Christians are good at hiding things. Or at least they think they’re good at hiding things. You see, for some reason, for a community where we’re supposed to love each other and be supportive, we manage to be fairly unloving and non-supportive at times. I include myself in that. Because of that, you have to be wise about who you share yourself with – there are enough people who are waiting for you to screw up so they can say “Ha, I knew she wasn’t little Miss Perfect”, or “Told you their relationship was messy underneath all those soppy facebook statuses…”.
So as part of our facade, we sometimes project the idea that Christianity isn’t supposed to be THAT hard. I mean, obviously they talk about it in sermons and use words like ‘struggle’, and ‘battle’ and ‘victory’, but when you look around you at the Super Sanctifieds who post a billion Bible verses on facebook and a weekly Bible meme for added measure, they make it seem all so easy. It doesn’t appear that a lot of people seem to be having as much trouble connecting with God as you do. They all seem to be bubbling over with enthusiasm and joy.
You get easily distracted when you read the Bible. You’re finding it really hard to forgive that person who wronged you. You still sometimes slip back into those old habits you thought you’d dealt with. You don’t always ‘feel’ God’s presence. You have a position in a church or ministry and you don’t want people to know that you’re not as holy as they think you are. You post a million bible verses on facebook and are doing a devotional daily but you still don’t feel like this whole things comes as naturallly to you as it should.
I remember sulking to God one day that Christianity just doesn’t agree with my natural temperament. “Some people, are just more naturally ‘Christian’..y’know…like, those quiet, nice type people who just naturally want to throw out rainbows and sunshine, and pour out love to the whole world. They don’t raise their voices, they hate breaking the speed limit because it’s against the ‘rules’, they never say anything bad about anyone and they don’t appear to have a sex drive or like chocolate. I’m not like that by nature God… I’m cynical, I’m impatient, I’m vocal with my opinion in places where no one asked for it, I put my foot in my mouth at least once a day, and I actually take a sick pleasure in breaking the speed limit or walking through a corridor that says ‘no entry’. I’ve been like that since the age of 3. You’ve given other people a head start…”.
A quote that I found from a book I read recently says “One of God’s gifts to some of us is to just not be immediate, so that we have to undergo the kind of discipline necessary to have what others seem to have effortlessly”…
Being a Christian isn’t always easy. It’s not an effortless relationship where every day is great, and every day you are full of faith, and every day you feel this awesome overwhelming sense of the presence and love of God. You will be confused sometimes. You will be angry sometimes. You might take ages to overcome a sin that others seem to overcome in minutes. You will doubt God’s existence. You will doubt the sincerity of your own intentions.
You are not exceptional or unique in your humanity. Habbakuk cried out to God because he didn’t understand how He could claim to be loving and yet still allow evil. David slept with another man’s wife and then murdered the guy. Hannah spent years and years begging God to listen to her prayer before he finally gave her what she asked for. Elijah ran and hid in a cave because he began to doubt God. Paul fell out with someone he was supposed to be doing ministry with.
I don’t believe we have to make any effort for God to know us or love us – each human being is more fully known to God than to themselves, but we do have to make an effort for US to know God. Sometimes, that will seem as natural as breathing. And sometimes life will be so overwhelming that all you can pray is “Eek, help!” The good news is that ‘Eek, help!’ is as much a prayer as any, that your feelings aren’t reliable, that God takes 50 million steps for every fifth of a step you take, and that Christianity doesn’t come naturally to any of us.
It’s not easy for me to bite my tongue or do as I’m told. It’s not easy for my mind to stay focused on one thing for more than 20 minutes (I’m almost convinced that I actually have some mild adult form of ADHD). But it easy for me to speak when other people are too scared to say a truth that might need to be said. It’s easy for me to get up in an instant and go wherever I feel I’m meant to be at any given time, because I have the attention span of a gnat.
God can make your greatest weakness into your greatest strength. It might not be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
Peace guys x