THE MAKING OF A BOOK
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PART 3 Significant Things
August 1973, I became the only practicing Christian in my family. My mother exposed me to Catholicism when we lived in Germany but stopped attending church after we returned to America. I learned nothing about God in the German Mass spoken in Latin, and had never been in a protestant service until I walked into the storefront church with my friend.
The constant awareness of God’s presence subsided the day I walked into a church. There was no one else to be my pastor, so my father in Heaven, who had marked me for adoption, cared for his infant child. The pastor and his family were good to me. Whenever they went out to eat after a service, they included me, even when they were entertaining guest speakers. And they taught me what it meant to be born again. But to this day, fifty years later, I wish I could return to those first six months when it was just me and God.
My new way of life irritated my parents. “I’d rather have you on drugs than involved with this Jesus stuff,” sneered my father. “You are going to go blind reading the tiny print in that Bible,” chided my mother. Concerned I was involved in a cult, they forbid me from attending church. Then relented after attending a service to decide if I could return. They were not interested in my newfound faith, but felt it was harmless.
Several significant things happened during my first three years of Christianity. Before I walked into the church, I had three dreams that gave me the same sense I had about The Cross and the Switchblade. I did not know what it was, but those dreams were different. I later learned that God speaks to people in dreams.
One Sunday, the church had a guest speaker. I stood at the back of the church alone. I don’t remember why I had remained after everyone left except the pastor and his wife who were in his office. The guest speaker approached me with an unusual statement. “God just revealed to me that one day he will use you in ministry.” I did not have a clue what that meant, and entering ministry had never entered my mind. I walked home pondering his statement, and remembered the dreams, but brushed the thought aside.
Months later, a friend visited, who I had not seen for a long time. He told me about a strange experience he had at work. One of his co-workers was the guest speaker who told me God would use me in ministry. He had approached my friend and said, “One day, you will be a great help to someone God will use to relieve the suffering of a lost and dying humanity.” Again, the dreams came to mind. Again, I brushed aside the thought of becoming a minister. I later learned when God tells you something, he always confirms it.
I was still socially awkward with few friends, so I filled my lonely hours reading books about God. The leaders of the Word of Faith Movement wrote many of those books. They had a seductive message, and scriptures to support their beliefs. I devoured their books, thinking if I had enough faith, I could create a better life with my words.
According to the faith teachers, God wanted us healed. I believed God paid the price for my healing, so I tried to use my faith to correct my nearsightedness. I reasoned if I really believed my eyes were healed, I had to act like they were healed. After a church service, I proved my faith by throwing my expensive glasses in the trash. My act of great faith impressed some in the congregation, but my faith wasn’t so great. I walked around squinting for days.
My parents had more common sense than my church. They demanded I retrieve my glasses from the church’s garbage can. My mother scheduled an eye appointment. I was sure I would have 20/20 vision when I took the eye test. I went home with a new pair of glasses, and the first clue that my concept of the meaning and purpose for faith was distorted.
TO BE CONTINUED…