Last night at Fair Oaks Church we had a very special guest at the pulpit, Rev. Gerald Stokes. If that name sounds somewhat familiar, it's because he is the father of Fair Oak's Senior Pastor, Rev. David R. Stokes.
On Wednesday nights at Fair Oaks we've been working through a series called The Patmos Files, a verse-by-verse study on the book of Revelation. Rev. Gerald Stokes recently visited the area of Greece and "Asia Minor" that's referenced in the first chapters of Revelation and he was coming to share his perspective on the 7 churches (a tad different than his son's which I found amusing).
It was a wonderful sermon, of course, very thought provoking ... but I took away from it something special that was somewhat unrelated to the book of Revelation, except that the church at Ephesus (who had lost her first love) was the vehicle.
Rev. Gerald Stokes shared a story about his experience of having been raised Catholic, and being saved as an adult. He described a passionate, budding romance he felt with Jesus that was exciting, like the courtship of lovers that brought a lump to my throat.
I, too, grew up Catholic. I was always an active servant in my church, but didn't know what it meant to have a relationship with the Lord until I was adult. When my husband Edward and I were dating, we started going to "his" church and that was where I opened my heart to Jesus.
"Romance" ... Rev. Gerald Stokes's words were taken right out of my heart. That's exactly what it felt like (and often still does). A Courtship with Christ - could anything be more beautiful? more exciting? What was most special for me, though, was to hear it described that way by someone else and especially by a man. I had often wondered if the fact that I'm a woman influenced the way I interpreted those feelings.
I also wonder about that when I think about my kids and their walk with the Lord. My boys were saved a very young age ... in human terms, can an 8, 9, 10-year old possibly experience passionate, romantic courtship and the hunger for intimacy with Jesus in those kind of adult terms? Do people who are saved at a young age "miss out" on something or do they just experience it later in a different context or as a renewal of faith as they grow in their walk?
Don't get me wrong, I know all too well what I missed out on (that my kids do have), having not walked with Jesus until I was an adult, but I wonder how the "romance" translates ...
What was your experience?