Posted by: gmscan | May 18, 2010

How I came to Christ

My family was Presbyterian when I was a child. I did the usual things – Sunday School, youth choir – but never paid much attention. I fell away as an adolescent, being more interested in girls and cigarettes than in religion.

Still, I loved the music and continued in choral singing for many years. I was in the choir in high school and a special group called the Madrigal Singers. Later I would join a community chorus that specialized in singing the Master Works – Requiems by Bach, Brahms, and Faure, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and of course, Handel’s “Messiah.”

I never had much doubt about the existence of God and felt the connection many times, especially in nature during walks in the woods or on the coast of Maine where I lived for a long time. The rustle of a breeze through the trees or the roar of waves breaking on the rocky coast would remind me that there is something wondrous around us.

I married a woman who grew up Catholic but she had fallen away from that tradition, too. We would take our kids to services at Easter and Christmas, but I never prayed, never read the Bible. Church was more of a cultural than a spiritual event.

I never doubted that religion was important, but it was never something that drew me. I always thought that it was something that required, or should require, more of a commitment than I was ready to make. I once met a minister who told me that I was a Christian if I smiled when the sun came up. That deeply offended me. I thought what kind of religion is that? Surely it must mean more than that. Surely it must demand more of believers than that.

After we divorced, my now ex-wife became more involved in the Church and sent our kids to Catholic schools. I decided to convert to Catholicism to be better in touch with what the kids were doing. I took the catechism classes, but even there it seemed more a cultural phenomenon and I was pretty disappointed.  It was mostly about ritual, and while that had an appeal, it was shallow. It didn’t demand much and didn’t expect much. Where was Eternity? Where was Salvation? Where was Jesus?

These milquetoast approaches to Christianity seemed insipid to me. They were bland incantations designed not to offend anyone.

On the other hand, I was also afraid of Bible thumpers and slick TV preachers. They all seemed too sure of themselves and too ready to condemn or exploit people who were unsure. When I married again my job was to find a minister to do the ceremony. I was terrified of calling preachers in the phone book. I was afraid they would decide to convert us and make our lives miserable until we came around to their particular vision. We ended up with a Unitarian. I figured that was safe because they don’t believe in much and don’t much care what anyone else believes, either.

So I was torn between fear of fundamentalists on one hand and scorn of the wishy-washy mainstream religions on the other.

Yet, I had a sense that something was missing in my life. I was professionally accomplished, and very happily married. I was earning decent money. Our material needs were comfortably met. We were healthy. We had friends and involved in our grandson. I was approaching retirement and looking forward to spending more time in my community and reading all the books I never had time for before.

It was these books that woke me up. But it wasn’t really the books. They were just the way God found to get through to me. It was a constant tapping on the shoulder. I guess I’m not a very quick learner because it took quite a while and a whole lot of books.

——

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Responses

  1. Excellent Greg!

    GOD bless your effort. GOD bless America.

    I believe/know you are right.

  2. I accepted Christ as savior as a small child and had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home with parents who walked the walk at Church, but, more importantly, at home. Though I have taught Sunday School and sung in church choir my whole life, my husband and I look forward to weekly Bible studies where we dig deeper into God’s word. It is his living word and there are new revelations daily. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” I am always pleased when someone finds Christ and discovers a new life and purpose. May you enjoy the journey. With much respect and admiration. Beverly

  3. Greg:
    I am glad you have taken up this project.
    I, too, am “torn between fear of fundamentalists on one hand and scorn of the wishy-washy mainstream religions on the other.”
    I was raised Jewish, but found little meaning other than a way to accumulate friends.
    I came back to Judaism via studying the New Testament and joining a Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
    After going to “church” on Sundays a few months, I felt a tinge of Jewish guilt.
    Thus, I started regularly attending a liberal (reform) synagogue.
    That was back in 1999.
    For the last 3 years, I have been attending an orthodox synagogue, Chabad, which is a mystical form of Judaism.
    Combining the orthodox, fundamentalist type of Judaism with Unitarian Universalism has been a wonderful blend for me.
    It keeps the two “balanced” in my opinion.
    I also have a great deal of respect for Christianity, but I have more theologocal problems with it than I do with Judaism.
    Shalom,
    Don Levit


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