More from Gail Fritz
My older brother, the one who went out on the pond as I mentioned in today's meditation, had a beautiful, carefree spirit about him. He lived life with joy and enthusiasm. I think he might have somehow sensed that he needed to squeeze every last ounce out of life. He died at 33 of a heart attack, just two years older than our father was when he died of a heart attack as well. I’m not sure my brother stepped into a church during his adult years other than to attend weddings and funerals, but he was a walking example of Christ-like behavior, especially in his kindness and generosity. He never met a stranger and made everyone feel welcomed and accepted.
Unlike my older brother, I have often approached opportunities with an overcautious and overthinking spirit. Hard to believe we came from the same parents! So it makes sense that my faith and trust in God isn’t as unbridled as I would like it to be.
Recently, however, I metaphorically took a risk and jumped into the deep end of the pond. Two years ago, at age 57, I enrolled in Duke Divinity School to quench my thirst for a deeper understanding God’s word. I was often in over my head and nearly drowned by all the information I had to absorb, but I will graduate this May with a Masters in Christian Studies. Certainly no one has to go to Divinity School to deepen their relationship with God, but it was part of my journey, my script.
Just this week I was reading about John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. Many are familiar with how his heart was “strangely warmed” after hearing a reading on Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. It was after that experience that Wesley no longer doubted his own salvation. But what I found interesting is that Wesley had already been doing ministry for years when this conversion occurred. At one point he was sailing to the New World with a Moravian contingent to serve as a pastor in Georgia. When a terrific storm came up, threatening their lives, he was moved by the Moravians’ calmness and faith and began to doubt the depths of his own faith. Much later Wesley went to one of his Moravian friends, Peter Boehler, because he felt he should quit preaching because he lacked faith. Boehler advised him to preach until he had faith and after he got it to keep preaching because of it. He did, and on May 24, 1738 he had the experience that changed his life.
Even John Wesley doubted his faith! This story is very reassuring to me. I imagine, like me, Wesley wanted to have surefooted, unabashed faith, but God met both of us where we were in our own journeys and guided us to where we wanted and needed to be, even if it was through a long and circuitous route. And that is precisely the kind of loving, patient, and persistent God we can all put our faith and hope in!
- Gail Fritz