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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Wednesday, October 6

"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate?"
—Romans 7:15

I was in my mid-twenties. I was not a baptized person. I did not attend any worship services. Married with three children, I kept busy with endless sales work and trying to be part of the family. Two of my children were my wife’s from her previous marriage, and it was not as easy as I had thought, being a father.

Though we didn’t know exactly where that should be, we knew it was time to find a church for the kids. My wife was a lapsed Episcopalian, so we dropped them at the nearest parish church for Sunday school and would pick them up afterwards. An alert associate rector of the parish came calling; he wanted to meet the parents of “these lovely children.”

Of course he encouraged us to attend worship services rather than just drop the kids at the door. I was highly resistant. I came from a Jewish family and I didn’t need any help with my life from any Church. He was most patient. He was also engaging. I couldn’t believe a priest could be an ex-Marine. So I met with him and we talked and talked and talked. I enjoyed him, but it took quite a while for me to see the connection between my life and his church.

Then, one day, for some reason, he introduced me to St. Paul, and more specifically, to the verses in Chapter 7 in the Letter to the Romans, beginning at verse 14. In it Paul admits that he often acts in ways that go against his better instincts. He says he is in a struggle with his “lower nature” and wonders, cries out in fact, for someone to help. And then he says that Jesus Christ can help him. That grabbed me so profoundly that it changed my life forever.

I knew that I had thoughts and feelings that went against “the better angels of my nature.” I hated my impatience and temper with my children. What I didn't know was that I was not alone in these kinds of thoughts, feelings and behavior, and that God loved me anyway. Wow. Things were never the same after that.

O Lord, Father and Mother God, please continue to nurture me and lift me to my best self. Help me to always be open to your presence in my daily life. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.