Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Thursday, March 23

Finding God

I was raised in a family that believed in God but did not attend church. Going to church was something I wanted to do. Once a van came through our neighborhood and offered to give rides to the First Nazarene Church on Kellogg. I attended there until my father was transferred to Kearney, Nebraska. There was no way for me to attend church there, but I did ask for a Bible for my 10th birthday. I read it to help me stay close to God.

Years later, we returned to Wichita, but I did not return to the Nazarene Church or any church. Then, in my first year at Wichita State University, I met Gary and began attending with him at Reformation. Our relationship grew, and we chose to be married. We chose a date, but Garyís mom asked us to wait a month longer since the new minister would be here by then. I didnít understand the logic, but we did wait for the new minister, and we developed a friendship with Pastor Ron Stanley and his wife Charlotte that we have cherished over the years.

Four years later, as we were preparing for our first born sonís baptism, I confided to Pastor Stanley that I had never been baptized and felt that was something I wanted and needed. He suggested that he baptize me on the Saturday before our sonís Sunday baptism. I was glad. Being baptized gave me a sense of oneness with the church.

A few years after that, my father took his own life. I tried to call my sister, but her phone was not working. We needed to get to Fort Scott and be with our mother. I packed what I needed and set off for my sisterís home in Haysville. I was crying uncontrollably as I drove. Just as I was approaching the on-ramp to the bypass, I felt the presence of a strong hand on my shoulder. I stopped the car and turned around to look in the back seat ... there was no one for me to see. I knew then that God had placed his hand on my shoulder, and feeling Godís presence brought me peace. I was able to continue my drive and give my sister the support she needed.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Itís hard to be grateful for some things, and this diagnosis was one of them. First, I had to learn that I would not be as mobile as I have always been, and second, I had to learn to listen so I can hear Godís voice when I pray. I have bad days with MS, but this thought cheers me up: ďLife isnít always full of reasons to smile, but your smile is a reason for others to smile.Ē Making others smile helps me smile too!

Gary has been by my side through all aspects of my MS journey, and he has shown me the value of true love! I also feel a true connection with God at Reformation and have learned that church is not just something you go to; itís a family you belong to.

Linda Hoepner

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