My Christian Story
“I Have Called You By Name….”
By Peter Kroneman
January 22, 2002
It was the summer of my first year at youth Bible camp, called L.T.C.– Leadership Training Camp. It was here at this camp that I came to know Jesus on a personal and very real basis. It was during one of the evening worship services that the reality of the crucifixion became apparent on my life. I wept out of an overwhelming sense of guilt that I had actually put Him on the cross for me. It was a life that was transformed from the worldly to the godly. I believe that repentance is a one time thing, but renewal of the godly life is a daily matter; just as a person must be washed everyday, so must the Christian life must be renewed each day. This is often easier said than done. The Christian life does not prevent people from committing sinful acts, it does not prevent tragedy from striking, it does not make life seem more fair? The Christian life does awaken the spiritual content of what happens on a daily basis and makes the Christian aware that God is present– especially when God’s presence seems not only questionable but out right deniable.
The Christian life has stayed my course from that summer evening so long ago. The trial and tribulations of life have visited me. I have come to a quick realization that they cannot be avoided, they can only be dealt with– either from a Christian perspective or from the worldly perspective. The Christian view would be to deal with adversity through hope, the worldly view is to deal with adversity through despair– “the world is coming to an end” instead of “there is a world that awaits us beyond what our physical bodies can reach.” One hope, the other despair, all based upon one idea; the resurrection. The resurrection brings a life of hope, without it, it brings a life of despair.
People living with a worldly view say that God does not and cannot exist because he cannot be physically seen, heard or touched. Those living the Christian faith say that God can be seen, heard and touched; not in just one statuesque form but in the people that we interact with on a daily basis. God is simply too big to be contained in a statue or any other graven image. God is also present during our times of greatest need. When our soul finally says, ”I am ready to listen.” This is when I have been the closest to God. God is so great that it is possible to deal with people on an individual basis– this is what the Bible is all about. He speaks and I will listen and ACT. There have been several times when I have called on the Lord, and He has instructed me.
I can remember back in college when I first had this experience with God. I had come to a point where I needed guidance for my life. I was deciding on career choices; a teacher or a pastor. I was equally qualified for both and was receiving pressure from many different people to choose one over the other. I finally went to the Lord in prayer for 2 weeks, each day I would take the time to commune with God for direction. I can remember being told, as clear as day, “I need you in the schools.” End of discussion, I was going to be a teacher. Too many people have desecrated the idea of God speaking to them, using it for personal gain. I think the true test of whether or not God has actually spoken to a person is to ask “is it self-serving or Christ-serving?” The answer to this will become immediately apparent. “I have called you by name to become a teacher.” This was not the only time that I have been directly instructed by God.
There was the time when a relationship that I was involved with took the direction of considering marriage. I was not sure what to do with this, again, I went to God in prayer and was guided by Him, that this was not the right time, place or person. This was an extremely difficult pill to swallow. But, now as the years have passed, it has become apparent why He made that decision.
Finally, the greatest test of faith came when my brother died at age 24. This was beyond agonizing for me and my family. The death was a result from a brain aneurysm. It was instantly fatal. This would begin a period of grieving that was beyond description. Ironically, the last thing in the world that I wanted to discuss, hear about or even pray to was God. I could not even open my Bible for months. It literally made me sick to open the Bible. So, did faith fail me in my time of need? I was still looking for that teaching job that I had been called for several years ago in college. I was at the lowest point of my life. Again, I cried out to God, literally, about what to do. Again, I was answered directly by Him, “It is time to go.” Shortly after that a call came out of the blue for a teaching position in Florida; over 2,000 miles away. It was only 10 weeks after my brother died that I got this call. I needed to take this position, even though it was so far away. I took the job, against my family’s great protests. I used my time in Florida to do a great deal of healing. Though, the first year of teaching was nothing short of miserable.
I am now waiting upon the Lord to show me the way to the next stop in life.
December 21, 2003
The next step in life was to eventually leave Florida, after teaching there for three years, and return to Minnesota. Looking back on my experience in Florida, I have come to see God in a whole new light. I can look back and see how God was present even when I never thought he was. The people that he put in my life leading up to and right after my brother’s death. The time spent in Florida was necessary, because it got me away from everyone and everything and allowed me the time to heal on my own. It was time well spent.
But, again, God’s presence indicated to me that it was time to go. This lead me to Northfield, Minnesota and the United Methodist Church there where I took a part time youth ministry job. Along with that job, I took another job teaching part time at the middle school. The job at the church did not last long when I was put into a position that required me to make a decision: resign or be fired. This was an unfair position for me since I did not do anything that would warrant such a decision, but it became clear that my presence was no longer wanted. This situation made me very angry, not towards the congregation, but towards the powers-that-be, for allowing this situation to occur. I took several weeks away from attendance and it was in May of 2003 that something interesting happened. I had ran across several people from the congregation that were asking me to consider returning to church. The interesting part was each of these conversations were independent of each other and occurred with in twenty four hours. Additionally, it was the same weekend that was the anniversary of my brother’s death. The worldly view of this would be to regard it as not thing extraordinary and as just a chance event. The life of faith tells us that this was something more than just a mere coincidence.
November 18, 2007
Several Years later, and many things have changed; some for the better and some for the worse. After several years of off again/on again employment, I was finally led to Rochester, Minnesota to work in the social services field with adolescents. It has been a wonderful match for me!! It took me over 500 applications to finally land a full-time job. I had to first accept that I was done pursuing a teaching career. But I remember a time of discernment years prior where I felt God speak to me “I need you in the schools” and that is exactly where I am in a way that I had never imagined and doing work with far more significant implications.
The past several years have encountered significant turmoil and distress. In December 2004, mom was killed walking across the street on a December afternoon in downtown Sioux Falls. The driver had been blinded by the late afternoon sun, did not see mom in the crosswalk until it was too late. I remember laying on the floor of the ICU waiting room praying my little heart out to God not to let this happen again. Again, my pleas went unanswered. Now only 5 ½ years later, I have buried half of my family. Not where I expected life to be at 30. I have a new understanding of what Jesus meant when hanging on the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” I cannot say it any better than that. What impresses me more is the dead silence that follows. There is simply no response from God. What is a person of faith to do when the response we expect to get from God simply does not happen?