No one can know another’s heart. We try, but as humans we simply do not have the ability to know another’s heart fully. For that reason, we are often hurt and disappointed by family and friends. This is especially true of children.
Children come into this world as clean slates. The Holy Spirit may have written the knowledge of God into their hearts, but their minds are blank paper upon which the world writes the story that becomes their life. The first people to write on those pages are the parents, or in today’s world, the parental figure or figures. It is from these sources that children learn about good, evil, trust and betrayal. It is from these sources children learn about love, hate and indifference.
One of the most important learning tool for children is their eyes. It is through their eyes they see if words match deeds. It is through their eyes they see how one person treats another. It is through their eyes they have the opportunity to experience the majesty and intricacies of the world God created.
It was as a child that I came to know Christ. My mother believed in God and the bible. She made certain my brother and I had access to the stories of the bible, even though we seldom went to church.
My father was a tortured soul who longed for meaning and significance. He was a seeker in the truest since of the word. He was always seeking love, understanding and respect. Of course, he sought them from the world, a place where they are hard to find.
It would be safe to say my brother and I were raised in a state of confusion. Our mother prayed, read bible stories to us and believed in God. Our father took the Lord’s name in vain and could find no satisfaction in anything for more than a moment.
Our lives were in constant turmoil. We moved from one rent house to another, almost every year. The things we had changed constantly as well. Dad would show up with a new toy, gadget or infatuation of the moment every few months. In most cases, the last toy, gadget or infatuation had been sold or traded for the new one. Stability was not in Dad’s vocabulary.
Through God’s grace, stability of a sort did come to our family for one brief period. We lived in the same area, in the same house during my fifth and sixth grade years. It was during that short period, which seemed like an eternity to my brother and me, that Dad sought God. He found a small country church and dived into religion with as much energy as he dived into his other endeavors.
Suddenly, we were at church every Wednesday night and Sunday morning. Dad taught Sunday School, we were in Royal Ambassadors and the preacher was a regular guest in our home. Now the bible stories we were reading were being taught from a pulpit and in Sunday school. It was not just Mom and the boys talking about Jesus. It was a whole church talking about God and Christ.
It was in that small church that Christ became more than someone in story books. It was in that small church He became real to me, and I came to love Him. I was only eleven, but to this day I can remember what if felt like to commit my life and heart to Him.
I remember stepping down into the cold water of the baptistry. I remember being asked if I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I remember how warm it made me feel to say yes, and I remember how the warmth stayed with me when I climbed from the water.
I thought the warmth and love I felt would be with me forever. I was now walking with the Lord, how could anything go wrong? I did not understand the challenges that can face those who believe. Within a few months, my eyes let me see what my heart did not understand.
I did not understand the sin nature of man. Yes, I knew the story of Adam and Eve. I knew they sinned against God and were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. I knew we were all sinners, but I did not know what that meant.
I did not know that Dad and Brother Max were sinners as well. It was my dad and my preacher. The two men who led me to Christ. How could they be sinners? I did not understand they were only human, and humans sin.
The nature of their sin and conflict is not important. In the overall scheme of things, their transgressions were petty. However, it led to conflict within the church and within our family. Suddenly, the little white church was no longer the safe, friendly place it had been. The two men I most closely associated with God were now enemies. In a short time, Sundays became just another day of the week, and Sunday school a thing of the past.
I still knew Christ in my heart. I still prayed to His Father and read the bible stories. I still knew I was saved, but my eyes told me that I could no longer trust those who called themselves men of God. This was the beginning of a long and torturous spiritual walk that challenged my faith and my heart many times.