Pam's Faith Journey

My faith journey took a strong right turn in 1977. 

My husband Dick was pastoring three rural churches at the time. Over the last few months Dick had begun to feel inadequate and dissatisfied with his pastorate. We had talked of leaving the ministry and Dick returning to work for the state. We took a few days off and went to see our parents, planning to break the news to them during our visit. However, things didn't go exactly as we planned.

My mom had recently started attending church with my sister and was forever talking about the Lord and getting "saved". We were more than just a bit uncomfortable with her and privately decided that she had gone overboard and become some sort of fanatic. Although we felt people should try to please God, we were uneasy about getting so personal with Him.

Our visit was both busy and enlightening. The church where my mom attended had just gotten a new pastor. Mom was very excited about him and his family and was anxious for us to meet. Bill and Peggy Williams were about our age and Mom just knew we would really like them.

Dick and I weren't too thrilled by the idea, but reluctantly agreed. After all, if my mother was so intense and fanatical, what would her pastor be like?

After parking in the pastor's driveway, Dick and I looked at one another over the roof of our car. "How long do you think we’ll be here?” I asked.

“Maybe 15 minutes? Just long enough to be polite,” Dick suggested.

I agreed. Fifteen minutes could seem like an eternity if these people were anything like I was expecting.

But they weren't! That evening we spent about two hours with Bill and Peggy. We went back the next day for a barbecue and spent six hours just talking! It was the beginning of a very special friendship, and more importantly, the beginning of our relationship with Christ.

We seemed to have so much in common. We were the same age and our children were only one month apart. This was their first pastorate, too. We both worked as husband and wife teams with the youth groups in our churches. But there the similarities ended. They were so content and satisfied with their ministry, while we were discouraged and unfulfilled.

Their concept of God was also radically different from ours. They talked about Jesus and how He was leading them as though He were right there beside them. I felt like I should be able to look over and see Him sitting on the couch! Their relationship with Jesus was so personal that Peggy even consulted Him aloud when she cooked, closing her eyes and asking, "How much garlic do I add, Lord? Thank you, Jesus."

It was as though they had a running conversation with Him! "Pray at all times," (I Thess. 5:17 TEV) was a description of their lifestyle, not just a quote from the Bible.

During the entire time we were together they never once lectured us or scrutinized our commitment. They did ask us when we had become Christians. We explained that we had grown up in the church and felt that we had always been Christians. Bill and Peggy accepted us just as we were, without doubting or questioning us.

On the three hour trip home we were very quiet. Usually we would have talked for hours. Our visit with our new friends had given me much to think about.

I just couldn't get over the differences in our attitudes about God and the ministry. They loved what they were doing! Dick and I both commented on how very similar and yet how radically different our lives were. When we were within a half hour of home I asked Dick if he had noticed a plaque hanging above Bill and Peggy’s kitchen table.

Nodding his head, he said, “I memorized it! 'Christ is the Head of this house; the unseen Host of every meal; the silent Listener to every conversation.'"

For Bill and Peggy, Jesus was right there, in every decision, every conversation, in every aspect of their ministry and home life, every day. He really WAS sitting on the couch beside them! For me, He was far away, a distant God in heaven whom I tried to appease by my good works.

Dick agreed that the plaque really summed up the difference between us and our new friends. We said very little the rest of the way home, but each of us knew that the other was giving the subject a lot of thought.

The next day a Gospel singing group led worship at our church. The entire service was filled with songs of praise and challenges to commit your life to Jesus. I had heard before how Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, but the thought had merely flickered through my mind and never pierced by soul.

I felt the urge to go to the altar to pray, but our small son was tired and restless. I breathed a prayer asking God to quiet the baby if He wanted me to go up front. Within seconds our son fell asleep and I was able to gently lay him on the floor and walk up to the altar. As I knelt there, I became aware of Dick beside me.

That morning Dick and I joined hands and asked Jesus to come into our home, just like He was with Bill and Peggy. Though we didn't really feel any change at that moment, as soon as we arrived home we knew God had answered.

Have you seen the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”? Remember the scene where the film goes from black and white to color? As we opened the back door and entered the kitchen, we experienced that same kind of transformation. We knew immediately that Jesus was there! He was in our home!

Jesus opened our eyes to what had been important to us before—those material things that occupied our interests and took priority in our lives. But most importantly, He also quickly opened our eyes to our faulty beliefs and philosophies—beliefs and philosophies that blocked and distanced us from the Lord.

Many people would never have noticed that Dick and I were not living for Jesus. After all, our lives centered on the church. Dick was a minister! He memorized his sermons from a pastors' annual, so of course they sounded good.

We believed in God in a general way and knew that a long time ago Jesus had lived and died. But He was more like an historical figure than someone we could know today.

We didn't realize that going to church every Sunday didn't make us Christians. We believed that we had to please God and earn our way to heaven by doing good works, helping others, living by the ten commandments. We had never fully comprehended that we needed to believe Jesus died to forgive OUR sins, not just the sins of the world. (Romans 3:25 TEV).

At last we understood that only by Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross are we put right with God. (Romans 5:8 TEV) What a wonderful sense of relief and thanks we felt when we learned that "it is by God's grace that we are saved . . . not the results of our own efforts." (Ephesians 2: 8-9 TEV).

The very next Sunday Dick preached his first sermon straight from the Bible instead of a book. A lady in one of our churches came up to him after the service and said, I’ve been praying for this day.”

She knew from Dick’s sermon that her prayers for our salvation had been answered. Though we were aware that Jesus had begun His work in our lives, we didn't realize it would be so obvious to others.

Salvation through Jesus changed us and our ministry forever. We are excited and challenged to share the Good News—the greatest news of all—with others! We probably sound a lot like my mom and I'm sure there are those who have thought that we are fanatics. But the real difference is the presence of Jesus right here with us in every decision, every problem, every conversation, every day. It's a promise He has made to each and every one of us. "I will be with you always." Matthew 28:20

On a plaque above our kitchen table and written on our hearts, are the same words we saw at the home of our friends: "Christ is the Head of this house; the unseen Host of every meal; the silent Listener to every conversation."

It is our prayer that when others are with us they will see Jesus and will be irresistibly enticed to know Him personally, too.

Be encouraged!