Spiritual Life

TV personality Spencer Christian shares how he connects with God

Many people in the Bay Area are familiar with Spencer Christian, weatherman for ABC News in San Francisco.

Christian worked in TV news for more than 44 years, as a weather forecaster, feature reporter and guest host. He served as spokesman for ABC’s literacy campaign, published a series of children’s books and hosted “Spencer Christian’s Wine Cellar” on the Food Network.

Christian is also an active follower of Christ.

He wrote an essay for the upcoming book “What’s With You and God? Discover How Well You Know God” (Living Dialog Ministries) by Irving Stubbs. The essay expands on seven principles for growing close to God: Live connected with God, live with love, live with courage, live up to your potential, live in dialog, live in hope and live as servant leaders.

In his essay, Christian explores how these principles shaped his faith and relationship with God.

Here’s a truncated version of his essay:

Before I began writing these words, I spent quite a few hours examining my connection with God – thinking deeply about what “living connected with God” means to me. I concluded that it literally means everything, because feeling connected with God is what gives my life meaning and purpose. As I reflected on my relationship with God, it also became clear to me that the seven principles for knowing God are not separate and independent concepts. For me, living connected with God – continually seeking Him – brings all of these principles together in concert, reminding me that God is always available, always accessible, and wants us to be connected with Him.

As I write this, I am in my 68th year in this world. Yet, I can recall vividly how my parents practiced the “principles” in a way that was so instructive and inspiring for me that I could feel God’s presence in my earliest recollections from childhood. Love was probably the first of these principles that I felt and understood. I was raised in a poor, rural community in the old, segregated South.

Despite being relegated to second-class citizenship for the first 50 years of their lives, my parents taught my brother and me to love, to forgive, to be hopeful and – above all – to trust in God to make things better. And, indeed, He did. As we watched the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s unfold on the evening news, my parents would point to each advancement as a demonstration of God’s faithfulness, while also reminding us that most of the Civil Rights advocates were servant leaders of profound faith.

My parents encouraged me to seek commonality with everyone, as a way of achieving greater understanding, discovering common interests and values, and building a sense of community.  So, of course, this meant living in dialog. God clearly invites us to have dialog with Him through His living word and through prayer. Doesn’t it naturally follow that He desires us to have dialog with each other?

I learned at a very early age, from the example set by my parents, that being connected with God would bring joy to my life. Having daily dialog with Him by reading His Word or by talking to Him in prayer gives me great comfort in moments of uncertainty and pain – and I do believe that pain is necessary for spiritual growth. Without suffering, how can we know the fullness of joy?

Had I not experienced discrimination in my early life, had I not grown up economically underprivileged, I might very well not be so grateful, so thankful, for a life so richly blessed.

Surely, one of those blessings is the gift of communication, which has enabled me to have dialog with everyone from paupers to presidents. Perhaps more important, though, is the dialog I’ve witnessed in times of shared pain and suffering. When a tornado, hurricane or flood devastates a community, I’ve seen people who had never spoken to each other before come together in the most caring and supportive fashion, having some of the most meaningful dialog of their lives.

Clearly, all of these principles for knowing God are closely related and are all of immeasurable value. Yet, I must cite servant leadership as a principle that makes me feel especially connected with God. Perhaps it reminds me of Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples; or maybe serving others takes me back to my childhood, when I watched my poor, hardworking parents assemble Christmas gift baskets that my father and I would deliver across our rural county to the elderly, the housebound and to families that were even poorer than we were.

Even the Son of Man said that he did not come to be served, but to serve. Surely, when we serve others as Jesus did, we are living connected with God.

Skip Vaccarello is a longtime Los Altos resident and founder of the website Finding God in Silicon Valley. For more information, visit findinggodinsiliconvalley.com.

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