I was raised in the Catholic church and attended a Catholic school. We went through all the classes and learned to parrot the correct answers to any given question. Then it was time for the sacraments. Of course we had all been baptized as infants. That was the first sacrament. The second was Holy Confession. The mystery of that small dimly lit confessional box caused awe and fear in this seven year old girl. I admit now that many (most) times that I visited that box and shared my 'sins' with the priest I made them up. The hard part was trying to get just the right mix of sins as to not appear to self righteous and not being so bad I would be called out. But it was in relation to my First Confession that a spark of resurrection life was quickened in me.
It was a typical Sunday afternoon. We were having dinner at Grandma Muller's house. Grandpa was in the living room with the rest of the family as Grandma and I finished cleaning up in the kitchen. She was washing the dishes and I was drying. She was talking about my upcoming confession and asked me if I could say the Act of Contrition. I said I could and she asked me to say it.
"Oh my God I am heartly sorry for having offended thee. And I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because they have offended thee my God who are all worthy and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to confess my sins do penance and to amend my life. Amen"
Grandma was very impressed and then asked something that no one had ever asked before. "Do you know what that means?". Sadly with all the instruction I had received I had no idea. So Grandma took that prayer and line by line explained what true confession meant. In that conversation was born in me the desire to please God with more than my words.
Fast forward. I am about ten. I am in the backseat of Aunt Bam's car. My mother's youngest sister often took me under her wing and included me in family activities while my mom worked. She was the scary aunt because she was strict but she was also the loving and fun aunt. (Actually....I think perhaps I am just like her in many ways :) . I think my cousins Karen and Steven were in the car too. We were passing the Water Mill windmill headed east on Sunrise Highway. Like the death of JFK and the first man in orbit, the death of John Lennon and the attack on 9/11 this moment is forever etched in my memory.
I am not sure how it came up but Aunt Bam said that Jesus would one day return to earth. This was mind blowing to me! I remember the excitement I felt in hearing this new thing! I hung on every word as she explained the rapture and the 1000 year reign of Christ. This was truly the day that Jesus came alive to me.
Years would pass before I fully embraced Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But both Grandma Muller and Aunt Bam were the first people who put flesh on Jesus for me in a way that I could carry Him with with for the rest of my life.
While I do not practice Catholicism I do embrace some of the early teaching at my grandmother's side. I want to daily confess to my Jesus that I am sorry for having offended Him. I now hold to the teaching that I do not have to dread hell for myself because Jesus has once for all paid the penalty for my sin. I do not go to a priest but to Jesus the High Priest.
And more now than ever I look forward to the return of Jesus. That longing that was born in me through the words of my aunt has only intensified. I see how the world is changing. I read in The Word of God to expect these things. I expect the state of the world to continue to grow worse. I am not a 'dooms day' person. I am a 'second coming' day person. I know now that when people try to remove the Christian faith from all public venues that this is part of it. Jesus told us this would happen. Our faith will grow because of this. We are not being persecuted (yet) in the United States for our faith. We are being shaken awake by those who do not yet know the real live Jesus. Our faith is being tested.Faith that cant be tested is faith that cant be trusted. (-Greg Laurie) We must live for Him now and be prepared to die for Him later should it come to that. But unless we have those 'resurrection' moments in our live Jesus will only be words in a book and lessons we need to memorize.
I am writing this to encourage you if you are a "Grandma Muller" or an "Aunt Bam". Live your life in a way that other around you will be able to look back and pin point the moment that Jesus came alive to them. Take captive every opportunity to stir into flame the moments you are given.
If you need a 'resurrection' moment in your life..I challenge you to allow a simple childlike faith to be born in your heart that you may truly, honestly, meekly say "God show me." He will. He will send you a "Grandma Muller" or perhaps a "Aunt Bam". He is faithful. He will do it. Don't try to grasp it with your mind. Embrace Him with your heart.