Sit back, relax, this may take a while.

I don’t even know her. Never met her. Probably never will. But her “situation” was on my mind when I woke up early this morning and I couldn’t sleep thinking about her. This young woman is a friend of a dear friend of mine. T had asked us to pray for her and I did. Then I read her blog and it made me sad and frustrated. You see, she is turning her back on God. It’s one thing to have doubts about God, and questions about God, and questions about life. But this young woman is turning away from God in what appears to be anger, and she doesn’t really care.

This young woman is a mother of two. She is thousands of miles from home and family, thousands of miles from her husband who is serving in Iraq. She is dealing with being a single mom, dealing with death that is so common in military units serving in Iraq today, dealing with her loneliness and anger with no one close but her fellow online bloggers. And no matter how supportive or concerned the people who comment are, the problem with the Internet is words can come across as hollow, empty, and cold. And can be misinterpreted.

Appearently, she grew up in a “very religious family,” but I’m not sure what that means sometimes. She said she did all the right things – memorized Bible verses, went to church regularly, even went on church trips to other states (youth mission trips?). She always felt like she had to be a good Christian, all the while thinking she was a bad Christian. If I may, here’s a quote from her blog, used without permission:
Religion . . . God . . . has made me feel wrong, bad, inferior, and lacking all of my life. I could never understand why I didn’t have the zest for God that others apparently had. Prayer never felt natural to me . . . I always remembered the Scripture that says that God hears the prayers of the righteous man, and I’ve never been righteous. I never prayed because I figured I wouldn’t be heard by God. I’m not good enough.

I have spent my life worrying and fretting over and repressing who I am inside because God had me all tied up with feelings of obligation and guilt. Half the things I’d want to do, I wouldn’t do because it wasn’t “right.” The other half I’d do anyways, but then feel like a lousy human being for doing.

Guilt.

That’s what God’s gift to me was . . . he didn’t give me the Holy Spirit or the peace that passes understanding . . . no . . .

He gave me guilt.

And I can’t respond to her. Why? Because the only thing I have are cliches, platitudes and “Christian speak,” all of which she has heard a hundred times. She’s heard the Scriptures so many times that now they are just foolish words to her. But in some ways I can so relate to her. Can’t you? When we grow up and live our lives “doing church,” God’s love seems so far away and irrelevant in our daily life. None of us ever think we are good enough to come to God, and we are right. She says she has never “felt” God or the Holy Spirit, but what does it mean to “feel” Him? Do we base our relationship with God on feelings? We are in such a mindset that God is only on Sunday mornings and only in church, that we find it difficult to find Him anyplace else, much less in our daily lives. There are certain criteria we use to prove we are good Christians, but that is only to prove we are good Christians to other Christians. And it all adds up to guilt feelings and a certain emptyness that we fill in with other things.

Perhaps this young mother of two doesn’t know the love of God because she has never experienced the love of God through other believers. We are so quick to judge, to condemn, to be pious and “religious” that we fail to see what Jesus was talking about when he simply said, “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. AND you are to love others.” Period. How will people know you are His? By your church attendance? Tithing? Scripture memorization? Witnessing? Being filled with the Holy Spirit? Nope. By your LOVE for one another.

We finally get to the point where we are tired of the games, the make-believe, the show, and we either tell God “reveal yourself in a new way” or “to hell with you if you can’t accept me the way I am!”

I cry for this young woman. And the thousands and thousands of people just like her – many of whom are “doing church” today. I pray, that even though she has stepped away from God, that God has not stepped away from her. I pray that God will draw her to Him and she will undertand what it means to have a relationship with Him – to be a Christ follower, not a “Christian.”

And I ask you to pray for her.

There is so much more I want to say, that’s rattling around in my brain, but I need more time to sort it out before I write it down. If I ever do.

It’s time to stop the games and playing “church.” It’s time to learn what it means to know God, and love Him with everything we have and are. And to love others.

His Peace be on you.

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