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.