In the early days of processing and researching I didn’t share with anyone what I was doing. Looking back over my journal of that time I was very careful what I wrote there. I remember fearing that someone would pick up my journal, read my thoughts and not understand what I was doing. At that point I assumed I was just being kind to the memory of my wife’s mother, yet something else was already at work.
Even now I as write about this journey I recognize that my words will be received through various filters. Some will be put off, convinced I’ve been deceived. Some will read with interest because they have perhaps sensed a similar drawing. Others will wonder why this was such a difficult thing because they haven’t struggled with approaching their Christian faith from a different perspective. I understand that. In some ways it is difficult for me to go back even two and one-half years ago and put myself in the place that I was.
Part of me did not want to enter this investigation; part of me felt drawn to it. But how was I to go about it?
About this time I read that one of my seminary professors had passed away. It was from him that I took my first class on Christian Worship and an introduction to worship and liturgy. His class was like opening a gift that I didn’t know existed as I learned about liturgy, the liturgical calendar and seasons of the Church such as Advent and Lent.
I also had a book by Henri J. M. Nouwen called In the Name of Jesus in my library and I was reading it, not because he was Catholic, but because of the subtitle: “Reflections on Christian Leadership.” More than a year into a church plant I was desperate to be a better leader and I had picked it up. A quote from the prologue grabbed my attention.
I…came to see that I should not worry about tomorrow, next week, next year, or the next century. The more willing I was to look honestly at what I was thinking and saying and doing now, the more easily I would come into touch with the movement of God’s Spirit in me, leading me to the future. God is a God of the present and reveals to those who are willing to listen carefully to the moment in which they live the steps they are to take toward the future. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus says. “Tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).
Okay Lord! I trust you to lead my on this journey. You will not despise my sincere heart.
In 2012 I came across a book by then Presbyterian sociologist Christian Smith called The Bible Made Impossible (2011). Several in our local congregation read the book and found it very helpful in making sense of some of the issues that tend to divide and separate Evangelicals as they seek to follow Scripture. In late 2013 I heard through the grapevine that the author was now Catholic. As I googled it to make sure I found another book that he wrote after that: How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps.
Step by step the author laid out the misconceptions that I had regarding the Catholic Church. I was beginning to see and hear things from a different perspective. On December 7, 2013 I wrote in my journal:
Charlotte asked me if I was recording my evolving thought process regarding faith expression. I said I was, but realize that I haven’t written anything specific related to my own thoughts (what I referred to above). I want to be careful and thorough and keep my heart and mind open to what the Holy Spirit is doing in me through the Word and through the other resources available to me. Suffice it to say for now, these are significant times in my life and I feel or sense that I’m being drawn “home.”
I find my heart continually drawn in one direction as I continue to read and meditate. It is as if I were being led or drawn home to a place of deep roots with deep and rich significance. The implications are massive and must be weighed accordingly. I am in continual conversation with Charlotte and she is supportive. I certainly want to pursue this with great care and due diligence and with utmost prayer and devotion. Any decision this important merits my full and dedicated attention.