Thursday, September 18, 2008

Surface Christianity

This one has been niggling at me for a few months now, but I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted it to go. We’ll see if it makes any sense. It is kind of a ramble. When I first started thinking about it, I thought about all the times I said, “I’m praying for you” and then life just got in the way. There were times where I knew that if I didn’t say a prayer right then, I wouldn’t. Not because I wasn’t sincere or concerned, but because I would forget. It just to be easy for me to be absent minded with other people’s troubles. I have discovered that the more focused I get in this area, the more absent minded I get in others. Trust me, Andy is not at all pleased that I have lost a key that will cost us around $150 to replace. However, if I can only be diligent in one area of my life, I would much rather be “up on” my prayer life.

The more that I have thought about it, though, the more I have become convinced that “Surface Christianity” means something so much more. Someone sent me an email the other day that said, “Faith is not knowing that God can…Faith is knowing that God WILL” or something to that effect. I respectfully disagree. Faith is knowing that God can and will IF IT IS HIS WILL. Will He always answer prayers. Absolutely. Daniel 9:23 says, "As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given." Will they always be the answer we expect? No. There is a big difference in saying that faith is knowing that God will do something or that faith is knowing that God will always do what is best. Faith is trusting that God’s will for our lives is better than anything that we can ever begin to grasp. Faith is knowing that regardless of the answer, God knows what is best for our lives. Even when we don’t understand. Even when the answer is the most horrible thing that we can ever imagine to have to live through. Even when we don’t want to live through it. The reason that this means so much to me is that as Christians I think that we sometimes deceive ourselves and then are caught completely unawares. I am going to use myself as the example.

I went to church all the time. Every Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Wednesday (sometimes) and Thursday night, you could find me at FBC Woodlawn in Woodlawn Tenn. Not because I thought that going to church was what made me a Christian…because I WANTED to be there. I loved being where people were worshiping God. And, if you had asked, I would have said that going to church or being a Christian did not mean that “bad” things would not happen to you. I have never believed that being a Christian meant that the rest of your life would be rosy and nothing bad would befall you. But…

Here is where I deceived myself. I believed that if you prayed about something, and you gave it to God and put your faith in Him, it would be taken care of. I STILL believe that. But what it means, for me, has changed. For example, in the Army we move occasionally. (Ha!) I always worry before a move about where we are going and if our house will sell, etc. Then I will pray and truly give it to God, trusting that what happens is His will for our lives. For me, that’s not a hard thing to do. When it comes to my children, however, it is EXTREMELY difficult. Before Ethan’s death, I would pray for their safety, give them over to God and then I guess my belief was that they were safe. God would protect them. What I now know is that God never leaves their side, He is always with them. But sometimes His Will for our lives is not what we would have expected or wanted or even want to accept.

I don’t know if this makes a lick of sense.  I have this Bible verse on my refrigerator. Isaiah 30:15 “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” So I try and rest in the knowledge that God is always with me and trust that He is always in control.

2 comments:

Ginger Jackson said...

It *absolutely* makes sense, and I'm just as guilty as the next of allowing life to get in the way. I have to check my faith on a regular basis, as I have a habit of going to church and laying down my burdens at the foot of the cross the way we're instructed to, just to turn around and dig 'em all back up again on Monday. And I tell myself that it's not because I don't trust God to handle it for me, because I know He can and will handle things better than I ever could. But you're exactly right - like I tell my son - "just because you didn't get the answer you wanted, doesn't mean you didn't get your answer." As a child of God I need to get better about listening to that same advice, instead of trying to handle things myself to avoid the answer God is providing that I might not like so much... : )

~Gin~

Stephen said...

I thought about all the times I said, “I’m praying for you” and then life just got in the way. There were times where I knew that if I didn’t say a prayer right then, I wouldn’t.

I've found the same to be true in my life.