Christianity has been no picnic for me. I suspect that when you believe anything wholeheartedly, it demands more of you than you imagined possible. At least, that's the way it's worked for me. Since I never really have been the type of person to accept life based on someone else's experience, my picnic was interrrupted by any number of natural disasters and unexpected visitors.
From a young age, I really struggled with legalism. It was an issue in my denomination so it wasn't any wonder I grew up believing Christianity meant women wore skirts to church, everyone voted Republican and the really dedicated drove a GM product. Into my teens, I found myself pitying those who weren't as good as I was. I was better because of the list of things I didn't do, and I honestly believed I deserved praise for all the effort I was expending on behalf of God Almighty. My reward was going to be great, I reasoned.
Then, Christianity became unsatifactory--less than fulfilling. I was missing something, but I couldn't pinpoint the cause of the disconnect. Most of the requirements from my early church days went out the door--they didn't seem necessary to living a life pleasing to Christ. I began asking questions: "What does it mean to live like a Christian?"
I learned a lot about worship in those days. My college friends were largely Christians who were asking the same types of questions I was, so I found our relationships challenging and edifying. Two of those people would be the catalysts that ignited a fire in my body to know the living Christ I professed.
Thanks to my friend, Janna, I learned large sections of Isaiah 61, and truly believed God could bind up the broken hearted. I developed a real prayer relationship with my Saviour, but still believed that Christians fit into a particular mold--without that shape, the person couldn't be a Christian, right?
Fast forward about ten years: Favorite and I found ourselves at the bottom of a black hole. We looked as good as we possibly could--church every Sunday, Bible Study, Praise and Worship, Sunday School, service projects--but inside? We were broken people. We had no reasonable idea of how to dig our way back to the surface through our devastation. So, we did the only thing we knew to do: gritted our teeth and went through the motions of regular life.
For months, we floundered. We looked for any encouragement and found ourselves faced with criticism we couldn't handle on top of the devastation we had faced. Frustrated and tired, Favorite told me one Sunday, "No more church. I can't do church anymore." His statement wasn't a shock. Sundays had been little more than argument days for months, and sermons consisted of suggestions like "fake it til you make it." We just couldn't fake it anymore.
Exhausted, I prayed two sentences a few nights a week with no hope that my prayer was being answered: "Where are you, God? Show Yourself to us."
Morning came. We got up, went about our day. The sun went down and we went to sleep and the process started over. It wasn't until months later that I could see God's sustaining hand in my life at all. The fact that I was finally able to get up and function may not seem like a miracle to anyone else, but for me? It was answered prayer. God was showing Himself.
In recent months, someone hoped we would find and hear the Truth. So this? Is the Truth:
Christians don't always have it together. I rarely have to have it together. I'm still learning to rely on a God who will show Himself powerful when I'm not sure I can walk again. He is capable of redeeming the worst of sinners--I know that from personal experience. No amount of rule following, happy facing or serving will get any of us any closer to Heaven. Lip service isn't necessary, because we've been set free from all of that nonsense (Galatians 5:1).
More than anything, the Truth is that Christ came so we could live an abundant life (John 10:10). He came to destroy the molds that give us any indication that we are "better" or "different" (Galatians 3:28). But most importantly, Jesus came for the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive, those who mourn, those who have been shamed and those who have been devasted (Isaiah 61).
He loves you...just as you are--no molds, no lip service. And He'll meet you there.
That's the Truth.
Whatever Is Noble Part 1
Whatever Is Noble Part 1