A Clay Jar

Encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thess. 2:12 NIV)

My Journey of Faith

I turned 70 years old this past week. And later this summer, I will celebrate 52 years as a follower of Jesus. As I look back on the past years, I can only thank God for all he has done in my life. And for the way he has seen fit to use me. I wish I could say that my journey of faith has always been smooth and upward. But God has always been faithful, even when I surely have disappointed him with my stubborn willfulness.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Beginning the Journey

My journey of faith really began pretty early in life. I do not remember a time when my family was not a part of a local church. And at nine years old, I joined the small Baptist church we were attending and was baptized. I think it was mostly because it seemed like the thing I was supposed to do. And, since my parents were at church whenever the doors were open, so was I.

It was not until I was 18 that I came to know the Lord. And, when I did, he upended the plans I had for my life. I was preparing for a life of sensual indulgence when he swooped in and changed my heart and the course of my life. The following six years were spent in the U.S. Navy. Initially, that was conceived of as a time to break free of the constraints of the Christian lifestyle I had been faking for some time. Instead, it turned into a time to get to know the one I had heard so much about over the years but had never met.

Within a few weeks of surrendering to the Lord, I was in boot camp. And the ten weeks I spent there have served as an anchor whenever I might question the reality of my conversion. Away from home, and in an environment that was very worldly. Just where I had wanted to be. But I was no longer interested in the life I had planned. Through no effort on my own part, and contrary to the environment I was in, my desires had changed.

Progressing along the Journey

If you were to chart my progress in the faith since then, you would find a line that, while it has its ups and downs, gradually moved in an upward direction.

The six years spent in the Navy were a time of great growth. Especially the two and a half years I spent in Sicily. That may be the closest I ever came to being in something like what is described in the second chapter of Acts. I interacted closely with a group of young believers, fellowshipping, growing, and serving together. It was a great and formative experience. And I am very thankful for it.

In the years since then, I have gotten married and raised two children who, in turn, have children. I started a job that turned into a career and ended in retirement. And I have served in a number of churches, mostly small, and all in mostly unchurched parts of the U.S. I have had a variety of roles with the local church. But my primary calling has been as an adult Bible teacher.

Throughout the intervening years, there have been both highs and lows. But God has seen me through it all. And I am grateful for all of the experiences and the people who have shaped me over the years. Sometimes that shaping was not pleasant, but God has used it all.

The Journey Today

Many times through my journey, especially early on, I thought that I had surely reached maturity. Only to realize that I was still not there. I have finally come to understand that I still have a tremendous way to go before being able to claim I have arrived. In fact, if I was to live another 70 years, I would probably see myself as being even farther from completion. The more I have learned and experienced the Lord, the more I am coming to see that there is much more that I have not yet even glimpsed.

Knowing Myself

My life has changed over the years. I am no longer the 18-year-old new believer, the 30-year-old newly married, or even the 55-year-old retiree. Each stage of life has brought new challenges and opportunities. And I could point to a number of transitional events that moved me further along in the faith. But what I see as one of the most significant occurred, unfortunately, rather late in life.

I am an introvert. Not just someone with some introverted tendencies. But a full-blown poster child for introversion. I had to take the Briggs-Meyer personality test for a class in college. The scale runs from a 30-point extrovert to a 30-point introvert. And I aced it. So what’s the big deal?

Much of church life, at least that I was exposed to, was tailored for extroverts, for people who are outgoing, comfortable in big group settings, and enjoy socializing. I am not any of that. And it was not until about the time I hit 60 that I realized I was not broken. I was just the way God made me.

I am not any better or worse than the most extreme extrovert. God has made us different. And he had a purpose in that. We have complementary strengths that we bring to the body of Christ. Now, rather than wishing I could be what someone else is, I am comfortable with how God has made me. And I seek to use the strengths God has given me in serving him and his church, rather than trying to be something I am not.

Being a Disciple

Growing up in the church, it seemed like making a profession of faith, being at church on Sunday morning, and living a decent life were all that were required. It is certainly all I did. And it is what I saw many others doing as well.

But once I came to faith in Christ, that no longer seemed enough. No longer was I satisfied with that type of casual and impersonal relationship with God. I wanted to know him. Not just to know of him. But to truly know him.

The road to discipleship comes quickly for some believers. But it has been a slow process for me. Little by little coming to know my Lord better. And, as I do, learning to follow him more closely. There is still a long way to go. But I continue to follow, inch by inch.

There was a time when I was very concerned with orthodoxy or having the right beliefs. I still believe that having the right beliefs is important. But more important than having a perfect understanding of theology, is following Jesus. What is in my heart is more important than what is in my head.

Orthopraxy, doing the right things, is something else that has become less important to me. That does not mean that I have become undisciplined in my lifestyle. But it does mean that I am not as judgmental of others who do not live the way I do. While what I do is important, what is in my heart is even more important.

An Evolving Theology

When I first came to faith, I already knew a lot of theology. It is hard not to pick up a lot when you grow up in a Baptist church. So, as a new believer, I had a theology that was quite in line with the Baptist Faith and Message.

I have nothing against statements of faith, creedal statements, or confessions. I even have one of my own. But I quickly came to understand the importance of basing my theology on the Bible rather than the doctrinal statement of a church. That doctrinal statement may be perfectly in line with what the Bible says. But it is too simple. And I want to be able to do more than just repeat what is contained in a doctrinal summary. I want to know for myself what the Bible teaches.

The Bible is much more complex and nuanced than any doctrinal statement is capable of summarizing. It takes time and effort to allow the Bible to shape one’s theology rather than the other way around. And, as the years have gone by, I have found that my theology has evolved from the simple faith I had at 18 to a much more mature faith. I have no doubt that it will continue to evolve and grow in the years to come as I seek to go ever deeper into it.

And, as a side-effect of that, I have become less critical of those whose theology is not the same as mine. So long as the core of our faith remains common, there is room for some diversity. At least so long as we show grace to those who differ from us.

Serving the Lord

Over the past few years, I have turned into somewhat of a writer. I do not write books. Unless you think of this blog as a book. My writing is most daily devotional-type posts based on the Scripture, posted on Facebook and here on this blog. Along with periodic longer theological articles that are published on other websites before eventually making it back here.

I find writing to be hard work most of the time. But I do feel God’s leading in it. And it does seem to have an impact on a few people around the world. When this started, I never dreamed of what it would become. It was just a hobby, somewhat sporadic, and seldom read. It has evolved into a daily article published on a variety of platforms with a potential audience that has now crept into the thousands. Not every one of them reads it. And not all of those who do find value in it. But the feedback I get encourages me to continue.

What Does the Future Hold?

So what does the future hold for me? I have never been very good at reading crystal balls. I do not know what tomorrow holds, much less next year, or ten years from now. But my hope and prayer are that so long as the Lord leaves me here, he will continue to use me. And that I will continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

20 thoughts on “My Journey of Faith”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. My heart is stirring with the promise of hope even though I, as Paul says, do not always do as I should or find myself doing what I should not. My hope remains in Jesus, the Son of the Living God.

  2. Hi Ed and Jesus Freaks, Remember us back in the 70s hanging out at lunch with our Bibles. Those were the good days when we just had to ask others, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” That is not asked anymore. But that very question brought many to think about the best relationship for life will ever have for us. I too was in the military both as a dependent and then joined Navy after school. Those were the good ol days for us to have a firm foundation to work in these days. I pray for those who know how to pray to PRAY as never before for all we have in life and others who need to have Jesus. I pray for God to keep me going to PRAY for many to have a personal relationship with Jesus! Let us show God our love for others as Jesus said and all the words we have in the Bible that would be in red. If only it was easy to help others realize God chose US and we are here for HIM. Please find the “bundle of His” in medical terminology! Jesus did write HIS name on our hearts! Sing praises of Psalms in our prayers that are more worth singing for all we really are worth while He is near! God bless you Ed and Family and all dear souls of our lifetimes. Marga

    • Thanks Marga. Your experience seems different than mine, but that is likely because of differences in how God has made us. I do pray that those who have come to Christ would surrender themselves to him and live lives that would honor him and draw others to him.

  3. Hi Ed,

    Thank you so much for this great sharing and also for sharing regularly the scriptures on your devotional-type posts. In the name and through the Son, our Lord God, Jesus Christ, may the Lord our God Father continually blessing you giving you always what you need according to his will, amen .

  4. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Lord Jesus. As an introvert too I struggle to share my faith with people. How have you come to overcome this barrier in your life?

    • I seek to live out my faith wherever I am. And if someone asks me why I believe what I do, I simply explain to them what Jesus has done for me and why I believe (1 Peter 3:15).

  5. I thank my Lord often that He put us together as not only part of that group of friends, but also as sharing an off-base apartment for a good part of that time. I received Jesus as my savior back then in April 1973 and saw much of my defining growth and understanding of discipleship during those early years of faith. I often thank the Lord for putting us in Sicily together where we received a solid foundation through Gods Word, prayer and fellowship. I love you brother.

    • That was a special time. My memories have faded. But it still has a special place in my heart. Love you, brother. I am glad the Lord brought us together then. And now, once again.

  6. ISTJ If my memory serves me correctly. I continue to find the interface of psychology and theology interesting. Ed, enjoyed the read. I have been considering the defining moments of my life, an exercise well known psychologist Phil McGraw recommends. Would you consider writing on this subject as a follow up on this post?

    I’m a newbie to your work, and find great encouragement in it. I especially like that in you I have found a prayer partner. I have been praying for personal revival in these days, and have been very encouraged by the movement of God reported at Asbury. Blessings, Ed. Before your life ends, wouldn’t it be great if either of us could write of personal revival? On your watch, your writings may touch the heart of who knows who, and be a catalyst for such a change.

    With God all things are possible.

    • According to Myers-Briggs, I am an ISTJ as well. I have written about being an introvert in the church already, https://aclayjar.net/2022/05/introverts-in-the-church/

      I also continue to seek to grow in my faith and walk. It is a good journey.

      And I am always grateful, and humbled, to hear that my offerings here are helpful and encouraging to other believers. God can do great things when we get out of the way.

  7. Thanks for the reflective thoughts and history of your journey. I’m glad to have participated in part of it as well. I hope this also causes your readers, as it did me, to consider our own journeys in the same way. As different as they may be, there is a joy in the unity we have in Christ Jesus. Thanks for your many writings! God bless and happy belated birthday brother.


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