I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection lately. It kind of goes along with the territory of ceasing to depend on things outside myself for my own self worth. It’s been a hard process to go through, and I’m struggling in every single step.
I figured that the best place for me would be to open up my bible. I woke up with a start from a dream very early this morning. I can’t remember the dream, but I felt God telling me that I was supposed to get up.
I can’t explain why God talks to me. I don’t feel I’ve done anything extraordinary in being faithful to Him. But it seems like whenever I welcome Him in, He arrives full force. We have full on conversations, God and I.
Anyway, I obediently got up, dusted off my bible, and went in the front room to read. With a great cup of coffee, I settled into the comfy chair. Where to start? I thumbed through it, taking out the millions of leaflets from my days of church, reading this passage and that which I had taken notes on. And I finally decided to follow a friend of mine and start in Romans.
I like Romans. It’s straight forward and tells it like it is. There’s no beating around the bush. My favorite verses are in Romans, Romans 14. So I started here. I began with Romans 1. Then I read through Romans 2. But something was clicking in Romans 2. I kept stopping myself and rereading passages. And I realized that I needed to start journaling to go along with reading, so I got out my notebook and wrote down this verse:
“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?”
I have been guilty of finding passages and using them to my power, to strengthen my fight against fundamentalism. I have pointed fingers, judging those I felt were judging others. And then in all this, in my fight to be right and against all that I felt unjust in religion, I stopped seeking God. And even worse, I made myself believe I was still just as faith seeking as ever. In reality, I was self-seeking, and self-serving. I was no longer a disciple of God. I no longer sought to strengthen my faith and overcome my shortcomings. The only studying I did of the bible was to find passages to prove what I thought was right.
In all this, though I thought I was close to God, I actually stepped farther away from my faith than I ever had before, and began questioning the very things I used to be sure of. I ignored all the warning signs, negatively focusing on everything I felt was wrong, and missing all in my faith that is right. And I find myself in a scary spot, rebuilding my foundation in God.
The last line of those selected verses is where the hope lies. God’s kindness will lead me to repentance. You see, we are never truly apart from God. He is always with us. And He always WANTS us. And when we accept that, He is always there with open arms, ready to forgive. God does not hold grudges, no matter how many times we fail Him. And I have failed Him. If I truly want the world to believe the truth that I feel, it is my walk that will speak the loudest. And right now, my walk is pretty weak and without substance.
Now is the process of restoring my faith from small to overwhelming. I am trying to relearn how to be close to God, wanting the same things He wants for my life. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s pretty painful. But I am willing to go through the necessary steps to get back to God, seeking His guidance in living for His glory, and not my own.