Monday, February 1, 2016

Be Prepared To Give An Answer


"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect."         1st Peter 3:15

I came head-on with this verse when I was asked to speak at a Lenten retreat.  The topic was What My Faith Means To Me.  As I worked on my talk,  the word that kept coming to my mind was grace.    "Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will bring me home".......words that we hear so often when we sing the beloved song, Amazing Grace.

I grew up in a loving Catholic family.  Though not wealthy, we certainly did not go without.  We had food to eat, and a warm, safe home.  I learned about love by my parent's example, and was taught respect, humility, and responsibility.   I always had a deep respect and reverence for "church."  

As a young adult, my faith took a back burner to the busy-ness of career building and the other distractions of life. I stopped attending church, and gave little thought to my prayer life.  I still believed in God, but felt no real connection to my faith.   

It was when I married and moved hours away from the security of my family and home that God's grace touched my life and brought me back to him.  My husband and I began going to church, and over time became involved in our faith community.  We faced the pain of infertility and the struggles of adoption.  I lost both parents and only brother within a few short years of each other.  In his grace, Jesus was there through it all, comforting, supporting, giving me hope.  My faith became very important to me.  God was, and still is, my hope and salvation.

When I was a child, my faith was simple.  Things were black and white, concrete.  God was God, sin was sin.   As a mature Christian, my faith sometimes seems murky.  I struggle to reconcile issues with church politics and question some doctrine.  My opinions and my faith do not always coexist peacefully inside me.  Yet, in spite of my questioning, I still yearn to be close to God.  I still cling to the hope he has planted in my heart.  Simply put, I choose to believe.

My childhood faith, with its simple acceptance, has been planted firmly within me.  When my adult faith feels complicated by my frustrations, I go to the Father in prayer.  His grace reassures me, and in my heart and soul I know that God loves me, in spite of myself.

So, I make a choice.  Every day, regardless of my questions, I choose to keep my faith.    I choose to accept the joy and peace that my faith brings.  

At the end of the day, it is quite simple, really.  God's greatest commandment is to love him, and love our neighbor.  All the rest falls into place when I just rest in his love for me.  In his amazing grace, he sent his son to bear my sins, my doubts and frustrations.  He loves me that much.    By the grace that Jesus came to give me, I am assured that his Holy Spirit is with me always.

I love him because he first loved me. That's the bottom line.  Period. 

There is a lot to think about in this short verse from 1 Peter.   Have you ever wondered what you would say if someone asked you why you are a believer? 



In today's Zentangle I used Lazy Eights (Denielle Noe), Meringue (Kelley Kelly), Poke Leaf (Maria Thomas, W2 (Rick Rogers & Marie Thomas), and Squid (Rick Rogers & Marie Thomas).


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