A lot of people describe their salvation stories like they just accepted Jesus way back in Kindergarten and that was it. No questions. No doubts. No struggle. They just happily rode off into the sunset with Jesus after VBS on some magical unicorn of Holiness. This has, at times, left me feeling insecure and really weird for my story not being this way.
Mine is not an instantaneous story of salvation. I had many moments of things "clicking" with me, only to be pulled back into darkness. It was a near constant battle between dark and light. Tumultuous. Dramatic. Exhausting. A lot of push and pull.
Here's the thing, though. I always knew I was lost. I always knew there was something missing. And I almost always went to church. But it was a long time before I really started to connect the dots. Most of my life, I have struggled with God even though I wanted to love Him with all my heart and strength. I think my head told me the process on how to be a Christian long before my heart ever caught up with how to live as one.
I hid from Him a long time, not unlike Adam and Eve in in Genesis. Scared. Ashamed. Chock full of guilt. Alone.
Like so many others, the lie of the serpent kept me hiding. The serpent is a skilled deceiver. He is a master of his craft.
Notice in Genesis 3:1 that the serpent never just flat commanded Eve to eat the fruit. He doesn't say "C'mon. Just eat the fruit." He actually says: "Did God really say…" which got Eve thinking about the benefits of eating the fruit, which made her act all on her own.
Can I just tell you how many moments of "Did God really say?" I have had in my time here on Earth? Actually, I can't… because there have been too many to count. However, I can share the most repetitive one with you: "Did God really say that He loves you?" That serpent, he plays a good game, y'all. He worked well with the circumstances of my life to pull me back into his darkness. I had been surrounded by chaos and turmoil most of my life, so that was an easy one for me to believe.
That wedge put between me and God remained for a long time. It overpowered me, after I accepted Jesus, even. Sometimes it still can. Adam and Eve literally walked through the garden in the presence of God and the serpent was STILL able to put a wedge in that relationship.
On our own, we are powerless to overcome that deception. I tried. My word did I try. I signed up to bring food, I went to church, I volunteered all the time, I read the books, I read the blogs, but still…. That nagging voice in my head would say "Did God really say He loves you?" And because I left God out of it, it was just me in a battle for light and dark, I would always lose. I will always lose on my own strength because this issue isn't fixable without divine intervention.
We can't look through a newspaper or even a Twitter feed without experiencing the brokenness of this world. There is pain. There is deceit. There is abuse. There is sorrow. There is violence. The towers fell in New York. Boston was bombed. A piece of a Charleston congregation was slaughtered. Paris was attacked. The Middle East is in a constant state of war. Sometimes, it feels like the sky is falling and everything is coming apart at the seams. This world is on fire. Our world is so broken. It's been this broken since the beginning--it has only had but few moments of absolute peace. This divide is a war that is more powerful than we could ever be. We cannot do this alone. Only Jesus.
Questions to think about:
- What are your "Did God really say…" thoughts?
- How have you tried to overcome them?
- Did it work for you?