I heard part of one segment of what appeared to be a longer series on NPR not long ago. The series invited classical musicians to think back to that first piece of music they learned that grabbed hold of them and helped them to see that making music would be their life. I think the guy I heard that day was a violinist--someone I had never heard of and someone who can certainly do things I can't. I think the piece he remembered was Mendelssohn. He spoke with genuine affection about how learning to play that piece had changed his life. As I drove wherever I was going that afternoon (The car is my NPR place.) I thought about several pieces of music and the people who brought me to them that have been especially formative for me. Not a professional musician by any stretch, I've still been helped in many ways by singing and listening.
As I thought about that for a while, I began to broaden my thinking to other things that help to form me, and, surprise, surprise, my mind drifted to Scripture. I thought about what a series of interviews like the one I heard about the formative influence of music might sound like if it asked people to think about a text or story from Scripture that has been foundational in the development of their faith. So let's let this conversation place open that discussion. What are some texts or stories from the Bible that you remember from any stage of life or faith that have helped you to decide, "This is who I am. This is what I believe?"
I'll start: some who know me know what's coming. The opening verses of Isaiah 43 have God say, "Don't be afraid. I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine." Long story. My only regret when I hear the affirmation, promise, and challenge in these words is that it took me so long to find them. In most of my growing up years, the Bible was more threat than promise, more accusation than affirmation. Finding this text, "You are mine," opened a whole new way to understand God for me. Now I try to start every day with it in some form: read, remembered, sung, or spoken.
So what made faith possible for you?