Mom was brought up in the church. She was raised by 2 sets of grandparents who were very religious. (One of her grandma’s peeled potatoes on Saturday for Sunday’s dinner) Dad went to the Methodist church sporadically when he was young. Kinda surprised for the first 10 years of their marriage my folks didn’t attend church-period. They joined Calvin Christian Reformed church when I was very young. My 2 sibs and I were baptized in that church in 1953 when I was 2-1/2, Larry was 7 and Mona was 10.
We were one of the few families from the congregation who didn’t attend Christian school in Rock Valley. I never asked mom why we went to public school. It might have been out of their budget to pay tuition for us. By the time I’d been in elementary school for a couple years, I had my own set of friends and would have balked at changing schools. Actually I did balk and begged my parents to switch churches when I was about 10. They did. I think the move was good for all of us. Dad was in the consistory several times, taught Sunday school and spoke at different prisons with a church group. He was very involved.
Both congregations offered similar studies for their children/youth, Sunday school, catechism classes, choir and when I was in junior high and high school, First Reformed had a huge youth group that met on Sunday nights. I wasn’t missing much, I got plenty of religion with summer camps, vacation Bible school and the rest of the Bible classes. It was during this period (I was 10) when all this churchy stuff filled my head and I was tempted to believe some things written in the Bible might have been exaggerated or embellished.
Really some of it is pretty far fetched. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt, Moses parts the Red Sea, Jesus walks on water, 5 loaves and 2 fish feed a crowd of five thousand, Jonah lives inside a whale and is released whole and unharmed, Moses’ rod turned into a snake, manna falls from heaven to feed the masses, Jesus’ conception and Sarah gets pregnant at age 90, (not the miracle I’m looking for God).
But since it was in the Bible I believed it as gospel truth. If Jesus performed all these miracles was it too much to ask for a miracle of my own when I was a kid? I thought not. If He expected me to accept the Bible as written, to love with Him all my heart, accept Him as my Savior, I felt it was ok to request tangible evidence of Him being all-knowing and holy.
I realized He was busy with chaos in the world/sickness/wars/unbelievers and had a lot on His plate. I didn’t need my ‘proof’ to be a big burden. I didn’t even ask for a miracle. Not that my brother Larry be brought back to life, no riches beyond my wildest dreams, just simple proof and God was real and listened to me when I prayed at night before I went to sleep. Proving to this 10 year old that He really existed and heard my prayers.
Because it obviously wasn’t enough that God sent His son to save this sinner or that Jesus died on the cross. Believing He was the real deal was not enough for this decade old skeptic. He performed miracles before, I was just asking for one teensy miracle for proof positive that He existed for ME.
For several weeks during my 10th year I prayed fervently every night, asking God for one minuscule sign. “Please, please move my sock on the dresser. I’ll make it easy by placing it close to the edge, just ready to fall off. All you have to do is give it a tiny shove. Won’t take you more than a second. When I wake up in the morning and see my sock on the floor I will be faithful and never doubt you again. I promise.”
I thought God would be moved by my innocent sincerity. Impressed that someone so young was bargaining with Him and offering to become a better Christian. If I just got that one little favor. After awhile though, I realized God didn’t have to prove anything to me. He had already sacrificed His son. He didn’t need to give me proof. It really was the other way around. I needed to prove to God I was worthy of his sacrifice.
God be merciful to me, a sinner…