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Issue 19

Faith Journey, Part Three

And here we are on our 19th issue, and all of you are following the continuing saga of my faith journey. So, without further adieu (je veux donner tout a Dieu, mais. . .), on we trek.

All along, I've know about Jesus. At church camp I learned about what it was to truly be a Christian, and I learned a bit about evil, too. And as I entered Junior High, I became fairly inspired to do as well as I could, be as good for God as I could. We know this. And in grade eight, I got confirmed. Confirmation is a major point in my growth as a Christian. It wasn't the actual confirmation itself. I mean, saying that have Archbishop pray over me was the most important thing in confirmation is denying the other VERY important stuff, and kind of like saying that grad is the most important part of high school (though some would argue that it is). Through my confirmation classes I learned a lot about what it means to be a Christian. I learned about the Ten Commandments and what they mean, and we went through the creeds, and learned about them. There was Church history, and there I learned about the Articles of Religion. I learned other things, and grew greatly in my faith during that period, and was really on fire for Jesus.

Another very important event that happened during my preparation for Confirmation was being baptised in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit anointed me that night, and I was full of Him and His power. It was such an awesome event. It was one of those times I felt really in tune with God, and after that, I wanted to be full of the Spirit as much as I could and do His bidding forever.

If grade 8 was a turning-point for my faith, grade 9 was a turning point for me in other areas. I continued to grow in Jesus and all that. I entered High School, that wild and interesting place we all endure. On Mondays at noon we had a little devotional group that read some Scripture, did a little devotion and prayed. I went as soon as I knew it existed, when it was, and where it was. I now had fellowship with other Christians outside of church, something which would become important to me later. There were maybe six of us at a time, but it was good. And on August 30th leading up to grade 9, I met Katherine.

For those of you who have no idea who she is, she is a girl I "went out with" for over a year, then got back together with in the summer for a few months. I don't know what to say about my relationship with her. At times, she would help bring me closer to God, but at other times, when I think of it now, I spent a lot of time on her that I should have been spending on God. I thought about her a lot, as she lived in a different city. A beneficial thing about us was the fact that I had to write most of my correspondence to her. When I write stuff, I often sort stuff out in my mind while I'm at it. And in writing to her, I figured out some stuff about me and my faith and the Anglican community. So, as to how she contributed to my faith, it's kind of ambiguous, and I'm kind of ambivalent (no! Mrs. Parker words! I'm melting . . . melting . . .)

At the end of grade 9 I learned I was moving. I wasn't surprised. I kind of knew it was going to happen that whole school year. I was just kind of disturbed. On the Sunday it was announced in church, Tim Ferrey said to me, "Sucks to be you." At the time, those were my sentiments as well. Over that summer, I grew closer to my friends in town, and began to realise what I'd lose when I left--them. And that was about it. I was still going to exist, and I was still going to have Jesus. Of course, I did cry my eyes out on last campfire at church camp because it hit me that that was the last time I'd be singing "Faithful One" to Burbine's guitar, and the last time I'd be worshipping with most of those people, and maybe even the last time I'd ever be at Pioneer Lodge. And I cried my eyes out because I realised that He was there and He'd be faithful to me, and I just wanted to throw myself on His rock and His steadfast power and assurance.

I moved to Thunder Bay. I learned right away that Jesus is always there for you. I made a friend who decided to make me public enemy no. 1 within two weeks of meeting her. Most of other friendly people I met were infected by her poison and the poison of some of the guys who didn't like me, and were mean and nasty. I felt very alone. And it was in Thunder Bay within those first few months that it became very important to me to have fellowship outside of church groups. I didn't click with very many of the others at church and stuff. But at school, I learned of this group called ISCF. I went, and never left. I made new friends--new CHRISTIAN friends. And I learned about Christ and the Bible and had lots of fun there. By Hallowe'en, I had friends. Of course, when told to bring a friend who didn't come to ISCF to the food drive, I couldn't because all of my friends were ISCFers. I think that I went to FWCI for good reason (and not because of the claims of Ms. Dulacka). FWCI has the largest ISCF group in the city, and it was fairly easy for me to join in, become involved and make friends. God has done lots of work through ISCF in me.

And as grade 10 rolled along, I did the Alpha Course, and learned sooo much and had a really great time. God really blessed me through Alpha, and I grew spiritually in knowledge and love of God. I grew in both intellectual knowledge and relational knowledge.

In May of 1999 I went to TEC 29. TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) was totally amazing. It was my first time back in Alberta since I'd moved, for one thing, and I felt Jesus there. I was filled with God and the Spirit. I learned a lot about the Faith and had an excellent time worshipping God. I had great discussions and just a totally amazing time. Jesus is so great! The theme verse for the weekend was 1 John 4:12, "No one has seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

At the end of that school year, I was voted to be on Leadership Committee for ISCF in the upcoming schoolyear. As a result of that, I went to ISCF Leaders' Camp at Manitoba Pioneer Camp. God did great work for me that weekend. Actually, that was amazing. On Thursday I got a letter from Katherine in which she broke up with me. I had a day to be dumb, but God sent me off to Leaders' Camp so I couldn't be dumb all the time. He comforted me, gave me closure and helped me move on. Since that letter came on Thursday, and not Friday, my weekend was not ruined, and since it came so close to such a spiritually-focused time, God was able to draw me near to Him. I learned a lot that weekend and grew in Christ and met a lot of amazing people, most of whom were from Manitoba.

Grade 11/12 is a blur of schoolwork, girls, friends, and God. I grew, as always. God used me to bring a couple of friends to Him, which was very exciting for me. I dated Andrea for three months, from February to May. I thought I was spiritually strong enough and focused enough to handle it, but I wasn't. By the end, my focus was lost, I was sick of her friends, I was miserable, and apathetic. The week before she broke up with me was fairly horrid. I'd spend too much time with her friends, few of whom are Christians. ALL of the good times I'd had that week were with my Christian friends. On Saturday, she broke up with me. God came through, and I went to Twilight Culture, and ISCF city-wide event, and I rocked on for Him and had an awesome time. Afterwards I went out with my ISCF friends and realised what I'd been missing--fellowship with other Christians!

May 23rd, 2000, I started over. And what is starting over? I explained everything in an e-mail to a friend of mine:
I got the idea from a book I'm reading. It's called "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintanence" (forgot sp. for that last word). It's about these two guys going on a road trip, and is true. It's mainly about the spiritual journey they're having together. They truly are starting over, and are using the opportunity to relight the fire of their faith. Well, you or I can't do that, but that's okay. We're bound to the world, not being legally ourselves, but chattels of our parents (kind of). And we're bound by high school no matter what. But as far as spiritual rebirth goes, we can do it.

For me, it kind of is a new beginning anyway, though. I mean, I'd been going out with Andrea for three months. With her gone (not that I won't miss her, but I have to prioritise now), I have more room in my heart and schedule for God. And over the rotten week I had that culminated with her breaking up with me, I began to realise that I was changing anyway. I needed more time with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and realised that I really wanted their fellowship so much more than ever before. And I need it a lot. So, now I've changed whom I primarily hang out with, but still stay with my non-Christian friends, only I have new priorities. And I'm reading that awesome book, and it's giving me a lot to think about, and I want to redesign my whole spiritual life.

I'd say that I've been a Christian forever, but became on fire when I was 13 or 14, when I got confirmed. I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and knew God better and stuff. And I've really known Him all along, I guess. And I moved to Thunder Bay, and was torn violently from my comfort zone, but God kept me sane and kept me happy. I had true joy and still do. And it makes me pleased. So, my faith has been growing ever since my entry into Ontario and my exodus from Alberta. And I've literally heard God speak and I've known what He wants. And in February, I made sure that I had great faith before going out with Andrea. So, I think I'm somewhat spiritually mature, but I'm no Solomon--not even a Peter or a Thomas, really.

But I've struggled a lot. Of course I have. And as school takes over my life, I often lose sight of God. And that happens relatively more frequently now than it used to. But I'm a fairly lucky person with a stable faith, I just need more. I poured out my heart about this in an eleven-page journal entry a few nights ago, knowing full well that my faith has been a blessing from God and is strong. I just want it to be strongER. And I want it to be more than religion, belief, and faith. I want a true relationship with God, and a right spirit. I want restoration, because there was a time when I was not so full of worry or doubt and had that. But I want more, I want to be beyond what I was, what I am. I want a relationship. My friend Katherine literally hears God's Voice, and speaks with Him. I want something like that. I dunno. I just really want to change my life. One aspect I need to change is my lack of really witnessing about my faith. I want to be able to do that. So I'm starting over.

So I started over. And I, like Scott Butler, decided to start chasing God more, and not girls. Now I'm going. I promise that next time, part 4, will be the end.


Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin