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"