Sometimes I’m still surprised I’m writing this blog. I always said I’d like to write something, someday. But I hadn’t the foggiest idea what.
‘What on earth would I say?‘ I thought. ‘Where would I find my muse? And why would anyone read my words?’
I marvel at how far I’ve come. Just 1 1/2 years ago, I heard the whisper to “Try this.” There were obstacles. First, I had figure out what exactly a blog was and then how to start one! It was a messy debut, for sure.
But in this short time, much has changed within me. Today, I write freely about subjects that make many people squirm. Faith. God. The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit.
And I have grown more comfortable with the idea that this is His will for me. That I write – about Him – for his glory. And the process is indescribably satisfying. Every day, I grow a little bit more into the person I believe He meant me to be.
If you knew what I used to think – about Him – and especially about His followers, Christians – you’d marvel at the transformation happening in me, too.
Some time ago, I said and thought …
Did Jesus really exist?
Devout believers in Christianity are simple-minded; they cling to illusions and are ignorant of the way the world really works.
Some even seem uneducated. They can’t think through issues clearly.
Christians are bigoted. They don’t practice what they preach.
I clung to these ideas, ignored the teachings of my Christian childhood, and singled out believers who had erred in the most egregious ways as representative of the whole lot.
And yet – I was baffled. Everywhere I looked, Christians persisted in proclaiming the Gospel message. Where did their confidence come from? Especially since there seemed to be so much “evidence” to support my criticisms.
When I remember these old beliefs, I get a dull pain in my gut. It’s almost like I’m hearing Jesus’s words to Saul (renamed ‘Paul’ by the Lord himself), spoken directly to me: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4)
My railings against God and his Son Jesus held me back from opening my heart to Him. But what’s worse is knowing how my thoughts and words must have made Him feel. And we know that He does feel. If He can love, He can be hurt.
Consider the physical pain, the emotional betrayal by friends, and the spiritual separation from the Father that Jesus endured on the cross, and you get the basic idea that we don’t know the first thing about how much He can hurt – and did – for each one of us.
A week ago Sunday we celebrated the resurrection – the COMING BACK TO LIFE – of the real, in-the-flesh, man, Jesus Christ. And when He climbed out of his three-day grave, did he set out to get revenge for all the injustices he’d suffered? Did he say, “Look what you did, you fiends!! After all I’d done for you? Guess what? I’m back. You messed with THE LORD. You’re going to get your comeuppance now.”
Instead, he forgave us. Granted us His peace. Made us spotless before God the Father. And presented us as believers with the incomparable gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to become what we could not be on our own – forgiving, loving, gentle, kind, patient, joyful, faithful, self-controlled individuals.
But that’s the miracle of Grace. It’s given to those who don’t deserve it.
So why is this on my mind today? Because there are millions of Christians all over the world who have been given the Holy Spirit, yet don’t acknowledge it. They celebrated Jesus’s resurrection on Easter morning, but once the feast day was over, they left their faith at the altar. They haven’t embraced Him fully in their hearts, minds, and souls, so they can’t plunge head first into the job that Christ has for His followers. “[Y]ou will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
But there is hope for these dormant Christians. Just like there was hope for me.
When we open ourselves up to Him, when we step off the ledge of disbelief and decide to trust Him, he not only catches us, He makes us bold.
The apostles Peter and John – two men of humble means – experienced this just after Jesus’s return. Standing before the ‘world’ of their day – “the leaders, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem…the high priestly class,” they proclaimed the Truth about Jesus. (Acts 4:5-6)
Observing [their] boldness and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed…Peter and John… said to them in reply, “…It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:13, 19-20)
So how did I come to write about my faith experiences? It was impossible not to.
I had turned my heart in His direction, and He had shared so much of Himself with me, that I wanted only to sing His praises. And still do.
The Lord “enables [His] servants to speak…with all boldness.” (Acts 4:29)
Now, picture a world in which every Christian allows the power of God to be conveyed through his or her abilities – with boldness.
Just imagine that kind of hope and light in this dark place.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” -Saint Catherine of Siena