BY STEVEN GREENE
Seven months ago, I did not believe in God.
While I wish that I could continue to write about how I had this triumphant death-to-life experience recently, it would be dishonest.
I grew up in the church. My grandparents are believers, my parents are believers, my sister is a believer, I was baptized at the age of 11 and have believed in God ever since. I’ve been involved in ministry, been a part of two separate church staffs, attended small groups and home groups, and I volunteer every Sunday.
I filled my schedule to the brim with “churchy” things. I felt that if I immersed my schedule with Christian community, time reading the bible, and prayer that I would have constant contact with God.
I was wrong.
I am not by any means trying to state that those actions are not necessary; I believe they are. However, I was missing a few major points in my walk with Christ.
First, I felt like God owed me instant communication. If I were to take all the correct steps and actions that we are commanded to take, then God is required to inspire me with His callings, right? We like to imagine Jesus as a man who would touch people and they would be healed instantly, yet there were times when Jesus did not perform instant miracles. Jesus was traveling one day when lepers asked Him to heal them. Jesus told them to go to the priest for healing and once they did that they were healed. God does not work within your time schedule.
Secondly, I thought that I could crack the code and fully understand God. I had thought that I had the whole Christian thing figured out. When I started to understand that I didn’t fully understand God, I started to feel anger. God is so much bigger than our comprehension.
I was in a place where I was afraid. I was afraid to tell my family, community - even my closest friends. I was ashamed. I thought that I was dysfunctional. I was jealous of others’ ability to seem like they were always drawing nearer and nearer to God. I was mad at how I was doing everything by the book, yet I wasn’t feeling God.
I finally decided I was done. I was finishing out the semester before summer break knowing that I was going to study abroad that summer in a foreign place away from internet, church, and community. I figured that people would forget about me. I figured I would be able to explore a life without Christ and no one would even notice. However, for some reason, I decided to pack a Bible with me, possibly out of habit or, most likely, because God wanted me to take that Bible.
Out of some divine inspiration or calling, I decided to approach the Bible in a way that I had never read it before. Out of anger towards God I wanted to read to find fallacies. I wanted to prove something to myself.
Studying God’s character as harshly as I had just taught me that God is so much bigger than I had ever thought. For so long, I viewed God as a feel-good sensation whenever convenient. I started to understand that the creation of God was all around me and how He communicates is all around us, we just need to look for it. Psalm 19:1 says, “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands, day after day they pour forth speech ... ”
God can communicate to you any way He sees fit. Every person’s relationship with God is different. Please, pursue authentic community. Do your devotions. Pray. But do not be afraid to think outside of the box. Explore God and His creation. If you feel like you are stuck in a mold do not be afraid to break out of it.
For those who are in a similar situation as I was, I would like you to know that you are not alone. If you are annoyed, frustrated, or straight up pissed off at God, I want you to know that you are not wrong or dirty. I know the pain that you are feeling. Doubt is a part of our walk with Jesus, but many people do not open up about it. Please, do not be afraid to confide in believers around you that care for you. I decided to take the most difficult route. I wish I would have had the courage to talk to someone. That pain is a lot to bear alone.
God works in unimaginable, incomprehensible ways. I stopped trying use God and started enjoying the little bit of Him that I could understand. It doesn’t hurt to go back to the basics and understand what you really believe.
If you connected with this story and want to speak with someone about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.