Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Stepping Stones - conversion" - from L.L. Barkat

In chapter one ("Stepping Stones - conversion") of L.L. Barkat's new book, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, L.L. wonderfully shares in a humorous and moving way, the outset of the beginning of her faith journey.

Her step-mother, Beezie who was a lapsed Catholic and her atheistic father are hit by "a charismatic Christian with a capital C" by the name of Opal Bonesteel, a prayer warrior. Parts of this chapter are quite funny and described in such a way that you can't help but picture it in your mind and imagine the scene. In fact both in prose and poetry, L.L. has a gifted touch to take you there, or at least give you a sense of what she is talking about in her experience. And in a way you can relate to, or identify with.

We see conversion happen through Opal's witness, first with Beezie, and then with L.L.'s father, after his open verbal assault on the Bible, with continued tirades as he sought to disprove it in his reading. Just the opposite took place as he too began his journey of faith.

And soon Beezie led L.L. and her sister to pray the sinner's prayer. Thus began L.L.'s conversion which in its process was to go through most troubled waters which begin in the next chapter. Waters she would rather forget.

This is the beginning of a wonderful telling of her story and of what relates to that story and really what relates to all our stories in this world and in the Story of God.

I too can look back and see important points along the way which were a part of the process by which I was brought by God to conversion. Like the time that galvanized my felt need for a Savior in my mind, when around the age of ten at church I went down to the men's restroom, I can still smell that room, and prayed loudly to God over my conviction of sin and of being a sinner so that I was heard all the way upstairs as I recall. I had plenty of pain, inward pain in my teenage years. And plenty of rebellion to match it.

But through my dear mother and her faithful witness, the continued ministry of Billy Graham, and my wonderful children's Sunday school teacher, Blanche B., along with other faithful people of God at our church, I came to faith late, when I was 17. Even then, after crossing over from death to life and thus converted to Christ, I still was in a process of undergoing conversion, which I must truthfully confess goes on right to this very day!

I love the way L.L. tells her story. It's a wonderful read. It keeps you going. But like the best things in life, you're best to take it slow.

What about any of you readers of her book, or anyone else out there? What do you think about conversion? And what might you share from your own story?

Next week: chapter 2: "Christmas Coal - shame"

23 comments:

HALFMOM said...

I agree completely Ted. I could SEE Opal arrive at the door and feel the "whooshe" of the Holy Spirit as He moved into the house!

I'm enjoying the book quite a lot!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Ted - sorry - for some reason I am logged into the old account - I'll try to get this straightened out soon so that they are merged!

Mark Goodyear said...

Conversion is such a tricky thing. Although I had a specific moment of baptism, I don't remember any particular route to God. It was just a gentle continual nudging.

Speaking of nudging, I take this post as a nudge that I need to post about Stone Crossings too! Thanks for taking the lead on this Ted.

Rachel Mc said...

My conversion was brought to my attention on two major events: Dec 18, 1991 my twin daughters were still born and March 5, 2005 I found out my 22 year marriage was ending....I grew up catholic so conversion was never discussed because "once baptized always saved" especially if you obeyed all catholic rules and obligations.
"..with all the urgency and hope we feel when we think about beginnings and where they have since taken us.." The peculiar thing is that with both situations I just jumped, head first and head long into God's arms and comfort and people around me thought I was crazy and couldn't understand my fiercly defending God when I heard all the usual "God has a special reason.." "God never gives you more than you can handle.." because I knew God was with me, not cuasing my situations.....very peculiar situation to be in. I am really enjoying this book!

preacherman said...

I agree with Mark.
Great post brother.
I am looking forward to the next one.
Kinney Mabry

Ted M. Gossard said...

Halfmom Susan,
Yes, great way to describe it!

Yeah, I have an old account also I'd like to to merge with my newer one. Don't know how, but I haven't tried.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mark,
Yes. Conversion certainly works out in different ways. I was raised in the evangelistic tradition of getting saved on a particular day, and so much being made out of that- normally in response to an altar call.

But I've changed alot in my thinking on it over the years so that I don't think one has to remember a particular day or time. What's essential is that we have faith in the Lord now, and are growing in our walk and in the grace and knowledge of him. That it's real to us now.

So I'm pretty open as to how it happens, only that it is through the gospel which is the power of God for salvation to all who believe, the good news of Jesus.

Ted M. Gossard said...

And Mark, I look forward very much to you blogging on L.L.'s book!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Thanks for sharing that, and so sorry to hear of your troubles, yet so good to hear of God's grace to you and your faith during those times. And that you're growing since.

Yes, we need to hold on to the truth always- in Jesus, especially so in the trials of life, during which some fall away. The word needs to get planted in us to change us, which is a large part of what conversion and ongoing conversion is all about, as James in God's word tells us.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Thanks, brother.

bryan riley said...

I'd love to read this. It's always the best to see God's work in a person's life - to see God's story in them! Sounds great!

spaghettipie said...

Fun that you started this little conversation on LL's lovely book. I only recall my conversion because my mother told me about it. I sat in my bedroom by myself at age 4 and asked Jesus into my heart. I came out and told my mom what I had done. She asked me a few questions and determined that I understood. It's been quite a journey ever since!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Bryan,

It's a great read, and you won't in the least be disappointed when you do.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Spaghettipie,
Thanks for your comment. That's precious! Praise the Lord.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Where did this silly rating system come from?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Not to disparage anyone who used it, especially giving a five star, fitting for L.L.'s post. Actually I've hit stars before myself, so who am I to talk? But this just appeared out of the blue.

NaNcY said...

that is actually kind of funny for stars to be appearing out of the blue!

as for the book i just zoomed through it when i first got it. and now i am going through it again along with your posts. i am picking up a lot more of ll's wonderful way with words...like "catholic-gone-bad" and the "cuss-word encyclopedia".

as for my conversion...i thought it might have been from just an acceptance as a child, or maybe in college when i became a Jesus freak and got baptized and did not really know what was going on except being in love with Jesus though after college falling away and thinking i was doing ok even with all my bad choices for many years, or maybe it was truly when i came back again in my huge need of true belief in Jesus because i knew i was in need of God in my life while i was in the black pit of anxiety and depression. the conversion is probably very evident to God as to when it was, but, for my human mind and heart it has been and still is a gradual awarness of what it means to belong to God.

it took me a while to see the difference between accepting Jesus into my life, and the need to be accepted by Jesus and need to belong to God.

NaNcY said...

oh no...my blog just got stars!!!!

NaNcY said...

http://knownissues.blogspot.com/2008/05/star-ratings-appearing-for-some-users.html

info on the stars...

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks Nancy. I'm thankful to see they removed the stars/ratings system; I don't want it, myself, though others may have excellent reasons to want it.

Thanks for your interesting and good thoughts on your conversion. It is quite evident to me. I like to see conversion as a continuing process beyond the initial breakthrough as well as before that. And like you say, God knows all the details. I know my own too, which I didn't even share here.

NaNcY said...

the thing is...i really do not know exactly when it happened. i grew up going to church and learning and going through paces of sunday school and singing...but no one ever said...look, you need to have a conversion moment!

even in college it really did not get through to my brain that my belief was a conversion moment...it was just like more of a floating along into love.

even being baptized in the lake durring college. it seemed more like a group event.

so not until i went into the deep dark pit did i really call out for a need of God and realizing a true need to actually BELIEVE in Jesus as the son of God.

so when was my conversion?
probably when i came to the need to believe knowing how lost and alone i am. all those years before that...who knows, besides God the moment. because if it happened before that then i really am not sure.

it seems every since the pit experience that i am aware of a continual need to fight for my belief. that there is a continual battering upon it. and i run to God to protect me. and in Him is the only Joy.

NaNcY said...

i even had to fight for the belief in the first place in that place of darkness. it was a real battle.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Wonderful, wonderful words! Thanks for sharing that. So interesting. Scot McKnight wrote a book on conversions, and your story here would have been a good one for it!