Monday, January 3, 2011

I do not know how to be a Christian anyore.

If Satan asked to sift Peter as wheat I feel as though he may have asked to run me across a cheese grater. Seriously. You know how you have a nice whole block of cheese and then you run it across a cheese grater? What happens to that whole, solid and firm block of cheese? It is turned into a pile of seperate bits, completely unwhole. Just little bits and pieces scattered about. I feel that like spiritually.

I cannot even fathom how I got to this place of being completely unable to do Christianity anymore. I want to do it. I just don't know how to do it anymore.

I feel like there is this huge battle being waged in my mind over whether the Bible is even all really real or not. This from the girl whose read the dern book several times and teaches classes. Well, not anymore. I feel myself having to fend off thoughts that the whole thing is just a bunch of bull poop. It is horrible. Unbelievably horrible.

I am so grateful that I have had so many experiences with that God that I can fend that off. I know He is real. I have experienced things and answer to prayer that was so specific that there was just no way it was anything other than God. Prayer answerings aside, I have experienced Him in ways that I know for a fact that he is undeniably real. Thankfully.

Why don't I know how to be a Christian anymore?

First, there is an out for every promise in the Bible except salvation and even a lot of Christians will say that your salvation is contingent on staying in relationship with the Lord and you can lose your salvation by not worshiping. So. What do you do with that? I'll get more into the outs in a sec.

Secondly and most importantly, I have always been taught that I should rely on the Lord for everything. He is my source and strength. He is my healer. He is my provider. He is my help. He is my shield. I should walk in His ways and He will make my paths straight. He is my light. He and the Holy Spirit are my Counselor and Teacher. If I seek Him with all of my heart, I will find him. Let's just have a little lookey at the good old standby of Jeremiah 29:11 &12.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 (New King James Version)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

Here's the rest...
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

We all just love Jeremiah 29:11 but I have always thought it was important to include the rest about doing it with your whole heart part too. BUT, I ask myself this question now "What if that Scripture was not for all of us?" "What if, that was only meant for the Israelites who were in captivity at that time that those words were being directly spoken to. Because that was not a blanket statement made by God. He was directing those words to a specific group of people, the Israelites who were in captivity and God wanted to bring them back. What if it was just meant for them?"

Here's the real deal. I have spent years and years believing that if I put God first, worshiped him wholly with a heart of just wanting Him & not what He could do for me but just wanting Him, and being a sweet little Christian girl, trying to follow His will for my life that God would direct me. He would take me down the path I need to be on. He would help me. He would give me wisdom when I need it. He would give me knowledge when I do not know what to do or how to understand something. I don't think doing all that allows me to have a life that is a bed of roses because my life has never been roses. I've never had it easy since I left home at 16. NEVER. So, my confusion is not that I do what the Word says I should do and my life is not a bed of roses. My complete and utter confusion is that I do not find any of that to be true in my life. The above promises.

What I have come to realize is that I have to do everything for myself. I have to rely solely on myself for every little thing. AND, everything the bible teaches me says the opposite. That God should be what I rely on. That I should look to Him and what I see is that the only thing I can look to is me. So, if I am trusting in myself how am I trusting in God? If I have to rely on myself for everything what am I relying on God for? If I am my only source of security based off my own decisions and actions then how is God my security? I mean seriously, this has really rocked my Christian world. I have come to realize that the only way you get anything is to get it yourself. The only way you have security is to secure it yourself. The only way is by ourselves and I see absolutely no favor or help extended towards Christians. What I see is people get what they have based on their own personal decision making and actions, not by having a pure heart of worship and putting God first and then God guides them to give them that peace, hope and a future like Jeremiah says. Jesus talks about wanting to give us an abundant life. Why do so many Christians lives suck then? Which leads us into the out for all the promises which highly confuses me. I'll do this if you do that. Oh, well they aren't really devoted we say....those promises are only for those who passionately pursue God daily. Well, I know plenty of people including myself who do that and our lives suck too.

Then we have this out, my favorite out, God does not promise our rewards in this lifetime. OH, okay, so all the stuff in the Bible that talks about anything good is meant for when we get to Heaven. Okay, well not true. There are plenty of references about God and Jesus caring about our welfare right here on this earth. God seemed to love to bless and give abundance to the people in the Bible.

This out confuses me too, I will have mercy on whom I choose to have mercy. This tells us a lot. There is no blanket procedural standard for which God deals with us. We are all treated differently. My last post on David vs. Moses I really started to deal with my confusion over how completely differently God deals with each of us. Two people can commit the same sin and be dealt with completely differently. One can commit a sin we may think is pretty minor and forgivable and have to die for it. Another can commit adultery, murder, etc and get to be king and thrive in abundance. So if we are all dealt with differently how can you look at a scripture and reasonably assume that if you follow it that it will apply to you? Because lets' face it too, most of scripture is being directed to a certain people or person. What was being said may have actually been just for them.

The root of this is the horribleness of what happened at my last church and us having to leave. The effects of my old Pastor's actions and the congregation continue to shake my Christian world. So, my old Pastor gets to nag and drive someone away from the Lord and my husband has to be hurt, have no community connection to the Lord and gets emotionally destroyed and the Pastor gets to continue on and thrive. Why is that? Why? What I see is no dealing with us at all, I see us doing what we want and the results we get are based off what we do and nothing else. I see people have good marriages or bad marriages based solely off the good or bad decision making they did when they chose a partner. I see people thrive or fail based solely off their own personal decision making. And what about that Christian community anyway? Not one phone call, not one anything from anyone asking what happened to us? I poured my whole self into prayer and study and listening to the Holy Spirit guide me as I wrote the ladies bible studies and the ladies who came to the ladies bible studies told me how much they loved them and that they impacted their lives. They all loved to tell me how much they loved me. Bull poopy! I disappear and not a word. So, wow, thanks for loving me people.

Then I look at how my husband and I are struggling with our business and how hard my husband works and I ask myself.....where is the favor of the Lord? Why doesn't he help us? It's not that I even want Him to do something supernatural and make us rich or anything. I would like a little help, a little protection. We are plagued with people who continually cheat us, don't pay us, take advantage of us, and want everything in the world for nothing. I have served and put God first for years and years, where is our abundant life? If we want anything we have to use our own wisdom and go do it for ourselves. We work, with the exception of the last 2 years where I work from home for my husband I never worked less than 50 hours a week and that was the minimum. So, never let it be thought that I just want to lay around and wait on God to tell me what to do and then I go do it and he blesses the poo out of it. I am not like that. I worked like a freakin animal my whole life. I'm not sitting around waiting to be blessed. But what I have come to realize is that my life is not what it is because of anything I do with God or my faith. My life is what it is based off of the people in my life, the decisions I make and the people I come into contact with and nothing else.

So, what I am supremely confused about is what role God has in my life here on this earth. I have spent all day every day focusing my trust and direction coming from the Lord. What I see is that I have to do everything myself. So, if my happiness, my good marriage, my finances, my parenting all are based off of me, my decisions, what am I relying on Him for? I have to do it myself and I have spent years and years believing that I should rely on Him and not myself. That my security should lie in God and not me and my wisdom. But what I see is that my life is great or stinky because of my wisdom.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 is my life scripture. I personalize it and say it all the time. I will trust in the Lord will all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways I will acknowledge you and you will make my paths straight.

I am not supposed to trust in my own understanding. I am supposed to trust Him and believe He will guide my path. I should place myself in His custody and rely on Him to take me where I need to be. Well, I've done that and still am not on any path that is good and beneficial for me or my family. The only path I can see God has taken me on is a spiritual path. He has guided me to places that I could do His will in church or help others. What I also see is that perhaps this path is a spiritual one and not a worldly one. Perhaps, what happens to me worldly wise is based off my own doing and what happens to me spiritually is based off my faith and interaction with the Lord. I am not sure. What I do know is that my life is hard. My life has always been hard. I know I honestly can say that I worshiped out of love and sought the Lord just because I wanted more of Him. I wasn't looking for results. But, I do get frustrated at the fact that I see promises in the Bible and I think I fulfill my part and yet, I do not see the promise. All I see is the out for the promise. I see mean nasty people, even mean nasty church people thriving and beautiful people inside living crappy hard lives.

So, my realization, my reality is that I can no longer live my life placing my entire trust that whatever happens to me is in the Lord's hands and rely on Him for everything in my life. I don't know how to do that. And, if God is the supreme ruler of the Universe, if He is sovereign and we were created for relationship why wouldn't He be fully involved in our worldly lives. I am just supremely wildly confused as to what part God plays in my life. I don't know how to worship relying on me and trusting in me and also trusting and relying on Him. How do I do both? How do I know whatever happens to me is based off my actions and yet place my life in His hands? I don't get it. I don't know how to do both. Was I taught wrong? Did I understand the Bible wrong? Hmmm, I have no answers. I can't pray and I don't anymore hardly at all. I pick up my Bible still a couple days a week. I am torn and a wild hot mess. I just don't know how to not look to Him and me. I just know how to look to Him. UGH. Well, let's see how this goes. It should be interesting.

5 comments:

Loren said...

Jen,

As I read you words all I can do is pray that the Lord could provide all you need. I will be honest I read your post, offered a prayer and left heavy with you on my heart and NOT leaving a comment BUT lifting you up to the Lord. As I went on reading others posts I came to a blog I have never read before and was led to this song by Selah. I clicked on the link and heard them share their "story" about this song. I felt the Lord say "Go back and comment to Jen, for she is my daughter. She is hurting and needs to know others care but I care more." Here is the link to this song from a blog I have never read before....I believe it is all for YOU Jen. God loves you. HE cares for you. HE can handle your frustration and questions. Continue to seek HIM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TC01HuKZRI

Peggy Arteberry said...

Jen,

You know what I like best about this post? Your honesty. Most people would walk away... but you haven't. As long as you are questioning, you are living. You have a lot of valid questions that I myself have thought about over the years. I wish I had answers for you, but I don't. Seek a relationship with Him alone... for Him... not expecting anything. Do you tithe?

Hugs~

Daniel said...

Jen,

I've never read your blog before, in fact I had never even seen it before. It happened to come up as shared in Google Reader by someone I follow there.

I'm not going to assume that it was God who directed me to read one of these shared posts for the very first time. I'm also not going to say it wasn't.

Whatever the reason for my reading this, I can certainly relate to a lot of what you've said. My relationship with the Lord has always been strictly cerebral, so I have never really "felt" His presence or seen things happen that I knew were His doing. I never feel like there is anyone on the other end when I pray. Nor is there some sort of supernatural wisdom that comes on me no matter how much I pray.

There are doubts all the time, and many, many questions that still remain unanswered. Like you said, there are so many promises in the scriptures that don't seem to be fulfilled.

With all that, however, my faith remains strong. Mostly because my faith is not based on those things. That's not where my faith is grounded. For me, it's grounded in the resurrection. When all the doubts start creeping in and I start to wonder if this Christian thing is even real, I go back to the resurrection.

With all the studies I’ve done with regards to the resurrection, I feel very confident that what we have in the Bible today is an accurate account of what the apostles wrote back then. And I have found sufficient evidence that what they wrote was based on what they actually saw...the risen Christ.

Whatever else I end up doubting, I know that this much is true. Jesus rose from the dead, according to the scriptures, and anything else I doubt, I re-visit with that truth in mind.It doesn't always bring understanding. I still have many questions that are unanswered.

When it comes to the promises and why good people seem to suffer while bad people thrive...that's not always the case. I think you probably know some good people who have been blessed and some bad people who have gotten justice.

You mention Bible promises and whether or not those are for us and referred to Jeremiah 29:11. To be honest, this actually is one of the promises that I don't believe is for us. If you read the entire context, this is specifically promised to the exiled Israelites.

When looking at God's promises, many times, people try to claim promises, like the Jeremiah 29:11 passage, for themselves when that promise wasn't for them. Some promises are for all believers and others are for specific people at specific places , times or circumstances.

For those "global" promises, at the risk of giving God an "out" as you say, I would like to point out the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus seems to be indicating that there are, in fact, some people who will go through a great deal of suffering in this life and may not see a reward until they pass on to the next stage. I believe that Jesus told this story so that people would not always look to Job for examples of suffering, because Job was rewarded in this life.
The first person I thought of who I think may be able to help is Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. He has a call-in radio show every Sunday. Even if you're not the type to call in to shows like that, I encourage you to do so. He is one of the most careful thinkers I have ever heard/read and he can probably help walk you through some of the issues you're struggling with.

If all else fails, I'm willing to do whatever I can to help you find answers to your questions, as well.

Keep struggling. Keep fighting. The answers are out there (at the risk of making a blatant X-Files reference).

Grace, love and peace.

Warren Baldwin said...

Hi. I linked here from Kelly's Ideas. This is my first visit. And a rich one!

I can't answer a lot of your questions. I think you have a right to be frustrated, hurt and angry. I sure would be.

I told a friend today that we Christians need to admit what the world has know for years - that the church is a hard place to work and function. I've never been hurt by those outside the church like I have by those in it.

But I'm still in the church. Why? I wonder sometimes myself. I think there are two reasons.

One, where else would I go? Even with some of the angry, mean-spirited people, there are still those others - those who believe and are hanging on by a thread and who encourage me and need me to encourage them. There are also words of hope. Even if they don't always seem to land on me (and I'm one who speaks them!), they still remind me that they are there.

Two, I think of the battle b/n heaven and the forces of evil. Good vs. bad. We are right in the middle of that battle. In fact, we are the frontline troops in the battle against evil. And sometimes we are casualties of it. Sometimes soldiers of evil get to us, and sometimes we are shot in the back by our own side - so-called friendly fire.

This second thought is a painful one, but it does sustain me in the midst of the battle.

Keep searching, keep crying out, keep demanding answers. You've earned the right.

WB

Still Learning said...

Thank you so much everyone for your kind and helpful words. I thoguht for sure I'd take a good licking for writing it but this blog has always been about honesty so I went with it.

Loren, I just had the chance to watch the link and it was really helpful. It made me cry, ha ha. In a good way though. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I really appreciate you caring.

I greatly appreciate the encouragement!! It means so much because I sure do need it.

Love you all,

Jenn