Day 3 of a Journey

So today is Sunday and it is the second week that I have not gone to my church service and I feel a sense of peace over that. Is that wrong? I don’t know, but what I do know is that because I do not have to fake it in front of the others that fake it, I don’t have that sense of “guarded-ness.”

I suppose I should review for anyone out there where I have come from and why I am here at this point in my spiritual walk. It all began 50 years ago in a hospital in Buffalo, NY……………ok, maybe not that far back!

I became a Christian in the summer of 1983. My son was 2 and we were expected our second child in November of that year.  A dear friend who had become a Christian earlier and through many conversations patiently shared  Christ, and about the “end times”, I was a huge Hal Lindsey and Nostradamus fan so I was fascinated by the end of world scenarios.  Then one sunny summer morning in August, I knelt next to my bed and asked Jesus to save  me. . When I told her that day she cried.

Initially it felt like I was free and that all my sin and struggles had vanished.  I started to attend a Baptist church down the street, I read my Bible every day, prayed every day, and “witnessed” every chance I had. I told people that if they did not believe in Jesus they were bound for hell, I quoted Scripture ad nauseum to people and couldn’t understand why they did not get it. Perhaps, as I look back, it may have been my wild eyed ranting, rather than the Gospel message that turned them off.

I took up causes, condemning abortion, homosexuality, people living together in fornication, movies, TV, rock music, pop music, country music (that one was easy since I always thought it was from the devil anyway), and all secular forms of entertainment. I sincerely believed that if you did any of those things, either you were a worldly Christian or not a Christian at all.

I protested abortion clinics, wrote editorials for a college newspaper about premartial sex, and stood in front of a movie theater picketing “The Last Temptation of Christ”.  I went out and bought an American flag and proudly displayed it in front of my house because I was learning that to be an American Christian was to be a patriotic American.

Over the ten years that followed I became involved with prayer meetings, Bible studies, teaching kids, vacation Bible school, youth groups, mission trips, teaching adults, praise and worship ministry, preaching, becoming a deacon and any other church activity.  But something was happening to me. I was doing most of these things not because I was crazy in love with God but because I believed that God was angry with me and I had to do these things to appease Him. Yet I never felt that it was enough and as bad as that thought was I began to see that the sins I thought I had conquered were coming back.

I began to fall into a cycle of  depression due to my percieved weak spiritual life leading to works motived by fear and then failure and then beating myself up for not being as good a Christian as all the people at church were. Sadly, I had never told anyone this out of fear of being seen as a carnal Christian and judged unworthy of the ministries I was involved in.

This went on for over ten years and no one knew how black my heart was and how fear and unworthiness consumed me every day. I wore a great mask.

I must stop here, it is getting too long. I will continue with the rest of the story tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Day 3 of a Journey

  1. Mark,

    You are not alone. There are a lot of us looking for a more authentic church. As a pastor it is hard, I cannot simply change the service to what would speak to me. If I had the ability to change the service, it would be one of dialog. Perhaps we would struggle as a church at Bible study with the Scripture–admitting it is hard to reconcile this verse with how I have experienced God or viewed God or admitting it is hard to live out this Scripture. Then the “main service” would be a message capturing and wrestling with what the Bible Study discussed.
    I believe the Church in America is dying because she has not be authentic instead she draws lines in the sand and points fingers of disgust because she is afraid to dialog.

  2. Its not surprising that you became “fearful and depressed” Mark. Christianity is a fear based religion. The fact that most of humanity is going to end up burning in hell for all of eternity is depressing in itself!

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