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How Has Your Faith Changed You?

How has your faith changed you? That’s a pretty deep question, but it’s a question that I hope you’ll seriously consider, at least for a moment. I could list a number of ways in which my faith has changed me. I first accepted the Lord into my life on Easter Sunday 1976. I was nine years old. I nervously “walked the aisle” and at the end of the aisle stood my grandfather. His name was Graham Lester and he was the pastor of Fine Creek Baptist Church in Powhatan. Back then I knew only a little of what it meant to be a Christian. I wish I could tell you from that point forward the Lord was at the center of my life. In reality, and to my shame, the Lord played only a minor role in my life, unless of course I got into trouble or I found myself in a fix and needed help getting out of a jam. It was during these times of trouble that I’d remember a little thing called prayer and my prayer was usually, “Lord help me!” I confess there wasn’t a whole lot of Christ-like growth for many years, too many years. But over time growth began to happen and it happened precisely because of one of those “Lord help me!” prayers. There was one particular point in my life where I hit bottom and it’s fair to say I was broken. I won’t go into the details of my brokenness because the story is too long for a newsletter article. With nowhere to turn I uttered one of those “Lord help me!” prayers. Only this time there was something different in my asking. For the first time I truly wanted to know what God wanted for my life. God answered that prayer in a way that I knew it was Him and that answer to prayer gave me a desire to learn more about the Lord and to grow closer to him. I tell you that story to tell you this story. Not long ago I was chatting with Brenda Peck. For those of you who don’t know Brenda, Brenda Peckshe’s a life-long member of Bethel and is very active in our Food Pantry and is one of our deacons. We were talking about faith and she recounted how she too prayed a lot of “Lord help me!” prayers along the way. Then she said something that I thought was wonderfully insightful. She said, “My prayer life has gone from ‘Lord, help me!’ to ‘Thank you Lord!’ She said she still prays for the Lord to help her, but these days her prayers begin and end with words of thanksgiving. I began to think about her comments and I think they represent a continuum for what a Christ-like growth looks like. When we first come to faith each of us probably utter a lot of “Lord help me!” prayers. I believe God is anxious to answer those prayers for help, but I think His most earnest desire is that we move towards a prayer life that is   saturated with words of gratitude, graciousness and thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul ended up at this place when he says in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Instead of asking “How has your faith changed you?” perhaps a better question is “Where are you on the prayer continuum from ‘Help me Lord!’ to ‘Thank you Lord!?’ May I pray one “Lord help me!” prayer for us? Lord, help! Help us to live our lives in such a way that we are continually moving towards living lives of thankfulness, gratitude and graciousness. Create in us a desire for You and You alone oh Lord. Amen. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving, Todd

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