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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Thursday, October 7

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
—Psalm 51:17-18

If you read yesterday’s Signpost, you’ll know that I was a reluctant Christian. It was not until an Episcopal priest, a patient and thoughtful man, introduced me to the writings of St. Paul that I understood how Jesus could change my life. 

I continued studying and talking with the priest, until, about four months later, I asked to be baptized. I also asked if, in order to be baptized, I had to believe that Jesus Christ was actually raised physically from the dead.

John Owens, the priest, asked what I did believe about Jesus. I said that Jesus had been sent by God as a “common denominator”: through him we could understand God better, and God could understand us better. Mr. Owens smiled and said, “That will be good enough for starters.” And so I was baptized. As it happened, none of my three children had been baptized, so we had a “family baptism,” which remains very meaningful to me to this day.

When I was first attending services on a regular basis, one of the things that got in my way was saying the creeds. A creed is a statement of something the Church “believes,” and the person saying it theoretically believes it as well. 

I told John Owens that I couldn’t believe all that was in the Creed. He told me to just listen, or to only say those parts that I did in fact believe. He said that there are many shades of belief and that, in the Episcopal Church, all are accepted equally—that life is a “journey in faith,” and that it was okay to be where one was on that path. So I proceeded to become more and more familiar with the story of Jesus and how it could have an effect on my life. I read the Bible for the first time in my life. My “RSV” (Revised Standard Version) was dog-eared after a while. 

I discovered many truths there, not because someone was telling me which stories or doctrine to believe and to see as more important, but because there were teachings in the Bible that rang bells with my own human and private experience. It was thrilling to discover that there are eternal Truths; there are “universals” that tell us about ourselves in significant ways.

God must have set all this up; how else could the truth about “the human condition” be written two to three thousand years ago and apply directly to the truth about me today?

Heavenly God, thank you for those you lead and those whose hearts and ears are open to you. Guide us to hear the cries of others for these divine things. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.