by Justin Tennison

“What are you asking me to do?”  I asked.  

Pastor Christian replied, “I would like you to write-up your testimony for the church blog.”  

“Sounds great. Do a lot of people read the blog?”

“Yea, we get a good amount of traffic.”

“Sounds like we need some promotion. Will you promote the post?” 

“Will it be good? People only read things that are good.”

 “Maybe I shouldn’t be asking so many questions…”

My journey of faith has been somewhat of an anticipated surprise. Or should have been anticipated if anticipated and surprise were not mutually exclusive words to describe the same feeling. I am amazed to see how God can weave an expression of Himself that seems unique to my life and personality, but at the same time, similar to other stories about the Lord’s redeeming work in others. Perhaps my kindergarten teacher was right. I am just like a wonderful individual snowflake and no two are the same. The part my teacher forgot to mention is that when you take your eyes away from the microscope, it all just looks like snow…and it will eventually melt if you keep analyzing it under a microscope. So my story is unique in a technical sense, but for those who don’t want to analyze this particular snowflake, please just skip to the last paragraph where it just looks like snow.

A relationship with God has always been very intriguing to me. Growing up in a mainline Lutheran church, I can remember really wanting to be taught theology in Sunday school. I was pretty much the nightmare Sunday school student. A common outburst from me would have the usual three parts: a genuine question, mixed with sarcasm, and topped off with an attempt at humor.

“Who cares about singing songs about smiling, flesh-eating animals calmly entering an ark? I want to know how God can be three persons and one being at the same time!”

Over time, I got better about not saying everything I was thinking; even though, to this day, the same three-part outburst still flashes to the front of my brain. Unfortunately for me, often times you only get good answers when you ask good questions. I needed to start asking good questions.

College was a great time for me to start asking good questions. In college, most church going, Sunday school graduates get their faith challenged by a college course of secularism. Fortunately for me, I was too interested in this Jesus character to be easily swayed by the notion that the newest ideas are also the most true. By this time, I had a strong desire to grow in a deeper relationship with God, but was missing some of the teaching that would be so helpful. Enter one of the most important authors to have influenced my life: C.S. Lewis. Like so many others, I felt his published works were tailor-made for me. Each new concept would both educate my mind and enrich my soul. I found completely new ways to experience God in thought and wonder that increased my depth of love. I remember reading Lewis and being astonished that this type of writing even existed. I made the connection that C.S. Lewis saw this same fulfillment in the Scriptures. This spurred me on to read my Bible completely anew and often. As I read, I expected a rich depth that could simultaneously awaken the soul and fulfill the mind. Once I grasped that the Father of all depth of insight commissioned a book to be written, I started reading it with deserved expectation. When I approached the Bible this way, it didn’t take long for Jesus to completely take control of my life, renew my mind, and transform my heart. Oh, the joys of your first free-fall into the love of Jesus.

JustinandfamilyI am 15 years past this above paragraph now. I married the love of my life whom I started to date during those transformative college years. We are doing our best to raise our four children in the love Jesus has so richly and freely given us. I would say my particular resolve within the faith in these adult years is a focus on evangelism. I have such a strong desire for my friends and family—and really anyone I meet—to hear about the love Jesus has for them, and I want them to respond to that message.  I have tried everything from inviting co-workers out for free pizza and a Gospel message, to street corner evangelism, to endless one-on-one meetings. I have found the Lord ALWAYS wants prayer saturated in any “so-called” work we are doing. Let us never forget: He is the potter, we are the clay, and whatever work He calls us into is a blessing to be a part of.

And now for the snow paragraph…you remember, the paragraph that will look like the rest of the snowflakes. We want you at Church of the Cross. You belong here. You are accepted here. We want to display the love of Jesus to you and we want you to display the love of Jesus. We will work through whatever beliefs we share in common and ones we disagree on. Most of them don’t matter much, but some of them do. Let’s talk about them all. The bottom line is that you belong and you are welcome to sit next to me anytime. I typically go to the 10:45 service, sit back right, and am usually 10 minutes late.