Church was a time of renewal; every Sunday I was sitting in the pew soaking up God’s word and singing His praise, loudly, very loudly. I enjoy singing; it makes me feel closer to Him than any other religious act, except praying. Most of the songs were powerful expressions of God’s strength: A Mighty Fortress is Our God, All Hail the Power, and How Great Thou Art. My favorite songs are: Love Divine, All Love Excelling, Holy, Holy, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and Amazing Grace.
Bible reading with the family, my grandparents, a couple of aunts and uncles, brought every day to a close. This was an hour of learning more about God’s word. It was also a reading lesson for the younger kids. Inexperienced readers, as well as the experienced readers, took turns reading the devotional booklet’s daily scripture and illustrative story. As an incentive to improve our reading skills, my grandmother presented each child with their own Bible as soon as he was able to read a verse. I was proud to get a ‟Grandma Bible” by reading John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Unfortunately, the Bible readings stopped when I was 10 years old because my mother, brother, and I moved to a town on the other side of the state. My mother, a single parent, worked hard and was tired in the evenings. Getting food on the table and kids settled in for the night left little time for anything else. Initially, I continued doing my own private Bible reading, but eventually, the activities of a growing child took higher priority.
I still prayed. By now my prayers had transformed from formal recitation into informal discussions with Jesus throughout the day. I was often alone and talking to God made me feel less lonely. Although my mother didn’t go, I went to church and Sunday School every weekend. I felt grown-up going without my mom and enjoyed seeing my friends.
As I got older, my church attendance started to wane, sleeping in on Sunday morning was more attractive than an eight-thirty worship service. Then when I hard about the arrest of our pastor for embezzlement of church funds, I completely stopped going. I still believed that ministers were ‟one step below God.” They didn’t sin or break the law. It wasn’t until moving in with my grandparents in my late twenties that I began going back to church.
In the beginning it was to appease my grandmother. As time went on, that feeling of ‟being home” returned and I became an official member and got more involved, even teaching Sunday School for a couple of years.
Today, my relationship with God is strong. I enjoy spending time in His word and expressing praise and gratitude in daily sessions of worship. This intimacy with Him each morning fills me with a sense of peace that carries me through the day’s challenges and victories.
Having a close, intimate relationship with my Lord is a blessing. I pray that you will also open up your heart to experience this wonderful gift.