Articles

Spiritual Journey

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2014 by mstevensrev

Just last week I was asked to write a personal spiritual journey, since it was already written I thought I would share it.  Please enjoy:

The earliest memories I have is from three years old, therefore I assume that the day our dog ran into the basement in fear from the thundering gun shot in our front yard must have taken place at three or younger because I only remember the scene through the stories ImageI have been told.  My dad left laying face down just feet from the two steps that were the promenade into what was the sidewalk leading to our house, thankfully he was not lying in a puddle of blood.  The two young me ran down the street never to be scene again and as a child I always asked where my dad’s wallet ended up, I was told probably in a gutter somewhere. So in my minds eye I saw it in the storm drain that was at the end of each street in Baltimore, and on days I didn’t have much to do I would search them with the expectation that I would find my dad’s wallet.  It was then my family began working on a plan to get out of Baltimore.  When it was announced to me at ten years old that we would be moving to Howard County, I objected and said, “I’m a city boy and can’t live I the country.”  To my ignorance Howard County was not the country, though my grandparents had a farm there, it was what I would later learn is known as a suburb.  It was after moving out of the city and into a developing suburb that my walks and talks with God began.  As a child it has been told me that I regularly said, “Where I come from…” and the statement was often followed with a transcendental explanation of some mystical element of something that there is no way I could have experienced or learned at that age.  Church for me was home, though my family was not regular in attendance the liturgy was something that entered my mind like rekindling a memory and I would stand on the back porch with my best friend and neighbor signing to him what we had sung to God that particular Sunday morning.  In spite of that, the walks and talks with God only began in Howard County.  The housing development we moved into was incomplete and the sprawl had just begun to take over the fields that at the time of my father’s youth were bountiful and a place where he would find employment at one of the neighboring farms to my grandparents.  Within a mile as the crow flies was one broken down barn that as a teen ager my dad work earning a quarter a day doing labor for the farm.  Not far from that barn was a beautiful dead tree, it was there where my talks with God were most connected, as if the old tree served as a radio antennae that made both broadcast and reception clear and powerful.  This did not happen day one when I moved to Howard County, as a matter of fact it took roughly six months, as I did not leave the house for the first six months except to go to school.

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By seventh grade the horrible awakening that the city was different from the suburb had passed and I began to adopt and adjust.  The walks continued but I also began to chase a girl which eventually again led me into the doors of a church and into a youth group.  It was a fun and safe place for me, with cute girls, and I existed there for well over a year with little change taking place in me that I understood.  Then similar to CS Lewis explaining his “coming to faith” I walked into a service knowing I was not a Christian and walked out knowing that I was one.  This was much to the surprise of the leadership in my youth group, they had just assumed I was “on the team” and in retrospect I am grateful they didn’t know because any attempt to convince me would have sent me the opposite way.

Not long after that experience I came to an understanding that God had called me to serve him.  When I told my dad this he responded, “No, you are going to become an engineer.” After remaining silent the follow up conversation between dad and me was about how he also at fourteen years old felt called so he joined minor seminary to become a catholic priest, it was only in his Senior year of high school that he discovered booze and women, the booze he could have gotten away with as a priest but the women was not kosher…so he left. I assured him I was not running off to seminary and at the time I was unsure what that even meant, but I am certain that God called me.

Roughly ten years later I completed a Masters and Divinity and was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America.  For almost four years I would serve as a minister at a church in Oakland California.  I worked alongside a more senior pastor as an apprentice being groomed to go and start up churches for the denomination.  At the end of that time my family had been suffering under undue financial pressures I decided to leave my position that I had out grown anyway.  The leaving of that faith community had been the most difficult spiritual experience in my life and God met me eye ball to eye ball in a way I had never known.  So me and my family made it like a bat out of hell back to Seattle, where my career would take me unstrategically and seamlessly from full time vocational ministry into the marketplace before I could even understand it.

 While I ministered at the church in Oakland I had two family members that were extremely encouraging of my work.  My catholic grandfather who went to daily mass each month would send me prayer cards with encouragements on the work I was doing. Also my grandmother Isabelle on my mom’s side would call me on the phone and we would have conversations about my work “Converting the Heathen” as she would call it.  These two wildly different expression of faith are in my blood, each bring out a wild devotion in me to the other.

During the time back in Seattle, two shocking scandals with church rocked my family and my faith, one from afar with the community in Oakland and the second with the community where I served as an elder here in Seattle.  It was after this and much more that we arrived at St. Paul’s and Melissa said to us in passing while on the stairs, “You are some of the refugees feel free to come here and rest.”  We did and for the next year as anonymously as my family is able we merely attended St. Paul’s on Sunday, then before long we knew we were part of this family.

To summarize my spiritual journey I would say that thankfully it has been one that has evolved, who God has made me to be and my understanding of God has been stretched and changed in ways my imagination could never have gotten to, and I am excited about what else I don’t know.  Also my spiritual journey has been a rapid and intense one, moderation is not part of my personality or the DNA of my family therefore the experiences we have gone through have been deep, amazing, hard, and crushing.  Throughout it all the brokenness of my life has only led to depth and I pray it will continue to.    

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