Sunday, January 11, 2015

Own Your Faith.

Imagine something for me for a minute.

Imagine you just got home from a long day of work. It wasn't a great day. It wasn't a particularly bad day, either. It was just another day. Maybe it was a little frustrating. A little discouraging. Maybe it was just mundane. Whatever it was, it wasn't what you wanted it to be.

You lay down on the couch to recover from the day. You start thinking about your life and where it's headed. Suddenly, you hear a knock on your door. You answer. It's your best friend.

You welcome your friend in. What perfect timing, you think. You have a million and one things on your mind and who better to talk to than the one person who knows your life inside and out?

You sit down and talk. Only you don't have to say much before your friend takes over the conversation. They already know what you're going through. They know your struggles, they know your triumphs, and they know exactly what you need to hear in that moment. And so they say it.

It's amazing to you how well they know your heart. You talk for awhile and then your friend leaves, but the words they said resonate with you for hours. You've never felt so at peace with your life as you do in that moment. Suddenly everything makes sense, and you know everything will be okay.

Have you ever had something like that happen?

I did last week.

I came home from work pretty frustrated. I don't know what I was frustrated with, exactly. I couldn't put a finger on it. There was just something that was bugging me.

I laid down on my couch and let my thoughts run wild. I was trying to figure it out -- why was I so discouraged? What was really bothering me?

It wasn't long before that knock came. Except it wasn't on my door, it was on my heart, and God was on the other side.

I was just sitting on my couch and I felt compelled to go upstairs and read my Bible. I mean, seriously, it was like I was a piece of iron and I was being drawn to my room by the magnetic pull of my Bible. And with the pull came a craving for the Word. I had never been so eager to hear what God was trying to tell me, so I decided to act and I went upstairs and opened up that Bible.

I didn't know what to read, so I just picked up where I had left off that morning. I read about 4 chapters of Hebrews. 4 great chapters of Hebrews. I highlighted so much. I wrote down so many verses. Everything about that 20 minutes spent soaking in the Word felt so right.

You guys have to understand what a breakthrough this was for me. I grew up going to church, I went to a Christian school, I'm part of a strong Christian family -- you might say I'm an expert at reading my Bible, right? I have this relationship with God thing down. Right?

Oh, how I wish that were true.

The problem with being surrounded by Christianity all your life is that it's all you know. You become a Christian because that's just what you do. You go to church because that's where your friends are. And you read your Bible because you feel guilty telling people you don't.
I feel so blessed with the life I have been given. But trusting in God has always been hard for me. I did it because I knew I was supposed to. That was the thing to do. "God's in control" was the thing to say. But that's all it was to me. Something to do. Something to say. It wasn't real.
And I'll be honest. Reading my Bible was more of a chore for me than anything. When I would read, it was mostly just because I felt guilty. I felt like a bad Christian. Like I wasn't doing my job. 
Part of me really wanted to want it. You know? I would read, hoping that one day I'd get to that verse that would change everything for me and then it would actually be something I looked forward to doing. So I'd read. A chapter a day, for a few days. But when I never found that magical verse, I'd get discouraged and stop.

Though another part of me still would stop reading out of rebellion. How dare people tell me I need to read my Bible every day to be a good Christian? I can be a good Christian without doing that. They're wrong. I will show them.

Unfortunately, my genuine desire to want to know the Lord better did not win out over rebellion and discouragement. And right when I thought that was changing, life got in the way.

I got busy. I didn't value it enough and I hadn't established the habit, and I stopped. I "forgot." It just stopped happening. Partly out of rebellion. Partly out of discouragement. And partly out of busyness.

But that desire was still there. So I would pray. (Although, let's be honest, prayer is also another one of those want-to-but-forget-to things for me, so it was more like a thought in my head that I knew God knew, but I rarely actually said it).

I would pray that God would take that desire and multiply it. That He would turn it into something so huge that it simply could not be ignored.

Y'all. I've been praying this for years.
 I find so much comfort in that last line.
So this sudden thirst for wisdom that came over me was a huge answer to prayer. It is definitely a defining moment for me as it marks the first time in my life that I actually turned to God for answers instead of taking matters into my own hands.
And after I spent time listening to what He had to say, I suddenly got some clarity. Clarity about why I was so frustrated and what I'm doing with my life. But that's another story for another day.
In the last year or so I have really started to make my faith my own. When you grow up surrounded by all things Jesus, it's something you really have to do if you're going to be solid in your faith. If you go your whole life believing in God because everyone around you does, without ever really knowing why you believe, it'll just be that much easier to turn away from the faith later in life.
That was me the first 20 years of my life. I believed. I didn't know why. And I didn't really care to know why, either. I just thought, hey, I prayed the prayer. I'm good. I'm going to Heaven. I know that much and that's all I need to know.
When I was in Sunday School, they used to tell us that about half of kids who grew up with a Christian background end up turning away from the faith. I would look around the room, surrounded by all my friends that I had grown up with. We were all regular church-goers. We all came from good, Christian families. There's no way that statistic applied to our group. We were the exception to the rule.

We weren't. I can't tell you how many old friends of mine are no longer believers. Friends I never thought would crack under the pressure of the world. It's truly heartbreaking.

That was really eye-opening for me. And it scared me.

I think that was part of my motivation to really start seeking God and learning to love Him on my own. But it didn't really start happening until I went through a series of really hard circumstances (one I talk about here, one detailed here, and one that is currently still ongoing). I had to really learn to rely on Him in order to get through those things.

I'm not saying I've arrived. I definitely haven't. And I don't know that I ever will. Does anyone ever fully get it down, trusting in God? I'm going to just take a wild guess and say no.

But this week I took a step in the right direction. I got just a little bit closer to where I want to be in my relationship with Him. And maybe you're not there yet. Maybe you're way ahead of me. Either way, it's okay, as long as you're moving forward.

As I was telling my friend the other day, God has everyone on a different path. My path is currently very narrow, winding down a steep cliff that runs through a pitch dark and perilous forest, but I've just found a little patch of sunlight shining through some of the trees.

I hope you all can find your sun, too. Or if you already have, I hope it only burns brighter and never sets. But if it does, may it rise again.

{Sorry, I got really into that sun analogy. #nerd}

1 comment :

  1. Kayla this is so good! I can totally relate. When I finally encountered God as a living God that wanted to speak to me and affect me, everything changed. It's a wonderful journey to be on. And I, too, used to read the word out of guilt (sometimes I still struggle with that). But it's amazing when we realize that life with God is not meant to be a boring chore, but wild romance of knowing the lover of our souls, and experiencing the peace of being know by Him as well :)