I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, which means the choir wore robes with reversible collars, and I annually wore new Easter shoes. It also means I went to “big church” with my parents, and had a tight grip on the terms sin, repentance, and eternity well before I completed kindergarten.
It was around that age–over a Sunday lunch at Maw Maw’s–I was showing off my church bulletin artwork to my family. One drawing that lives in Smith Family infamy is that of a big Jesus with two little girls, all joined together by their pigtails.
My favorite part of “big church” was the end, mainly because it was over, and partially because that’s when the whole congregation linked hands and sang a closing hymn together. One of my favorites was “Family of God,” but until I unveiled my drawing that day, I didn’t realize I’d belted out this hymn incorrectly my whole existence. As it turns out, that hymn wasn’t the only part of my religion I’d misunderstood, regardless of my proper Christian raising.
There is no set age for baptism in the Baptist denomination, because quite frankly we are keen enough to figure out when we need Jesus. For me, that was the tender age of 11, and after the pastor announced for everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads the Spirit moved in me. I knew people were rebelling against the closed-eye rule, but I gathered up my courage and made my way down the aisle anyway.
During a home visit that week, my pastor realized I was more interested in hell-dodging than Christ-following. I think it had something to do with his closing inquiry, “Now, Macie, do you have any questions?” To which I responded, “Yes, if we are finished, can mama paint my fingernails now?”
Fast forward a whopping two years. I definitely saw a fork in the road, and wanted whole-heartedly to choose God’s way over the world’s. Understanding the 3 key terms–SIN, REPENTANCE, and ETERNITY–I earnestly wanted to quit sinning, repent for good, and spend eternity in Heaven. I was baptized in November of 1992 in a frigid baptismal, due to a broken heater. If I wasn’t a native Baptist, I’d say it was a sign.
For many years thereafter I stumbled through life, much like that child that thought she knew the lyrics. I went through seasons of rebellion and renewal, but mostly rebellion; confusion and confidence, but mostly confusion; faithfulness and faithlessness, but mostly faithlessness. I watched other teenagers and young adults love God with all their heart, and had just about decided I wasn’t cut out for it, that it was for folks who were good at being good.
That was a long time ago. And although I still battle this rebellious heart–and suspect I always will in this mortal body–I now know what made “being” a Christian so unreachable for me. I’m convinced my schizophrenic spirituality stemmed from a most basic problem–the lack of understanding. And without understanding, there was no lasting pleasure for me in pursuing the things of God. Proverbs 2:1-5, 9-10 tells it like this,
My child, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Yes, I had attended church, sang in the children’s choir, been baptized and had even gone on youth retreats and mission trips. But my journey was never about seeking understanding, quite frankly I just wanted Jesus to fix me. But the Proverbs-promise says if you seek understanding you’ll find knowledge and then–and only then–will you find pleasure in your soul. Once I found pleasure in Christ, well let’s just say wild horses couldn’t drag me away, fixed or not.
Doctrinal questions I’ve sought–and continue to seek–answers to are the foundation for many posts in my blog. Some of you may read and think, “Well I thought everyone knew that.” But the more Christians I meet and know, the more I hear people singing the wrong lyrics. There are lots of great Christians wondering why they aren’t “fixed”, when it’s not even about that at all. Christians are weary and worn from dragging Jesus around by their pigtails.
There’s always talk about Christians not “living-out” their faith, but I believe there’s not so much a problem of Christians living-out their faith. I believe there’s a problem of Christians–like me–understanding their faith. In other words, I think our faith is suffering not from a problem of want- to, but a problem of know-how.
Sometimes I’ll tackle serious faith topics via my blog, and when I do, I pray you’ll see my heart and know it’s in humility I share. I’m not trying to “enlighten” you, if you are a Christian, or convert you if you’re not. I’m simply writing down the ways God’s drawn me to Himself, and pretty-much blown my mind. There truly is pleasure at His right hand, when you sit and beg for wisdom and understanding to come into your heart.
This post is dedicated to my childhood pastor, Brother Mike Carr, who patiently pastored me–knowing all along I had spiritual schizophrenia. Who stood by me as I continued to run from understanding. And who can now wipe his forehead and sigh in relief that I’m finally starting to get it. Thank you.
17 responses to “Join Hairs With Jesus”
Me too! Dunked and married off!
Macie, reading this just made my day! Bro. Mike is the sweetest pastor ever. He holds such a special place in my life and my family. Much love to you–I enjoy following you and your sweet family.
They still hold hands and sing “Family of God” at the end…I was there last week!
Great post. So just who are you referring to who are not “keen enough to figure out when we need Jesus.” Is that a Methodist slam? 😝
No. It’s a Baptist slam. 🙂
I love this, having butchered/confused many hymn lyrics in my day. The true lyrics are (I googled it): “Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, the family of God.”
It has roots in Romans 8:17.
What a wonderful way to start my week! You are definately not alone in your searching…you are just one that will admit to it. You know how much we love you and your family. Love the sweet memories of WBC and joining hands was a favorite of mine also..wish we would do that at TBC! Love you and thank you for sharing.
“Spiritual Schizophrenia” I love you Macie and this is my new favorite phrase! I understand it oh so well!!
I still love mr.brother mike as Gib called him. We still hold hands too. Looking forward to God ‘s lead … Love you!!!
O MY GOODNESS….Spiritual schizophrenia! I have FINALLY been diagnosed! 😀 This is my favorite post yet!!! Goodness Gracious Macie Claire, I LOVE YOU TO BITS!!!!!! ❤
My favorite hymn….trust and obey
Must say you were a face that came to mind, Mrs. Donna.
I thought it was join hands with Jesus! And no telling what I thought sod was. But I got nostalgic chills remembering holding hands and singing that hymn while mom played the organ. I even can smell the church! We weren’t there for many years but Bro Mike definitely made a mark on our lives. He spoke so eloquently at my dads funeral and remembered such special details of our time there.. ok I got sidetracked but your posts are amazing and genuine and they actually follow the recent sermons at zion hill! Joint heirs and suffering were both recent topics. You’re amazing girlfriend. ❤
Do you know if ZH has online sermon recording?…
I so enjoyed reading your blog! You are an inspiration and have a gift of writing and encouraging others! Thank you for pointing us to Christ -the only One who can truly understand us and make us whole! Our faith is definitely not just a religion but a relationship with the God of the universe who loves us dearly! Thank u for reminding us that He wants us to have understanding and true pleasure in Him!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I don’t write as often as other “bloggers”, but I try to write what I feel God’s teaching me. I’m glad it resonated with you=)