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When I was born, I was baptized catholic, did my first communion, and attended catholic school for a couple of years. We left the catholic church, and then my mom spent the better part of my childhood basically dragging us kids to just about every denomination of faith known to man (or at least it seemed like it). We never really attended one church or one denomination long enough for me to get anything out of it, nothing any of them ever said made ANY kind of sense to me, and I was resentful of the constant spiritual chaos we always seemed to be in. as I got older (high school age, roughly), I started REALLY questioning if there even WAS a God, and pulled even further away. As a response to this, my mother used to basically get in my face and scold me, “you better get right with God!! or you’re going to go to hell, and I want you in Heaven with me!!”. All this did was tick me off and make me NEVER want to pursue anything spiritually.
When I became an adult and got married, I saw all the absolutely UNBELIEVABLE trials and hardships my family as a whole went through, my husband and I included. My husband became ill, then became VERY VERY ill, which took it’s toll on us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially, and I found myself flopping between being VERY angry with God, and deciding that there was no way there could EVER be a loving God that would put us all through all of this trauma. As the years went on and his health declined, I decided that i was agnostic, but very much teetering on being atheist. Anytime the subject of God, Jesus, religion, et al, came up, it hardened my heart even more, and I was even more sure that i was agnostic/atheist.
Through a series of events way too lengthy to get into here, we ended up having to move out of state to a place we’d NEVER been to before, and as a result of this, my hand got forced in that my children were signed up for Sunday School at an LCMS Lutheran church, nobody even asked my opinion or asked if it was ok that this was taking place. More resentment. I went to the service a couple of times, because my kids were going, and I felt myself softening, but VERY confused.
When my husband passed away at the age of 39, my sister was scared to death that I was going to go completely off the deep end and become a full blown atheist. But – my pastor asked if he could come over and do a “face to face” with me at my house, and we talked about EVERYTHING – my husband, his illness, my faith (or lack thereof), my doubts, etc. He did this several times, but he never “preached” at me – it was just a very matter of fact conversation, in terms I would understand, and he answered EVERY question I had, and then some.
Listening to him, and the way he explained things to me, all of a sudden, everything clicked into place, everything made COMPLETE sense. Nobody had ever before taken the time to do this, to fully explain it so I would understand it, and go over it again and again if I DIDN’T understand it. I can honestly say, a light went on, almost as if God had taken a 2X4 to my head and everything became crystal clear.
After that, i CRAVED learning about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and what He had done for us. I was sure I was too far gone, I couldn’t be forgiven, that I would be forever lost, but pastor told me the truth. Even though I had already been baptized as a baby, (and the Lutheran faith believes in only ONE baptism for the remission of sins) I explained why i felt it necessary for me to be baptized again – I went through the adult confirmation classes, and got confirmed when my kids got baptized, during the regular church service – but I went, during the week when nobody else was there, and had pastor baptize me again. When he did the sign of the Cross on my head and on my chest, I very literally and honestly (I’m not exaggerating) felt my insides were on fire, and I knew beyond a doubt that the Holy Spirit had touched me, literally, physically, in a very profound way.
I am telling you all of this because I didn’t just decide to become an LCMS lutheran – God led me to this denomination, to this church, HE was the one that brought me to it – but this was what was necessary for me to finally see the Truth…..if you are searching, i implore you, pray about it – pray deeply and sincerely and often – and God will lead you where you need to be…..pray for a Biblically sound church, one that believes that the Bible is THE Holy Word of God, one that believes that we are saved by FAITH, and not by WORKS…do this, and you will not be steered wrong….
Praise be to the Holy Triune God – thank You for guiding me, thank You for giving me the words, thank You for sending Your only Son to die for me and for all who believe – thank You for not giving up on me, thank You for saving this wretched human being from a fate so much worse than death….Amen.