I have become a Lay Speaker for the Methodist church. This is both terrifying and exhilarating. I am now certified to be able to give messages to groups of people on matters of faith and Scripture. I have spoken to groups of nursing home residents and once to members of my own church, at the Sunday afternoon service.
I say messages, because it seems presumptuous to say sermons. I have not been to seminary. But the Lord in His wisdom seems to think that since I love to write and talk, He can use me for good. At least that's how I choose to look at it. I can't see being all proud of myself and boasting that I know so much. That would be, as one of my favorite authors, Judy Connor, says in her book, Southern Fried Divorce, "biggetyspeckled". You just know what that word means.
Along with giving messages, I am trying to listen and watch for them as well. I finally concluded that God reaches us in as many different ways as He made different people. Since He made us, He knows each of us intimately. He knows how we learn, how we "get it".
My degree is in Occupational Education, and I had to take quite a few classes on how people learn. Some are auditory learners, and get it when they hear the teacher say it. Others are visual - they'd better write it down or draw themselves a picture or a map. Still others learn by kinesthetics - by the feeling, hands-on doing of a task.
I used to read about some people's experiences with God. Some said they heard the voice of God. Some had beautiful visions, angel visitations. Some had awful accidents and woke up in a hospital with a realization about God. I was envious. (Well, not of the accident victim...) God had revealed himself to these folks in an unmistakable way. After that, they had no doubt He existed.
How neat, I thought. I wanted my very own vision, voice of God experience. Having grown up in the Presbyterian Church, I never heard of anyone I actually knew that had had that "born again" type experience.
In high school, I talked with a girl who was of a more fundamental faith. I told her, when she asked if I was saved, that I really wasn't sure. I asked her how to get saved. I wanted that rock-bound certainty about God. She gave me the basic formula. "Get down on your knees and ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your personal Savior."
I couldn't wait to get home and lock myself into my room and do this.
I prayed to be saved. I didn't feel anything right away, so I prayed harder. Still no feeling, no voice, no hand patting my shoulder, no certainty. After a while, I had tears streaming down my face and I was begging. Still. No. Feeling.
I finally had to get up and go to supper. The next day I found the girl I had talked to and told her I wasn't sure it had worked, I didn't FEEL saved. Without missing a beat, she looked at me and said, "You must not have been sincere enough."
Well. I left her, feeling very upset and more confused than ever. I was sure I had been sincere. Why had I not gotten the certainty of salvation, the feeling I wanted so badly. After a while, a thought occurred to me. It was, "She's only sixteen, too - what did she know?"
Gradually over the years of my life, I have come to realize that God knew me very well, and knew that had I gotten a huge feeling, I probably would have thought I was losing my mind. He knew that was not the way I understood.
Instead, He has reached me through experiences with people and things I read. He has put people in my life to help me understand; He has shown me things to read that further my understanding. I talk, I read - and I have learned to listen for God.
God loves me. He knows me. He does speak to me. In His own way and in mine.
I think that is why He allows all the different faiths. So that maybe, if we listen, we can all "get God".
My prayer for you is that you will get Him, too.