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19 December 2008

I received a brief bit of guidance today from Pastor Ted about how to prepare for the Bible study group I will be involved in beginning the end of January.  He told me to read John and then Acts.  I know this much is doable in the amount of time I have between now and the beginning of next semester.  I would like to, at some point, feel as though I know the Bible inside and out.  This will take years if not decades–probably my entire lifetime.  Maybe none of us ever knows this great Book as well as we want to–with so much meaning and such great depth, it’s doubtful that even the pope knows it all.  I’ll learn a lot in seminary, but that’s still a few years off, so I’d better get on with it.  I know my husband is surprised that I don’t know it better than I do, having become such a dedicated Christian in recent months, but even more since I have been one for a good long while now.

I truly became a Christian on April 7, 1996 and was baptized in the Holy Spirit in September of that year.  At that time we were attending a community church in Hershey-area, and we considered ourselves “United Christians” but really, my family was for a long time non-denominational.  In some ways, I still consider myself that way, though I suppose that I’ve taken a more Wesleyan-Methodist approach lately.  I had to remind Aaron that I wasn’t raised from birth in a church the way that he was.  In fact, though I surely knew of God, I never really remember hearing of Jesus until Annie mentioned Him to Tommy and me the very first time we met her.  The frankness of her question still sticks with me to this day, “Do you know Jesus?”  At the time I must have thought, “Who knows Jesus?  He lived like 2000 years ago, girl!”  At the time He wasn’t present in my thoughts daily, or really in my life on any level that I recognized.  I don’t remember ever going to church before we came to PA – perhaps we did, perhaps we didn’t.  That’s not really what’s important now.  That day, April 7 1996, was the anniversary of Annie’s death from leukemia (and the birth of her eternal life with God in Heaven), and that day isn’t one I will ever forget.  I felt compelled to step forward among others in the church that day.  I know that Annie was there with me as was Jesus–and that that figure who always seemed such a mystery, no longer was.  If Annie could have asked me on that day, “Do you know Jesus?”  I could forever there after answer in the affirmative.

It was later that year that I became ill and later still that I was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia.  I don’t wish to dwell on that fact, instead I’ll just say that there is a real, present, almost palpable reason why things happen when and how they do.  We moved to Pennsylvania, to the house next to Annie’s for a reason.  For me, it seems to have all–every experience of this life–led to this point in time where I decided that I must serve a purpose in God and bring His word and words of comfort and faith to fellow believers and non-believers alike.

I don’t know if there is any one true religion.  But I do know that there is one true God and we all have our own ways of getting to Him.  I certainly believe that Jesus really is the way, the truth and the life.  As I’ve said, however, I don’t want my faith to ever be a barrier in my mission to help all of God’s children, whether they share my beliefs or not.  We were given free will for a reason, and I respect all people who hold some faith in a Higher Being.  God knows I have enough hurdles to leap over in my life, my belief and faith in God need not be one of them.  It ought better to be a bridge.  As I learned reading Anne Rice’s memoir and have experienced through the years from the many great people in my life, Jesus–God–is all about love.  Believing in God needn’t be something that keeps people apart, but rather a binding love that brings us–all of us–together.

I certainly hadn’t planned on getting into all of that tonight.  It’s almost 2am.  But, I suppose, when you feel compelled to write, you must do it.  My birthday is Saturday and I will be out of town for the weekend to celebrate with my husband.  In the event that I don’t get to write again before the big day, I do sincerely hope that everyone has a lovely Christmas!


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