Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 17, 2004

Mr. Standfast's Crazy (former) Church: The Back-Story


I've only been a member of two churches in my life. The first was the LCMS kind, very liturgical and even slightly high-churchy. It was in my neighborhood, and it offered evening services. It kind of embarrassed me to go there at first, because I'd spent my life scoffing at church-goers, but something had happened to get me turned around. I suppose I should tell you about it, since it provides some explanation for how I wound up in this crazy church for eight years. So:

Funny how God apprehends us when we least expect it. Kind of runs us down. No, that's not right, we're running, but he's not. We run and run and run, and he remains right there beside us, not even winded. Anyway, I had this experience. I used to call it my conversion experience, but now I think it was only the start of that (I did my conversion on the installment plan). Anyway, this God-thing happened to me on my front porch one day, and for me it was utterly convincing, powerful, unquestionable.

Actually, I had been getting ready to curse God. I was steeped in frustration, unhappiness, the usual stuff-my kids weren't speaking to me, my wife had about given up on me, I was angry all the time and didn't know why. So I guess I'd come to the end of my rope. Although I'd scoffed at Christians for years, and considered myself an agnostic--God, if he existed at all, which I doubted, was certainly unknowable--I opened my mouth to curse this unknowable and probably non-existent God for all I was worth. And as I did so, as my tongue began to form the words, the unknowable God decided to make Himself known. And all at once I found myself in a very unusual position--on my knees. How did I get there? Next, the curses that my tongue and vocal chords were just then forming had turned to the words, "I'm sorry, God." And at the same time I had the sensation that light was flowing down from heaven, throwing through the very walls of my front porch--not through the windows, mind you--through the walls as if they weren't there, although I could still see them.

Well. when this experience was over--I think it only lasted a few seconds--I understood a few new things about God. First, simply that He was. Next, that He was concerned for His name and didn't like it to be smeared in the mud, as I was about to do. Also, that He loved me nevertheless, and was concerned about me. All that kind of implies another thing that I immediately understood about God--I didn't use these words at the time, but in retrospect I would say that I understood that He was holy, that He was all-knowing (after all, He knew that I was about to curse Him), and that He was a kind of person. That is, He had a personality. He was knowable! And He had deigned that day to show me something of His character.

Well, some time went by after this. I kept the whole episode to myself, but walked on air for a week or two. The special feeling faded, though, and things got back to normal. My kids still weren't talking to me. Frustration settled back over my life. But now I knew there was something I could do. Secretly, embarrassed to admit it to even my wife, I began to investigate churches. I took opportunities to attend weeknight services, not letting on to my wife. I started reading the Bible a little. At this point I really didn't know what Jesus had to do with anything, but I felt sure He had somethingto do with everything. What I had had was an experience, but my faith was very small, very uninformed, almost non-existent. The only difference for me at this point was that instead of fleeing God I was seeking Him. Or at least I'd stopped running. So in much ignorance I stumbled on, trying to get back to that moment on the front porch, and that feeling as if I myself was of central concern to a God who was pure light and pure love.

Well, so that's the back-story. Eventually I would suggest to the Lovely L. that maybe we should go to church together. She said, Funny, I've been thinking the same thing. And I grab a phone book, pick a nearby church that offers evening services--and voila! We are church-people!

4 Comments:

Blogger rebecca said...

I am so glad you're letting us in on this story!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I agree with Rebecca ... looking forward to the rest of the story ... sounds pretty awesome to me ... really got your attention, eh. Thanks for sharing Bob.

I'll be back .... for the rest of the story :-)

Paul

11:29 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Awesome to read, Bob. Somehow I missed your "dervish" and had to catch up with it, too. I loved the angle, but am simply loving the read....period. Peace, my friend.......Jim

8:00 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Great testimony!

7:47 PM  

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