Transformed: A Spiritual Journey
Excerpt from “Chapter Seventeen: Questioning Authority”
During the altar call at the end of the sermon, a couple responded by going up front, where people laid hands on them and prayed. I took that opportunity to retreat inside myself, say a few silent prayers to God, grab hold of all the faith I could muster, and bring it to the surface. After the huddle around the penitent couple, the band started up again, along with the din of the audience. I raised my hands with everyone else. I swayed back and forth. I beckoned the Spirit with all of my being to take hold of me.
Why was God disappointing me so much? No, that is the wrong thing to think! What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I have enough faith? I was sure that not a single fiber of my body was being left out of that moment. Where was the Spirit? How much more faith did I need?
My concentration broke when I felt Mick’s hands on my shoulders. Here we go again, I thought. I felt some more hands, which rattled me even more. This doesn’t seem like God to me. I’d always understood God to be one who receives all who offer themselves to him. Why did I have to keep trying and trying before the Spirit moved inside me? It didn’t make sense. Why did I have to be a faithful giant before even being convinced I was saved?
I’ve had enough, I thought. I twisted free of the hands all over me and ducked out of the huddle. I had to get some air and think without all that racket around me.
A few seconds later, I was in the parking lot, the humid summer air clinging to my skin. Katie and Andrea soon caught up. They must had to have seen the whole thing.
“What’s going on?” Andrea asked.
“I’m disappointed, confused, and frustrated. How do I show more faith to God? If I’m lacking it, how do I get more?” I asked, not really to Andrea, as she certainly would not have been prepared to answer the questions. It was simply a chance to voice my mind aloud.
“You’ve just got to keep trying, Lance,” Katie said in an encouraging voice. “I haven’t gotten the Spirit yet, but I’m going to keep trying.”
“I have a question for you, Katie,” I said, turning to look at her seriously. “Why do you want to get the Spirit like they have it?” I pointed to the building, which was filled with people that my dad would have called “Holy Rollers.”
“Because I want to be convinced of my salvation. You know that!”
“Of course,” I said. “And it all makes sense, right? We have to prove ourselves to God so he can prove himself to us? Here’s another question, Katie.”
“Go on,” she said, seeming a bit less defensive.
“How do you know that that’s how you know?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I mean this,” I began, “I know that these people are sincere, and they are our friends. That’s why we trust them. But how do you know what they’re saying is the truth? They told us we need to get baptized in order to get the Holy Spirit. Then we need to speak in tongues before we know that God kept his promise to save us. How do you know? Have they ever shown us that in the Bible?” There was silence for a moment.
“I see your point,” Katie said quietly. “No, they haven’t, but why shouldn’t we trust them?”
Andrea leaned against a car, silently observing our interaction. She was like that, wise beyond her years. She knew when to speak and when to stay silent.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t trust them. Again, they’re our friends. The other day, my friend Devin and I started talking about a Bible subject. He did something for me that no one had ever done before. He allowed the Bible to answer the questions. Instead of telling me what to believe, he turned pages and had me read it for myself. I tried to remember when any of our friends have done that for us.”
“So, you’re saying we shouldn’t believe Bob, Mick, and Kemp?”
“That’s not what I’m saying!” I said with a raised voice. I paused. That was harsh, I thought. “I just want to read it for myself, and I was hoping you would too,” I said more calmly.
I saw a couple of figures approaching from behind Katie. Mick and Kemp.
“What’s up, guys?” Mick asked.
I sighed. These guys already thought I didn’t have enough faith. How would it look to them if I started asking questions and asking for proof? There was nothing I could do at that point. It was unavoidable.
I sat down intending to spend just a few minutes reading a chapter or two. Before I realized it, I had read the entire book! Lance writes in a very clear, simple, and personal style. In a very straightforward manner, Lance tells the story of his journey of faith, as he seeks to find spiritual truth and salvation in a world filled with religious confusion.