A Solitary Christian Life is Not Ideal.
Note: I intended this to be a fairly short series on deconstruction, based on my own experience. But I’ve found that it’s difficult to explain the process I went through later in life without fully understanding what happened earlier. So, this is probably going to take a bit longer than I’d planned. I hope not to write a memoir-length tome, but I’ve decided just to continue this journey of discovery and let it take me where it will. Thanks for coming along for the ride. — Jim
I was a lone-ranger Christian.
Hokey opening line, I know. But it was true.
The thing is, I didn’t know that’s what I was. After all, I’d trusted Jesus as my savior. I was an altar boy. I went to church every Sunday. I read my Bible. I’d found a treasure trove of teaching material (at least on prophecy and cults) at a Christian bookstore. I watched Billy Graham every time he came on.
But something was missing.
I didn’t understand it at the time, but even though I was technically in a church, I wasn’t engaging with other Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the people in the church weren’t Christians. I just wasn’t engaging with them on that level.
I’ve always been a loner, an independent sort of person, and that’s how I was trying to live as a Christian. By myself. A lone ranger. I never even talked with Father Clarke about my conversion experience. Truth was, I didn’t talk about my newfound faith with anyone other than my family (and that’s only because I’d told them I felt that God was calling me into ministry).
As a result, even though I knew cults and prophecy inside and out, I didn’t “grow” in my faith. (I’m trying to avoid Christianese words here, but I can’t think of a better one than growth.)
In fact I was so stunted that I was like the stereotypical kid at a Christian camp who responds to the invitation to “come forward and receive Christ” every single time it’s given.
Problem was, they didn’t give invitations in the Episcopal church so, aside from praying to receive Christ every time I watched Billy Graham, I didn’t know what else to do. So I prayed to receive Christ at home in my room.
I kept spinning my wheels for a couple of years until I got my first job. Being a bookish kind of person anyway, I got my dream job at sixteen: working at the public library.
I was in heaven. So many books and so little time.
But although humanly speaking I took the job because I loved being around books, I believe God’s hand was in it, too.
I can’t remember how the discussion came about, but one of the ladies who worked at the library found out that I was a Christian and she invited me to a home Bible study.
I’d never heard of such a thing. (People studying the Bible at home? Really?) I was like, “Where can I sign up?”
She told me when and where the Bible study was and then asked casually, “You don’t have a problem with speaking in tongues, do you?”
I’d never heard of it, but her explanation sounded cool. So, I shrugged and said “No.”
The next week, I went to my first-ever charismatic home Bible study.
And everything changed.
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