Professor and Head, Department of Horticulture
Dr. Bailey’s Spiritual Journey –
Although I grew up in a Christian household that regularly attended church, I really didn’t fully grasp or appreciate the importance of having a faith until much later in life. As a teenager and a young adult, I used to say I am too busy trying to be a good person to be a good Christian. During this time (I now realize), I was living for myself and my priority was me. I justified my actions through my own personal desires. I had a casual relationship with God, but never got very close to Him; church became a thing of the past. I was aware of His attempts to steer me into a closer relationship, but I ignored those prompts.
Over time, I realized something was missing. Self-satisfaction really wasn’t all that satisfying. I wanted more meaning in my life. Finally, I recognized that I had to change or else I’d continue to pursue my selfish desires (that never seemed to bring the pleasure that their allure suggested), and I would never be able to fill the void within me that kept growing each day. I needed help from God, as I knew I couldn’t fix this on my own. After all, I had already given self-reliance a good go and it was unsuccessful; time to try another route.
Many people can recall an exact time and place associated with their receiving Christ into their lives. I cannot. Once I became aware of my need for something more, I began to pray for forgiveness and for the will to change. Church became a component of my life once again, and this time, church had significance. As I accepted Christ and turned my life over to Him, I began to sense fulfillment (joy) and meaning in my life. Values changed; people and relationships started to receive the attention they deserved. Selfish desires declined in importance. I realized a shift in my priorities, and it felt right. That internal void was starting to disappear.
As my faith in Christ grew, I appreciated my personal relationship with God more and more. However, I still felt something was missing in my life; it wasn’t complete. During this time, I attended a spiritual renewal weekend, and I came to the realization that I had been taking in and storing up the blessings given to me by God (that felt good). However, I also realized that to be a better / more complete Christian, I needed to learn how to pass those gifts and blessings along. I needed to share the love God had shown me with my family, my friends, and with others. Since this revelation, I have been working on expressing my faith to others living it rather than hoarding it (this feels even better!). As I continue to expand my faith to all aspects of my life, the internal void continues to shrink. The sense of life, purpose and fulfillment increases. There is a plan and God has a role for each of us in that plan. I am thankful to be plugged into His plan