Have you ever taken a moment to look back at your faith journey? What has changed? Are there lessons from the journey that have shaped your life and personal beliefs? Life evolves overtime, growth happens and just as babies will become adults someday, so also will our faith in God grow bigger and deeper as we journey through life. Here is how my faith has changed over the years.
Evolution of my Faith: A Journey Through the Years
Was God a person, a thing or simply someone invisible in the sky who overlooked the whole world and listened to the many prayers of his children? I have always believed in God even as a child. I knew how to whisper a silent prayer to him whenever I felt scared of the dark. I also knew that he was with me as a young child through those sickly episodes in my life.
Somehow, I knew he was by my side keeping me alive as a young child. I felt it once when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had been very ill, weak and on the bed for days. But one morning, just before dawn, my father carries me out to the balcony, we sit and he holds me by his side saying -you will be fine soon. I felt the coolness of the windy morning air rest on my skin in that moment with a knowing that God was with me right there and he would make me well soon.
I grew up in a Christian home. Yes, God was part of our lives and we got to meet him in Church on Sundays. But I guess that as we the children grew older, my parents saw the need to start going to church and making God a part of our lives. It was my mother who first started taking us to church. But before then, I always tagged along sometimes with my childhood friend to the catholic church down the street. Eventually, we settled for a Baptist Church as a family. My parents still attend the church till this day.
However, what I remember most from that time was Sunday school and not the regular services. How the church was split up into smaller units to study the word. There was also question and answer time. I believe in those moments, the seeds of a desire and longing to know more of God’s word was planted in my heart. Characters in the bible began to intrigue me. I did not grow up having the usual family devotion and bible study times in my family. What we did occasionally was pray together as a family. Somehow those early years of my life opened up my heart to knowing that God exists and wants us to draw near to him. Until I went off to the University.
The Beginning of a Transformative Journey
Young and free with a whole world to conquer. I had God by my side but had not entered into a personal relationship with him. He heard my prayers when I called on him, he understood when I erred, but there was still this part of the puzzle of my life that still felt empty. God was there but was not really there. Until one day in July 2000, I attended Church after a very long time at school and there was something different about how the word of God was taught that day. I was drawn in and gave my life to Christ.
My faith in God expanded. I began to read the bible, pray more and desire to know more of him. I was also in the midst of an amazing fellowship of believers who challenged me to grow even though our lives were far from perfect. We all had our shortcomings.
But in this season, God became more real to me and was someone I could truly talk to knowing that he hears me. I learnt to attend church, listen to sermons and grow my faith through the many messages taught on the altar. I learnt to believe God and his word and to trust in the efficacy of scriptures. I began praying in the spirit in a most unusual encounter alone in my room and a desire to be filled with the spirit. I learnt to give to God and hold back nothing from him.
I learnt to share the good news of the gospel with others and bring others into the kingdom. I learnt how to wait on God and trust in his faithfulness. It was the faith planted during this season that carried me through a difficult season in my academic journey. God stood solidly with me in that battle and I came out victorious.
Over the years, I have come to experience God as a father and friend. The word of God has gone beyond just written letters in a book to words that are alive, powerful and capable of delivering results in my life.
Prayer has moved from being a forced routine to a normal part of everyday life, where I now know that praying is about communicating with God and listening for a word from him. I can speak to God and listen for his voice as he speaks to me.
Giving is no longer something I do because I want something back from God. It has become an act of love and worship, a dedicated commitment and a response to the Holy Spirit when he prompts me to give because he needs me to keep planting seeds in the grounds.
Serving has moved from being a duty to an awareness and wholesome commitment to play my part in God’s story and in the advancement of his kingdom.
And now sharing the good news of the gospel no longer comes with the fear of ‘what do I have to say’ to trusting God to put the words in my heart and mouth at the right time and for the right people.
I no longer feel the guilt that comes of a life once lived apart from God. I now rest in the freedom of who I am now in Christ and the new story he is rewriting in my life.
Some Key Lessons and Insights Gained from the Journey
Today, I sit in my quiet moments and study the word not because I was forced or asked to in church. But, I do it because I want to know more of Jesus and his word. I want to plant seeds of faith in my heart for the stormy and weary days. I want the Holy Spirit to uncover and reveal deep truths and wisdom from his word to me. And I do it simply because I want to share with others wisdom, inspiration, faith and lessons from God’s word and let them know how our lives can be changed forever through his word.
I am 42 years old now and I have grown older and wiser over the years in my faith journey. And here are a few key things I have learnt.
1. The man/woman of God (Pastor, Reverend, Teacher, Coach) is not God. Honor and respect him/her but do not turn him to God in your life.
2. Never neglect other aspects of your life in your bid to serve in the house of God. Your family, marriage, education and job should not suffer because you are busy with God’s work. Let God lead you and give you the wisdom to choose the most important thing for each season of life.
3. Let your giving be spirit-led and not fear inspired. Let giving be an act of love/worship and not you being coerced, manipulated or deceived into submitting to spiritual authority in the name of giving.
4. Finding and joining the right Christian community can help you grow spiritually and build your faith in God. Trust God to lead you to the right one for you. There is a nourishment and transformation you get and experience in communities and small groups.
5. Grow in your personal relationship with God. It is how much of God that you have come to know and experienced that will keep and sustain you in difficult times and not what others have told you about God.
I am that woman and mother is still on her journey of faith – learning, discovering, growing and yielding. And even though my perspective, mindset and worldview has changed in many ways over the years, God remains constant in the journey, holding my hand and revealing himself to me as I walk closely by his side.
And yes, the goal is to become more like Christ every single day through my words and actions, in my home, family and marriage, in my job and beyond the four walls of the church. It is more about me shining the light of Christ in a very dark world.
What has changed in your own faith journey?
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16AMP