When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.” (Matthew 5:1)

Some of the most important teachings come from small intimate meetings. The first time I professed belief and faith, I was a young child. Eight years old maybe? My mother and grandparents sent me to a Christian (read evangelistic type) of bible school camp. Worship services were held in a mini-church sized for children of that age. My memory of it was a “pup-tent” sized building. At the end of the worship service one day I stayed behind and asked how one would accept Christ and confess their sins. While it might have been the unspoken intended purpose, I really think I surprised them with my request. Just me and the bible school teacher made it a very intimate setting especially since (memory tells me) the teacher was all hunched and bent over to fit into the front part of the church. I am not really sure it was the Divine who spoke to my heart, then. Later on, yes; but then I think it was more of wanting to connect with a source of comfort. But you know, the Divine takes what invitations the come.

“Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Verses 2 – 6)

Can an eight year old’s heart hunger and thirst for righteousness? My growing up years were very hard. Imagine the social milieu in the middle 1960’s when & where most family were made up of a mom & dad and several siblings. For me it was just my mom and me because my parents were separated. I was an only child and we were living with my father’s parents while my mother tried to figure out what to do. We can all say very awkward. I “thirsted” and “hungered” for something. A firm foundation maybe, and a sense of being cared for. I am convinced it was God’s grace, and my grandparent’s strong faith life that guided me to a growing faith in the Divine as opposed to seeking for love in all the wrong places. At that age I was – beloved reader – poor in spirit, mourning a loss I could not put into words, and meek. And because of God’s blessing I found what I needed.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Verses 7 – 9)

Something happens to a youngster who is continually nurtured and pointed toward the Lord God. After living with my paternal grandparents who were evangelists in their own right, my mother and I moved to the area where she grew up, and eventually to the town and church she grew up in. I couldn’t have strayed from the Christian path even if I wanted to. My short-lived and mild adolescent rebellions melted under the constant presence of the church in my life. When I entered adolescence my mother remarried a deacon in my home church (yes, that did cause some controversy!) and we moved into a house two streets away from the church. And one year my mother taught the Sunday School class I was in. Then several years later I became a Sunday School class teacher. It seems my eventual path to seminary was a foregone conclusion actually when I think back.

I do not know if God’s hand was on me from little on up. Whether my family background made my faith journey inevitable. I know at some points the Lord God and I were at a distance – me wandering away and not the Divine leaving. But always, I made my way back.

While I took part in worship services, and even started to lead worship services, I have found the Lord God best in intimate settings. My seminary training focused on my becoming a Spiritual Director – the most intimate type of spiritual setting where it is just you, one other person, and the Presence of the Divine.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Verses 10 – 12)

I do not want you to think, beloved reader, that my life has been easy. That being a Christian from little on up has made my life problem and stress free. In fact, the opposite has probably been true. I sometimes . . . well, more often than sometimes . . . . think that my faith has prepared me to endure everything that life has done to me. Why, you might ask, do I think this? Well, re-read what the writer of Matthew has Jesus saying. It is hard work and tough on the psyche. Having taken to heart that the Christian life would be struggle and pain, I was never surprised when it was. In my lowest and roughest times, it is only my faith that has gotten me through. And now, it would not have been easier to give up or be less than completely devoted Christian. Anything other than staying the course was never an option. And hard as it was, and still is, the blessings that come in the Christian life make up by far for the difficulties and tough times.

Maybe by now, beloved reader, you are tired of me talking about myself and my faith journey. Listen then to your own heart, and more importantly the Voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to you the call to faith and the blessings that are waiting to be discovered. Selah!