About 2000 years ago, a woman gave birth to a boy in a little town called Bethlehem. He was born in a stable and his first bed was the feeding trough of farm animals. As an adult, He never traveled more than 90 miles from his home. He worked as a carpenter with his father. He never become involved in the government of his day, never led an army. He only preached for about 3 years about the love of God for his children to a few thousand people. He healed their sick and told them to love God and one another. He was killed at the age of 33 falsely accused and convicted as a criminal. And yet this man is the cornerstone of my religion.
I grew up going to the Baptist church as a child. I stopped going (like a lot of people) in my early twenties. I had started college and found myself questioning all aspects of my life, from religion to my career goals to my relationships in my family.
My father loves to recount a story about when I was just about 5 and we were working in the garden. We had been learning about the Jews being God's chosen people in the bible, but I was confused at how that could be if they didn't accept his son. I asked my father why that was and he leaned on his hoe and just looked at me. He thought for a bit and answered, "I don't know..." I got that answer alot growing up from sunday school teachers as I learned more and more.
I did alright for a while. I finished school, got started in my life, but every year Christmas time got harder and harder to make it through. My family was fragmented and never got together during the holidays, so Dad and I were usually on our own. I would get tears in my eyes listening to Christmas carols in the radio. Because music, especially sacred music, was such a part of my life because of all the choirs and music training I'd been through, Christmas was especially hard.
When I decided to go back to church I started going to a church with a friend. Her father was my Sunday school teacher. He was a very smart man, well educated, and took time to answer some of the questions I had about my returning faith. Being involved in a church again restored an aspect of my life that I had missed, but been unable to name until then. But I was still being plagued by unanswered questions and unsatisfying answers.
When I finally settled into a church home (Grace Presbyterian Church) and started singing in the choir, I began my long walk back to Christ. I struggled most of the way and, as I like to point out, God has a spiritual 2x4 to smack stubborn people like me. I involved myself and I started to see changes.
It was about then I discovered something. The adults that I assumed my whole life understood all about Christianity, were actually just as lost as I was. Most people couldn't answer the questions I had either. Then I discovered something else. I didn't care. I don't know what pieces fell into place, or what I started doing differently, but I could sleep at night. I had friends that really cared about my well being. I found career related things working out in ways they never had before. All the fragmented pieces of my life started to fit. And then I met my wife Hala.
Of all the things I have done or said, the act of marrying my best friend is the one thing I never expected, do not deserve, and thank God for every day. I have set aside this space on my home page to testify that I love the Lord with all my heart. That I love my wife with all my heart. And that if you have found yourself in a bad spot, don't break your mind trying to understand it, just go to church with a friend and get involved. Try it for a month. Spend time going out and helping people with projects like "Habitat for Humanity" and local thrift stores and social programs. I don't promise all the answers will come to you, because they still haven't for me, but I do promise that you will find you can sleep a little better, that a weekend will become more than time off, and that you just might find that you have a friend in Jesus.
My wife and I are members of St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Orlando where I am also active in leadership and the music ministry. I am going to use this space to evangelise the framework in which I have discovered the few answers I have found comfort in. It's not a lot, but it's a start. Here is a list: