Sometimes I have something that I want to blog about, but I don't quite know how to say it. So, usually I think about it, pray about it, google it for a few days and then it all sort of comes together into something that I can post. The idea I've had in my head this week hasn't really done that. As such, I decided to start typing and see if I can get it to flow. Hope that's ok. I'll be honest. Most of the time these blogs are more for me than anyone else. Its nice to go back to my blog on a down day and read back over the things God's been teaching me. Sometimes it makes it easier to know where you're going if you can see where you've been. I don't even know if anyone else actually reads my blog. Either way, I'm gonna keep writing. Ok, back to what I've been thinking about this week.
This all started last Saturday. Normally I attend the Saturday afternoon service at Elevation Blakney. Well, last weekend I was off work, so I decided to go to a Sunday morning service. Saturday night I went out to dinner with good friends and watched a little football. I had fun, but the whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't where I was supposed to be. I really missed that time with God. I mean I knew I'd get it the next morning, but it still made me feel a little off so to speak. I thought about that for a few days. I didn't even realize how much I looked forward to going to church to spend time in worship. So then I started trying to remember having that feeling in the past. I LOVED going to church when I was a kid, but it was a much different feeling. The more I started thinking about it, I realized that I used to look forward to going to see people. I was friends with the other kids in my youth group. I wasn't the most athletic or best looking kid, so I was never very popular in school. But boy did I know lots of Bible verses. I was friendly to everyone. I was one of the popular kids. THAT is why I liked going to church. But now? I know people at Elevation. But in a church that averages close to 8,000 people across four campuses each weekend, how many of those acquaintances do you run into? I realized that I was actually looking forward to singing, praying, tithing, writing down notes from a sermon, finding out the next thing God wants me to know. Since that little revelation from God, I've been POURING over old memories from my church going days as a kid.
Please don't think I'm about to bash on the church I grew up in or the people who taught me about Christianity as a kid. Thats not my intention at all. The faults of my past are just as much mine as anyone's. Somehow I really just missed what being a Christian is all about until a few months ago. I wanted to be a Christian. [And I know that God knows I wanted to love him. I honestly didn't know the right way to do it though. I'm glad He knows my heart even when my actions don't match up.] I wanted God's blessings and love. I wanted to serve him. I wanted to love people like Christ did. But for some reason I just never quite felt the thing I saw some other Christians expressing in their worship and in their lives. When I was in high school I thought that the way to be a Christian was to not drink, not cuss, not use drugs, not have sex. Thats pretty much all anyone ever said to me. I avoided that stuff, but I wasn't ever really all that happy. I still didn't love God or people like I wanted to. Well, then I graduated and moved out on my own. I experimented with some of that stuff, thinking that maybe then I would be happier. Well, things got worse. The drinking didn't make any difference. The boyfriend didn't make me feel complete. Well, eventually (within the last 6 months or so) I decided that turning back to Jesus was the thing to do... but I didn't want to do it the way everyone around me did church as a kid. I knew that it didn't work.
The more I think about it the more I realize that the reason I couldn't make it work when I was a kid is that I was trying to fit into the Christian mold. Ok, sure lots of people get up really early and read their Bible and pray in the morning... after all, in youth group thats what they told us good christians did. Good Christians listen to 91.9 (our local contemporary Christian station) because thats the only holy music. There are countless other things I could name, but you get the point... This stuff doesn't work for me. I HATE getting up early. I want to listen to The Beatles. And to be honest I don't have the self-discipline to avoid sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll just because all the preachers I knew when I was a kid told me I was supposed to. I just don't. That's not me. And I was turned off by Christianity when I was a young adult because people told me all this stuff about me was bad.
This time around though, I found Christianity for myself instead of listening to what other people told me. I don't like to get up early. So I don't. I go to church on Saturday night. I read my Bible and pray at lunch time. I don't like having to tote a big bible around all the time. So I don't. I pull up a bible app on my blackberry whenever I want to read. I don't like wearing dresses or high heels. So I don't. I wear converse and a hoodie to church. I listen to secular music. I watch TV. And I look for God in all that everyday stuff... because he's there. He speaks to me all the time through stuff that isn't labeled Christian. And all that other stuff... sex, drugs, alcohol. Yeah, I avoid it. But this time I know that avoiding it won't make me a Christian. I know that I'm a Christian because I love God more than anything else and I want to please him. I avoid sin because I love God more than I love my own pleasure. I love making him happy. I know that sin disgusts him, and when you love someone, you never want them to feel that way.
Most importantly, I know that I can't love God or people enough on my own. Its seems weird to ask God to help me love him. But the fact of the matter is I need him. And if I need him to help me love him in all his perfection, then I sure need him to help me love fault-filled human beings... including myself. Its a CRAZY cycle. The more I pray and ask God to help me love him, the more I love him... which causes me to want to pray and ask for his help and read his word and worship him more... I just can't believe it took me until now to figure this out. I wish someone had clued me into this so long ago... its what I was missing that makes being a Christian work like its supposed to. I grew up thinking that the only thing I could do was love God. And that the way I proved that I loved him was by not sinning (especially those "big" sins)... but I was wrong. I can't even do that. I need him for EVERYTHING, even loving him. Then, I have to stop thinking this way, relying on God, in order to engage in those intentional, "big" sins. I'm no longer having to stop and wonder if I'm doing it right, a thought that CONSUMED me as a young person. Now I am freed up to love and worship and give and serve without guilt or worry or fear. I mean yeah, I fall down still... a lot, but I know that it doesn't mean I don't love God (which I thought when I was a kid). It means I have something else to rely on him for... it means he's going to save me from something else, and I'll get to experience his love and power in a fresh, new way. And that is a goooood feeling.
This seems like a lot of rambling to me... but I'm posting it anyway. I'd love to hear your thoughts.