My parents had me baptized as a child and I attended Sunday school. I sang all the songs and listened to all the stories. We went to church and said grace at home. I entered my faith with the innocence of a child. And along with Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I believed in God.
When I was 10, my Opa died from a long battle with cancer. And I guess you could say that along with my Opa, went my innocence, and my faith. I loved my Opa so much that it hurt to watch him suffer the way he did, and I missed him so much that losing him didn't seem fair. I began to doubt what I had easily accepted before. I had many questions, but I kept them to myself.
That changed during confirmation classes. We were encouraged to ask questions about our faith and I did. I sure had a lot of them. I finally had an outlet, but the answers didn't come clearly or easily. When my doubts were at their highest and I could have turned away, God was there to guide me back, often in the disguise of someone who cared.
At that time, the Church started a mentoring program which I was invited to join. Kirstin was my mentor. My mom has always told me that I became a different person when I started doing things with Kirstin. It was the little things like just talking that I appreciated the most.
The new me became an active member of our Youth Group. This kept me involved at church in a physical way and allowed God to keep his hand on me while I slowly regained my faith. During a camping trip to Jasper, our group hiked to the top of a mountain overlooking Miette Hot Springs. The view was incredible and I was in awe of God's creation. I have felt God's presence in my life many times since. One of the greatest faith influences in my life was my Oma. She prayed for me and, like God, she loved me unconditionally, especially when I made it tough. She died recently after a long, difficult battle with cancer. As she grew weaker her faith grew stronger. Her unshakeable faith gives me something to strive for.
The love and acceptance I feel every time I enter my church building continues to strengthen me. This year, the church started Thursday morning worship services. The small and intimate service helps me to feel closer to God and the music stays with me all week. I have taught Sunday school for 3 years now, and enjoy sharing God's word with others, just as others did for me.
One of the greatest things I have done with the church was attend the Synod and National Youth Gatherings. There are no words to describe the amazing feeling of being in a building with thousands of others who are thinking the exact same thing as you!
Last fall I was emotionally rocked when a lady I had known for years died suddenly in a car accident. All the grief I had neatly packed away from losing my grandparents surfaced. When she died my heart went out to Howard and the three kids. But God had a plan. I met Howard by chance one Saturday in September. He was about to begin looking for a nanny for the kids. Since October I have been their nanny. Each day God gives me patience and guidance and helps me heal as well.
I cannot know where my journey will take me. I can only hope that it is not even close to being over. I know the road won't always be easy but with God as my tour guide I will be safe and there will be many more exciting places to visit. I thank all the people who have touched my heart and encouraged me, especially my family. It is my prayer that with God's continuing guidance and the memory of those who have influenced me thus far, that my faith will grow and strengthen.
You have looked deep into my heart, Lord and you know all about me. You know when I am resting, or when I am working, and from Heaven you discover my thoughts. You notice everything I do and everywhere I go. Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say, and with your powerful arm you protect me from every side. I can't understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me. Where could I go to escape from your spirit or from your sight? If I were to climb up to the highest heavens, you would be there. If I were to dig down to the world of the dead, you would also be there. Suppose I had wings like the dawning day and flew across the ocean. Even then your powerful arm would guide and protect me. Or suppose I said, "I'll hide in the dark until night comes to cover me over." But you see in the dark because daylight and dark are all the same to you. You are the one who put me together inside my mother's body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Nothing about me is hidden from you. I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below, but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do. Your thoughts are far beyond my understanding, much more than I could ever imagine. I try to count your thoughts, but they outnumber the grains of sand on the beach. And when I awake, I will find you nearby.
Psalm 139: 1-18:
-- Lisa Omerzu
Hosanna, Edmonton, Alberta