I was always really curious about God. I remember driving my Sunday school teachers down at Hennepin Avenue Church crazy with questions. How can we talk to God? How does He talk to us? How do we know He will answer our prayers. How can we get into Heaven?
It bothered me a lot that they didn’t have answers for most of my questions. I had asked my grandmother Meme, a Methodist — and all I got was — try your best and be a good girl and hope you get in. The vagueness of the reply troubled me greatly. Also I didn’t think I was a particularly good little girl. I teased my little brothers, sometimes my sister and didn’t help my mom enough! When I got older, 7th grade I remember getting mad and saying bad things in my head at the minister’s sermons because he sounded so vague and irritatingly non-committal about everything. When I thought about my questions and my thoughts later, I was sure a girl who was mean to a minister — even in her head — was not headed for anyplace too good at all! This continued on until I turned 13 and was in the 8th grade in Jr. High.
Now let me preface this by saying that I believe I had a big old hole in my heart. I believe I was missing God and I also know I was missing my dad. Now my parents had separated four years earlier and divorced when I was 10. I saw my dad every weekend and intellectually I comprehended the thing and was even behind it. I did not believe my parents belonged together. My dad was also much happier with my step mom, who I really liked and who really liked me and all the kids. My sister Sara, their only child hadn’t come along yet. But despite all this, I was a daddy’s girl. One who had followed my dad around every minute of my life until the day he left and I just plain missed him fiercely. After he moved out he treated us more and more like a grandfather than a dad I thought. He wanted all our time together to be special I imagine, so he spoiled us a bit and didn’t discipline us much…well we were probably on our best behavior too…at least that was my child’s impression. So I missed my dad. The one who used to YELL, Elizabeth Diane Baker if I was in trouble! The firm hand of guidance, and the safety I felt in that.
I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom, so a big part of me was looking for God. Probably the best idea I could have had. That all brings me back to the year I was 13 and in the 8th grade. I was walking home from school one day. I probably missed the bus because it was a two mile walk and I didn’t usually make my way on foot. I was passing by a church and noticed some pretty cool looking kids hanging out, playing in the side yard. I went over and talked to them, liked their banter and decided I’d go there the next Sunday when they asked. As the oldest child in the family I had certain privileges, as well as the safety of our neighborhood and those long ago times. When I told my mom I was walking to a new church on Sunday she let me go! My family drove down to Hennepin Avenue and I walked on a sunny spring day to Colonial Church of Edina and sat myself down in one of the pews.
Well, what did you know but my quest had ended? God had found me! On that sunny side street among friendly, playing children He had set the stage for me to walk right into a place that didn’t intellectualize tired old dogma, but told the story of the New Testament and the love of God in His son Jesus. I was home!
So that’s why I say God found me. Sure I was looking. But I think He set a pretty attractive trap and caught Himself a Libby and changed the course of her whole life! What do you think? Oh, by the way, my mom and my sister and brothers followed me to that church. It was great driving with the family again. We all felt we were home.