I tend to put the path to faith into two categories. I refer to them as the “mustard seed faith” and the “lightning bolt faith.” But recently I’ve begun to believe there’s a third one, which I’ll talk about later. I’ll start by talking about the lightning bolt faith.
If you ask some people when they came to faith, they can give you the exact day that it happened and give you a testimony of their experience.
The Apostle Paul had an experience like that. You can read about it in Acts, Chapter 9. He didn’t believe in Jesus. He thought Jesus was a false prophet. The bible says that Saul (that was his name at the time) was breathing out murderous threats against the Lords disciples. Wow. He thought that by persecuting and killing Jesus’ followers, he was doing God’s will. On his way a light flashed around him and knocked him to the ground and a voice said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” I won’t go into the whole story, but that experience set Saul straight and he became a new person and was given the name of Paul.
That’s why I call sudden conversions “lightning bolt” conversions. You know exactly when Christ came into your life. There are many examples in the bible of sudden, same-day conversions: the thief on the cross, many who were healed, the centurion at the cross who felt the earth quake and saw everything else that happened.
These sudden conversions are miraculous and I love hearing about them, but not everyone comes to faith that way. With some people, their faith starts like a little mustard seed that grows and grows into a huge plant. Some mustard seed plants grow so large they’re referred to as trees and birds perch on their branches. Here are some verses about the mustard seed.
Matthew 18: vs. 20-21 He replied “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Mark 4: vs. 30-32 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.
This is how I came to faith. It started out tiny, then it grew and grew and grew…
When I was a kid, our family went to church on an average of once a year. Yes, we were one of those Easter time church goers. My parents grew up being taught about God, but when they got married it was hard to go to church. My Dad was going to college and working. My Mom was busy taking care of their growing family (there ended up being six of us). Dad didn’t go to church and it was hard for mom to get six little kids ready by herself and take us, so it rarely happened.
When I started 7th grade, we moved to Montrose and my parents started going to church regularly and took us kids that were still living at home with them. I didn’t know what it was all about. Sure, I had heard about God on a rare occasion, but I kind of put him in the same category as Santa Claus, Johnny Appleseed and the Tooth Fairy. Some people believed and some didn’t. I had no clue where I stood where God was concerned.
Right away they had me start confirmation classes. At the same time, I was learning about evolution in science class. Now, talk about believing something far-fetched! There was nothing, then out of nothing gasses formed. Out of gasses, solid masses came into being just because. Next, these big masses collided and exploded “stuff” all over the galaxy. There was still no life, and then all of a sudden…. There are living cells! These living cells grew and grew into complex life forms; constantly evolving.
I know that’s not exactly what they teach, but in a nutshell – it is. I started wondering why species weren’t evolving into different things all around us. Cats were still cats. Dogs were still dogs. Why weren’t there creatures that were half dog and half cat? Why weren’t their half human and half gorilla creatures? Things like this should be all around us if everything is constantly evolving.
I’ve heard people make the creation story sound just as wacky, but to me – of the two theories, creation made more sense. If there was some powerful God out there who could do anything; well, then he could do anything – even create a universe!
So, I started believing in God with my head and accepting God and the bible as truth, but I hadn’t dedicated my life to him and I wasn’t believing with my heart. I was going to a new school and trying to make new friends and fit in. That’s what was important to me at the time.
Unknown to me, that little tiny mustard seed of faith was growing. I would have moments when a bible story or a sermon would move me, but then the next day I’d be back to business as usual – going to school and hanging out with my friends, etc.
After I graduated from high school, I got married and soon had a little son to take care of. I knew nothing about taking care of babies. How exciting and frightening! I found myself praying all the time. During pregnancy I was praying my baby would be healthy. I prayed for help in taking care of him when he was born. What if he stopped breathing or something? What would I do?!!
There’s nothing like being a parent that will make you try anything – even believing in something you couldn’t see. It wasn’t just desperation though. I had learned about the bible prophecies of Jesus’ first coming and how they had all come true. I had experienced things that most people would call coincidence, but there was no way those things just happened the way they did. I’ve never had any actual back and forth conversations with God, but I remember praying and praying when my Dad was having his first open-heart surgery. This glorious feeling of peace came over me. It was like God was saying “I’ve got this. Don’t worry.” Of course, the surgery was successful and my dad lived a long time after that. These are just a few reasons why I believe in God.
So, what is this third way I’ve been thinking about lately? I’ve been realizing lately that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life when you come into existence. Your name gets blotted out if you make the decision to reject Christ. The bible gives “the faith of a child” as an example of how we should believe. I’ve seen many, many children believe with their whole heart in God from the moment they’re capable of understanding and believing. Many never lose that faith. It’s with them for their whole life. They don’t have to figure it out later in life or make a decision. As long as they can remember, they’ve believed.
There’s nothing that brings me more joy than hearing a little child telling me how much they love Jesus. Their faith and their love just shines.
It doesn’t matter which path you take to get to his kingdom. Getting there is what counts. See you at the Pearly Gates my friends!
Note: I didn’t have a picture of a mustard plant, but the flowers in that picture are mustard yellow. It’s the best I could do!