Your universe gets pretty small when you are the center of it. When my spiritual fate depends on my decision, my faith, my mission, my witness, my interpretation, etc., it should only be expected that one would get a little big-headed. My “religion” was simply Christianity with all of the bits that offend almighty me drilled out. The trouble is that the whole thing loses containment once almighty me gets done poking holes in the bucket and no amount of good intentions or crying, “Dear Liza!” will fix the mess I made. So what’s a little master of the universe to do with a holey bucket? Fill it up again, of course!
So — I tried more than twenty churches’ worth of that. I became the very thing that I despised — the church shopper. But there were only two churches left on the local shopping list left un-shopped. One had a nonsensical name for every service and study group on the schedule; the second was Bethany Lutheran (Port Orchard, Washington)…and I had my misgivings about Lutherans.
I could say that going to Bethany broke the bucket, but that might be taking the analogy too far. They didn’t waste any time. There was the Invocation, then — BAM! Sin smashed what was left of my universe to bits. It took time to get used to the pastor forgiving me of my sins, but it was an odd sort of relief to be a sinner.
It was Law and Gospel that made my bucket whole again. Downplaying sin had drained grace of its power. I heard grace like I had never heard it before. It wasn’t the “make-a-decision-then-get to-work!” message that I had heard at every other church. It was real Jesus-for-you grace.
Becoming Lutheran was one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me, but it was also painful:
- The fear of being deceived again.
- The fear for family and friends still stuck in that holey-bucket rat-race, family that now think that I’m the one who’s lost in a quasi-Catholic cult.
- The frustration at the huge amount of time and energy that I wasted carrying around a holey bucket.
My world is much smaller now, barely a drop in the bucket. But I know who carries that bucket, and He drills no holes. He just fills it up with Jesus.
Member Mrs. Charly Burleson
Bethany Lutheran Church
Port Orchard, WA