I John 4:16 NKJV
John 13:34-35 NKJV
From the Beginning
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t in church when I was a child or a teenager, but my first constant memories of being in Sunday School and hearing stories about Jesus happened when I was four years old.
What I remember most was my Sunday School teacher. I remember feeling like she cared about me. At some point when I was four years old I had my tonsils taken out at the hospital. I think that might have been scary because in those days parents weren’t allowed into the recovery room. However, my Sunday School teacher from my church was allowed in the recovery room. At the time I didn’t understand the reason why…I just knew that she cared about me and she was with me when I woke up after the surgery. I wasn’t afraid when I woke up because she was there.
I also remember my throat hurting and I remember being promised I could have ice cream. When I woke up I started asking for ice cream because I love ice cream. As it turned out it was quite a while before I could have ice cream. I remember feeling like the doctor didn’t exactly tell me the truth. It’s funny, what we remember, isn’t it?
I found out when I was an adult that my Sunday School teacher from church was allowed into the recovery room because she was a nurse at the hospital. I also found out that my Mom was really upset she wasn’t going to be allowed to be in the recovery room and so my Sunday School teacher told her she would go sit with me.
Since a four year old in 1957 wasn’t given much information, I was told the whole story later in life. All I knew the day I had my tonsils taken out is that my Sunday School teacher cared about me.
That day, she became the hands and feet of Jesus.
Her presence in my hour of need became part of my faith journey. To a four year old, when she told me Jesus loved me, I believed He loved me. I didn’t question Jesus’ love for me because someone who cared about me said it was true. My dad told me the same thing so that made it true for sure.
In I John 4:16 we learn, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
Looking back I think it was remarkable that my Sunday School teacher just happened to be on staff at that hospital and she cared enough to come sit with me that day.
I consider all of that a miracle.
Another important part of my early faith journey came about because I sat with my parents in church. I would sit by my dad and every Sunday when my dad would take communion, he was very quiet and very still. He would clasp his hands and pray with his eyes closed. I had a sense that every time he took communion, it was as if Jesus was giving him a part of His body and blood. I knew it meant a great deal to my dad and so it became important to me. I knew my dad loved Jesus and believed He was the Son of God.
When I was nine years old I remember watching other children I knew go up front at the end of the sermon. They would talk to the Pastor and after that I knew they were baptized (at another service). Around Easter that year I started feeling like I wanted to go up front to talk with the Pastor. I was scared but the next Sunday I felt like my heart was pounding so hard it would burst if I didn’t go up front.
What’s strange about it is that I didn’t talk to my dad about wanting to go up front. I just jumped up and went up front to talk to the Pastor. I don’t remember what he said because My heart was pounding so hard. I remember telling the Pastor I loved Jesus.
Later I was baptized. My Pastor told me what would happen and he explained what I needed to do. I put my hand over my nose so I wouldn’t choke on the water. My Pastor helped me to feel safe and secure because he took time to talk to me.
My Pastor also said he loved Jesus and Jesus loved me.
He served as an example of someone other than my parents and my Sunday School teacher who loved God.
As I grew older there were many other people who became the hands and feet of Jesus to me.
My personal faith journey eventually became filled with people from many different denominations and beliefs about God. Somehow I came to a point where I appreciated and celebrated how other people worship God.
I learned that God is everywhere and loves everyone regardless of how they worship. I don’t pretend to have all the answers about God but I do think God loves all of us.
I believe that God IS love.
I think loving one another and caring for each other is essential.
We know from Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is the driving force.
That’s because God IS love.
I could be wrong but I don’t think much else matters to God. As I read scripture I have found that all roads lead back to love.
When we love one another, I mean really love one another, people will know we belong to God and we are His disciples.
People will see Jesus is in us by His love.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Love Another
Either pray for someone in love, or be the hands and feet of Jesus for someone today.
In God, Deborah