I apologise for all the religiously charged posts in a row; I usually try to refrain from that. But things are in my head, and funnily, blogging is the best way these days to get my thoughts out. (Why blogging and not journaling? Could it be the knowledge that other people will read it and judge it and therefore it better be substantial? I think maybe.)
**By the way, side note: I think we've lost the battle with the cats and the Christmas tree. I think they've won. We just can't keep them out of it. **
Ok, back to my original plan for this entry.
I have to speak tomorrow night at the Port. Two things about this freak me out:
1. I haven't been back to the Port since my embarrassing "Bradley is coming to town! Oh wait, nevermind, no he's not. Sorry for getting your hopes up, I'm a moron." experience, and I haven't felt comfortable around the Port people in months.
2. I hate speaking.
I was asked to "testify", and I accepted. Not because I thought, "Oh, great, I love to share what God has done in my life!" but because I believe the Holy Spirit uses stuff like this to teach and stretch us, and also to bring others to Him. When Rhoda said, "You've been on my mind for weeks as someone to speak at the Port," I couldn't very well say no. After all, if God put me on Rhoda's mind, would I not be in the wrong to refuse? Maybe not, but since I'll never speak on my own accord, I will do so if someone else asks.
Now, I've "testified" before, telling how I became a Christian and whatnot. And that story is precious to me still. But it's not ALL God has done for me. In fact, it was just the beginning of a lifetime of millions of blessing from my Father. So, I've decided for once I'd like to talk about why I STAY a Christian, and not just how I BECAME one.
Still, what the crap do I say? Hence this post. A chance for me to flesh out the answer to that question.
Why do I stay a Christian?
Number one reason: God keeps me one. He has promised us in His Word that He who began a good work in us, shall perform it until the day of completion. (Phil 1:6) He saved me, and that's a life long thing.
Many times I've wanted to give up. But I haven't. Why? Because I'm such an awesome, strong-willed woman? Aye right! I'm the flightiest, ficklest girl ever. I stay because He keeps me.
What if He didn't keep you? Would you still be a Christian?
After just a second of thought on this, I knew the answer was still yes. And not because I want to go to heaven (which I do). I would stay because I believe Him. I really, with all my heart, believe Him! I believe in Jesus, I believe in what he has said to me through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit. Something deeper inside me than all the doubt (and boy, do I have my doubts!) believes. Is it a crutch? Some may think so. Maybe it is. But I believe it nonetheless. It's just too true.
How do you know it's true?
Firstly, I know it's true because I believe the Bible. Ooh, many would call that a BIG crutch! But it's a bit more circular than that (the old philosophical conundrum). I believe the Bible because I've experienced what it says in my life. The Word of God has never let me down. It is thorough, it is complete. And God Himself has never let me down. Sometimes I've thought He had, but I was only being impatient. Never once in my life has the Lord God let me down. Bad things have happened - but I got through them all. I live with some pain, but I am still living. I know it's true, because I've seen that it is true. And the Bible backs me up. But I believe the Bible first over what I've experienced. Life will surely throw a lot more difficulties at me, more painful and seemingly impossible than I've ever experienced before. I will live through it by faith in the Word, and when it's over, I'll believe in God more because of what I experienced.
Do you have any examples of this?
Hmm... well, first of all, I can think of nothing I have been through that now seems worthy of example. In the moment of all those moments, I simply could NOT believe God was faithful or even real. But looking back, they were such silly moments! And I've grown through them. And to tell them now would seem silly. A few of the most recent things that have happened to our family would be inappropriate to tell in front of a crowd at this point in time, and beyond these recent painful experiences, I can't think of anything really, really ... didactic.
So if you haven't been through anything really horrible (that you can talk about) how do you know, or how will you convince others, that God really is faithful?
Good question (thanks, self). The answer isn't very easy. All I can say now to that is, God only gives us what we can handle. He never gives us more than we can handle. He says this about temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. But I think it must refer to all things because in all things there is a temptation to disbelieve God. God is building me up in Him. He is making me stronger. He gives me little bits at a time. What I've been through (as a relatively young Christian) may seem insignificant to people who have been through the loss of family members, hurricanes, fires, AIDS, whatever it may be, but to me, the things I've been through were hard. And learning to have faith through the seemingly small things is teaching me to have faith in the bigger things. What's happened to our family this year have been the hardest, most faith-trying things I've ever experienced. And God is teaching me to have faith in Him even through all of that.
If you want an example, think of this generic story - Your pet dies. Family pet. Been in the family since before you were born. Your are heart-broken! You cry, you feel so sad. This is a really hard time for you. Then you hear that your friend's mother has passed away. You can quickly see the difference in heartache that the two of you are feeling. An outsider might call you selfish for being so sad over the loss of your pet in the face of this much greater tragedy. But does that mean your grief is not important or valid? Does that mean you have no right to grieve? Not at all. For each one of our pains are painful to us, even when others' are experiencing even greater pain. It is good to always keep our lives in perspective in those kind of situations, but it does not mean we lose our validity in feeling the different levels of pain. Just as a stumped toe hurts like hell but is nothing compared to child birth. It's still genuine.
I think I'll leave it at that for now. It's given me a bit to think about. I have not in any way come up with what I want to say tomorrow night, but at least this gives me a jumping board. Why am I still a Christian? It's something to contemplate.
One other thing I'd like to mention before I forget. At work, a lady and I were talking about my beliefs and she basically asked why I believe them. At the place in my life I am in right now, it was a nearly impossible question. But the Lord gave me my answer. I thought quickly, "What is the bottom line? What are the bare bones of why I believe?" I told her this:
I believe that Jesus is the only answer because it just makes sense. None of us will ever be good enough. We may be pretty good, but we will never be good enough. One sin, that's us screwed. In comparison to a perfect God, we are so far from perfect, we could never with any amount of trying be good enough. So we have to have something else to be good for us. Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life and then took our punishment of death. We all deserve death because we are so far from being good enough to merit life. So through Jesus, we inherit the right to live. It's the only belief system that makes sense, once we've admitted the fact that we are incapable of ever being good enough.
That's a big reason why I am still a Christian.