Ok, God. I admit it. Sometimes it’s not very obvious why we need you. Back when you were introduced in the Bible (THOUSANDS of years ago), people were dying from plague, war, or even just the elements on a daily basis. No one lived for very long. Things were legitimately scary. People NEEDED you or the IDEA of you just so they could get by one day to the next.
But God, in 2015, we have everything we need and even more of what we want. We have laws. We have government. We have order. We have refrigerators to keep food from going bad and killing us. We have indoor plumbing. We live in a time where scientists can grow human ears on a mouse’s backs! We know more about our universe than ever before. I know that if I exercise and eat right, I’ll probably live a good, long life.
No offense God, but religion is kind of old-fashioned. I mean, I guess there might be something bigger than us out there. I don’t really know…but to go saying, “God, I am going to try every day to put You first in my thoughts, words and heart…” It’s just kind of a stretch and more than a little cheesy. And even if I were thinking that, there’s no way I’m going to go talking about it! People would think I’ve turned into a total holy-roller! That’s just not me, God. Sorry. I’ll see you on Sunday. Maybe.
I am ashamed to admit, this is probably how my “faith” sounded up until a few years ago. It was not very strong. I rarely said any kind of prayer. If we went to church, I wasn’t getting anything out of it. I thought I was very in control of my life, but then I was very worried all the time. I felt alone even though I had friends and a loving family. I wasn’t depressed, but life just seemed hollow.
A friend of mine helped me to get back into praying. She said it was working miracles in her own life. It’s been a very gradual process for me. And I still find I get a little embarrassed when I am talking about my faith in God with almost anyone else. It’s not something that I feel like I can discuss with everyone. When I try, I see people uncomfortably divert their gaze or try subtly to change the subject. Faith is so personal and it’s not that people don’t have it. It’s just that we shy away from using words like “God,” “Jesus,” “Grace,” “Faith,” and even “Love” in certain contexts of our everyday vocabulary. But more often, I find I am asking myself, “Why? Why is it embarrassing to say, ‘I’m praying for you,’ or ‘God bless you,’ or ‘Thank God!’ and really mean it?”
But I’m taking the plunge today. I finally had some time to sit down and reflect on this and I want to share something important that I think we’ve all forgotten at one time or another.
I feel truly shaken to the core by some things that have happened very close to home in the past week. I am seeing how absent God is from our lives and is being replaced by other things. It seems now more than ever, substance abuse is so common. It seems that people feel a void and a desire to fill it. So they turn to pills or alcohol which alter their physical state of being. But when that wears off, where does that leave them? Empty again.
I know there are people who have lost God in their lives so profoundly that they can’t see the point in going on living every day. They think that taking their lives will make the world somehow better, not realizing how they are cheating the world out of knowing a beautiful soul. There are people who have experienced deep loss and sadness and can’t find their way out because there is no light to guide them. They become depressed and despondent. They wonder, “If there is a God, why would he do this to me?” Grief consumes them and they feel ending it all is the only way out.
We all have a journey and it is filled with choices, temptation, wrong turns and obstacles. We are going to suffer because there is evil in the world. It is an unfortunate part of the journey. But there can’t be darkness without light. It is our job to use God’s light to win. Our love has to help the Good (God) defeat the Bad (evil). Luke has been really into Star Wars lately and I see so many metaphors when we read his little books about the Jedi using the Force and the Emperor being on the Dark Side. It all does sound a little Sci-Fi doesn’t it? But the Bible was written long before the Star Wars series and there are some very real concepts there.
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. We don’t have to earn his acceptance or love. As my friend Jenny, reminded me recently, Moses killed a man. Jesus’s best friends, the disciples, doubted him. God sent his word through people who had committed some awful sins and He loved them still. There isn’t some arbitrary point system or some scale weighing our good deeds against our sins. We don’t have to earn God’s love. We have it any time we’re willing to accept it. That’s what GRACE is; it’s God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. We don’t deserve it but we have it. It’s the same kind of love we have for our children. They could spill grape juice all over the carpet, shave the dog and then set the house on fire all in the same day and guess what? We’re going to be angry, but chances are, we will still love them.
God’s love is like that but only deeper. The only way we can get through this life is by the grace of God. That’s what that means. I never understood it until Jenny spelled it out for me with that kids analogy. Our love of our children is a glimpse at the kind of love God has for us. And we know how powerfully we love our kids, don’t we?
So maybe we don’t need God for the same reasons that we used to. We’re not in danger of freezing to death from insufficient housing or starving due to famine. Our world isn’t filled with same perils that it was centuries ago, but I could make a pretty compelling argument that I think we’re in more danger now than we were before. The loss of spirituality is nothing to take lightly. It is just as deadly as starvation or hypothermia.
I finally feel a little more comfortable being vocal about my faith. If it maybe inspires someone else to examine the substance of their own life, I feel I have accomplished something important. And I would love to learn more from anyone willing to share their story. If someone criticizes me for sharing my thoughts, that’s okay too. I know not everyone is ready to embrace their faith and maybe they will never be. It doesn’t make them bad people.
Talking about God isn’t very “cool” to most people. When I started my blog, I felt very strongly that I didn’t want it to be “preachy” about faith or spiritually. I never intended for my blog to become a religious forum. I wanted to make sure it would appeal to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs or even complete absence of them. But the truth is that my faith is a part of who I am. And I feel that in these times, even if one person reads this and gets something out of it, I’ve done something positive by speaking up.