It has come to my attention that a few folks are a little weirded out by my recent “conversion” to Christianity. For clarification, I was raised Christian. I was off in the wilderness for a long time but I’ve come home. I dabbled in neopaganism but I was never all in. I wasn’t a pagan believer (that feels as weird to type as it probably does to read). I had a LOT of books because I was fascinated by herbalism, mythology, and all of that stuff. The worshipping of many gods and all the ritual/witchcraft, etc etc. was never anything I participated in.
For a short time in my early 20s I did, very secretly, self identify as a neopagan. I eventually got bored with it. My late 20s and early 30s found me starting to drift off into agnostic and even dipping my toes into atheist. But all my walls have one weakness. We named him Jasper.
We’re a bit isolated out here in Sweetwater, the land of cows. I’ve never had a lot of friends to begin with but moving just far enough to be inconvenient for everyone (including me) has made it that much more lonely. I’m not worried for myself but I was worried for my boy because he loves to play with other kids. He was going to need a community. Where am I going to find kids for him to hang out with on a regular basis? Kids that had a similar foundation.
I started looking into going back to church only because of him. God, of course, can work with any and everything; including a stubborn woman named Beka. I don’t even remember the exact progression but I found a podcast which led me to a church in California. That then led me to a sermon which led me to the bible study which led me to another sermon which led me to the prayer of salvation which led me to “Ok, God, this whole thing started because I need a local church. I need a church. Here. That I can walk into. And be part of. That will be ok with the level of work I am going to need. Oh and the boy too. Please. Thank you.” (I think that was almost exactly how that prayer went. Yes, I do everything awkwardly.)
This was on a Sunday (July 27th) and over the next few days I kept my eyes out for my answer. I googled. I read reviews of churches (seriously, who does this? who is going to leave a church a bad review?). I couldn’t find anything out here in Monroe County that was clicking with me. Then on Wednesday of that week I had to go to Maryville on a service call. Something in me was saying keep your eyes open. It’s coming.
One of the sermons I had listened to during this journey was about the prodigal son. How the father didn’t wait for his son to come all the way down the road; he came running down the road and met him where he was.
So. Normal progression of a service call is that people stand in their garage or doorway and wait for you to approach then let you in whichever door they want. Some people want you to come through the garage, some people the front door. Doesn’t really matter but it’s always the service technician doing the approaching. Not this time. He came down the driveway and met me. Shook my hand and led me to the front door. Introduced me to his wife, asked if I wanted a bottle of water…totally nice. So welcoming.
Meanwhile I’m trying so hard not to cry. The front of his shirt said I AM FAITH PROMISE. There you go. There it is. Your ball. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to unclog photo printer jets with Qtips and isopropyl alcohol while you’re teetering on the edge of being completely overwhelemed by a spiritual moment but, somehow, I managed.
The more I learned about Faith Promise and FP Kids and their whole ministry, generosity, service, and the small groups. How they “baptized technology” and were making it hard to go to hell from East Tennessee by being a multi-site church. I had to get planted there and be part of what they were doing, right away. So I did and I was baptized a few weekends ago.
People ask me, why there? There are 100 churches between your house and their campuses…why are you traveling that far for church? I can think of only one time I had a prayer answered so loud and clear, so perfectly.
We named him Jasper…and I’ve come to realize he isn’t my weak spot at all.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. Revelation 21:18
Grace, You’ve shown me grace
You’ve lifted my shame
Drawn me with loving kindness
Washed whiter than snow
You have redeemed and made me whole
Jesus, You have won me You have broken every
Chain with love and mercy You have triumphed over
Death and You are worthy of glory and praise
Love, You’ve shown me love
By leaving Your throne
By bleeding and dying on a cross
That wonderful cross
That took all my guilt and sin away
Shout it out and lift up one voice in worship
Sing it out until all the earth can hear it
Jesus is alive and He saves, He rescues and saves
You Have Won Me – Bethel Music