Getting to Know Fr. Steven – part 2

My dear friends,

 I want to continue focusing my thoughts on us getting to know each other. So I will begin where I left off in last weeks bulletin, sharing with you more of the journey of my life; a song I sing to God’s wonderful Mercy.

 “Looking for love / happiness in all the wrong places,” this best describes my teenage years. And we see this with so many people today, both young and old, searching desperately for happiness, but not finding it where they thought they would. The world promises so much, it glitters and makes a lot of noise, but in the end its promises are empty; its version of happiness disappointing. I wanted to be happy like everyone else, to know love and acceptance, to find a fulfilling purpose for my life, and more than anything, I wanted to be a man.  But what are these things we desire? Where are they to be found? Not having someone to guide me, I, like many of my peers, looked to the world for the answers. And the fallen world always has the same answer: just more wealth, more power, more pleasure. “If you have more, you’ll be content; if you become cool and macho, you’ll be a man. There’s nothing beyond the passing pleasures of this life, pursue them and you’ll be happy.” And so I and many of my friends put all our energy into striving for this ‘ideal,’ not realizing where it would lead us, not seeing the sign hidden along this path that reads “dead end.” Following this path made me more selfish, I became ambitious and started tearing other people down to build myself up. By compromising my deeper values of right and wrong, I often hurt myself and all the people I wanted so much to love.

 During this time our family was attending a Lutheran Church in town every Sunday. Though I did not find the homilies very inspiring, I still heard the Bible stories Sunday after Sunday. But as quickly as I heard these teachings about the Christian life, I just as quickly pushed them out of my mind and tried to forget them. The guilt I felt when I compared my life with the Gospel was more than I could deal with, and the deeper truth was that I did not want to give up my wayward lifestyle. I was a slave to sin, unable to break free. I had only a ‘legalistic’ understanding of faith then, a list of do’s and don’ts. It was not yet a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I did not know the One, True and Living God.

 What I find very moving and beautiful, is that even though I was drifting further and further from the Lord, God was drawing closer and closer to me; in ways that I did not recognize until years later. This is the good news of the Gospel: God does not abandon or forsake sinners, but seeks out the lost in order to save them.

 The light that God was trying to shine into my heart was easy to leave behind at Church. But what was I to do when that same light became present every day in our home through my little brother, and a short time later through my sister? At the end of my sophomore year in high school my brother was moved to give his whole life over to God and follow Jesus Christ. He was not one of those ‘preachy’ types, but his changes were quick, obvious and powerful: especially when he stopped teasing me. I’ll never forget the nights I woke up and found him praying. We shared a room together, and often, when he thought I was asleep, he would get out of his bed in the dark, kneel down and pray. I would watch in silence.  I didn’t know it then, but my little brother was praying for me, praying for our whole family. God heard those prayers of the night, and in the next bulletin I will share with you the fruit of those prayers.

 God love you,

 

 

 

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