a good thing that man approached us that afternoon because dark days were just around the corner for me and this new foundation would be critical for getting me through the coming storm.

None of us like it when life gets messy, but Jesus promised that all of us would experience difficult periods capable of shaking us off of our foundation, especially if God wasn't at the center of it. He describes Himself as a foundation made of unshakable rock, so strong that nothing could move a house (life) that was built upon Him.

Have you ever stopped to consider that God is okay with your life being shaken, even to the point of having deep questions about your faith? Being shaken can be a good thing; it's moving that we should avoid. During one of Jesus' more difficult teachings about the cost of discipleship, many of His followers fled to easier ground, leaving Jesus behind. When Jesus asked the disciples if they were also leaving, one wise reply was, "Teacher, You alone have the words of life. Where else can we go?" That is a great example of staying power when you might not like what you are hearing or living through.

God is great at using the unpleasant circumstances that shake our lives to bring us to a better understanding of our priorities and deepen our trust in Him over time. This process may take much longer than you wish, but if your roots are clinging to the rock that is Christ, you will not only make it, you will come out stronger than before.

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