by Jeff Faunce
In the past few years I have discovered a relationship with God that I didn’t know I could have and more importantly, didn’t know I was missing. It has been a difficult few years, but through the darkness, I have come to recognize God in my life, and the ways that God has guided me through the shadows. It is now, however, that I am learning that God is with me, not just in darkness but also in light.
There have been several places and people who seem to have been facilitators of God’s presence through this process. The first is North Church. Two of the questions that Mary (Mohlke, who facilitated the “Stories of Good News” series) sent me were “How had God blessed you?” and “How do you bless the Lord?” For me the second question is easier, and the answer I thought of first is through music.
The choir at North has been like a family to me and provided support as friends, but the music itself has also been a huge part of my journey. I think at its most basic, singing in the choir is a concrete way that I bless the Lord. I have to thank the choir and specifically Marlene (choir director) for that opportunity. Simply the act of singing each week has provided more support and strength to me then I could ever express. And it’s a whole lot of fun too!
Another place that has been a huge part of my journey has been the City Gate Life Recovery Center in Buffalo. I attended a wonderful men’s group there as well as individual sessions with its founder, Carol Conklin, and have taken great strength and peace from both. Mary’s questions mentioned “thin places,” and I believe with all my heart that the Center is one of those places, just as is North Church.
In terms of people, there are so many, but a few stand out. My sister and brother-in-law have been instrumental in helping me to get to know God on a personal basis and to truly, honestly believe that I can turn to God and that God is listening and will give me strength. It was my brother-in-law Jorge (a born again evangelistic fundamentalist conservative Christian who has recently decided he is also Jewish) who told me in simple terms: “Jeff, it’s a God thing, not a church thing.” I had always had what I have come to call a corporate relationship with God that happened every Sunday from 10:30 until noon, and other times when I was physically in the building, but it was Jorge that taught me that God can be a part of my everyday life.
Pastor Bill Hennessy, my parents, and others have been instrumental in helping me to discover or rediscover the joy that life can be with God as an everyday presence in my life, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.
As for Mary’s other question, “How has God blessed you?” For a long time I thought God hadn’t. But I have come to learn that God has blessed me with health, happiness, and with wonderful friends, family and two amazing children. Within the last year, God has also blessed me in immeasurable ways through my relationship with Lisa, my girlfriend. I did not think I was worthy of happiness, but Lisa has shown me through her love that I am worthy of being loved and that I have love to give. I thank God every day for my blessings, and mention her each morning along with my children, my family and friends, and for everything in my life that I can now see again, or perhaps for the first time, for the wonderful chance we all have to live as witnesses of God’s unyielding, unerring, undying, and unfathomable love.
This is the prayer I say every morning: “My dearest loving and wondrous God, thank you for all of the blessings you have given me. I am a child of God, and I want to walk in the light and live a life that is worthy of the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. Amen.”
This is the second in a series of stories by people who shared their “Stories of Good News” during the Lenten season at North Church in February and March.
Previous Stories: Karen (Richardson) Roesser