Saturday, October 10, 2009

Love for God is a gift, not a given

I was brought up in a non-denominational Bible based church, and it never felt right to me.  I tried branching out by going to Methodist and Baptist services, but they never worked either.  And the thing is, I really wanted it to.  I loved the ideas behind Christianity, but my skeptical mind wouldn't allow me to fully accept Jesus Christ into my heart.  But for some reason, it just didn't seem right to me.  Church was a hollow experience - I place I went to Sunday mornings for an hour or so.  I told myself I believed in God, but I really didn't.  At least, not in the true sense, which I'll explain in more detail later.

A couple years ago, as my father was dying of cancer, I had a couple of life altering experiences that told me that there definitely is an afterlife, and God is very real.  Now, my spiritual transformation didn't occur overnight, but that was when the seeds were sown.  I still had no desire to go to church, but I wanted to figure things out for myself.  I really wanted to believe, to have a realtionship with God.

My fiancee is a cradle Catholic, and had been wanting me to go to church with her on Sundays.  I absolutely DREADED the idea of going to a Catholic Mass at first.  I had been to an Easter Vigil once, and a midnight Christmas Mass before, and while I can appreciate what beautiful services they were, they're... different for an outsider to the Catholic faith.  Now, being a non-denominational Christian, I had a LOT of preconceived notions about Catholicism.  And the bulk of it was flat out wrong. We're friends with another couple that are pretty much our mirror images.  Missy is also a cradle Catholic, and Jason is... I'm not sure what.  He's not Catholic, yet I'd always see him making references to going to Mass with Missy on Sundays on his Facebook status.  That's when I realized, that's part of being a good husband and partner, and if I wanted to be the same for Sharon, I needed to at least make an effort.  So I began going to Mass with her every Sunday a few months ago.

The first couple of times I went, I felt like an outsider.  I didn't know any of the hymns. I didn't know when to stand up, when to sit down, when to kneel.  I didn't know any of the things the congregation recited other than the Lord's prayer, and even that threw me off because the priest stopped just short of the last couple of lines and continued to speak about peace.  I was confused... but riveted.  Father Lange was the Mass celebrant that day, and he really sucked me in by speaking on the Eucharist during his homily.  I had never heard the concept.  I was intrigued and wanted to learn more.

Missy recommended I read Catholicism for Dummies, and Sharon got me a copy, and it was a very interesting read to say the least.  It started me on a path - I even decided to attend RCIA class which began in September so I could learn more.  I had absolutely no intention of converting to Catholicsm, but I wanting to know more, and be supportive of Sharon in her faith.

About a month ago, I had what can only be described as a true religious experience.  All those years I had searched for God fruitlessly, but when I least suspsected, He finally spoke to me.  More accurately, He had always been speaking to me, I've only just now figured out how to listen.  And at that moment, I knew I was finally on the right path.  I've never felt more at home in any church than I do now.  There's no doubt in my mind that I will be up there on Easter Vigil this year, renouncing Satan and all his works.  I am truly grateful to Jesus Christ for the suffering He endured to pay for my sins.  I finally can say that I love God more than life itself.  The Holy Spirit now fills my heart and mind, and I'm FREE!  Free from the burdens and worries and stress of every day life, because I've learned to truly trust in the Lord, and let Him do the heavy lifting.  Because believing in God isn't simply believing He exists.  It is having total trust in Him to help you at the lowest points in your life, and thanking Him for all the blessings He has bestowed upon you.

I've also learned that having a true, genuine love for the Lord isn't something you can force, and you can't teach it.  You have to feel His love and presence for yourself.  Until you do, you'll find yourself questioning Him.  A couple years ago, I not only didn't belive in God, I outright denied His existence.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

So,this blog is going to be the chronicle of my spiritual journey.  Thanks for reading!

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