In my little list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I included 12 resolutions; one for each month. Of course I would like to do all of them all the time, but we all know that that’s never going to happen. And so the idea was to dedicate each month to one resolution at a time.
January’s resolution was ‘Draw closer to God’. One of my favourite Bible verses is James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” What an invitation! As I was reading John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart (reading more being another of my resolutions!), I came across this paragraph: “Before the moment of Adam’s greatest trial God provided no step-by-step plan, gave no formula for how he was to handle the whole mess. That was not abandonment; that was the way God honored Adam. You are a man; you don’t need Me to hold you by the hand through this. You have what it takes. What God did offer Adam was friendship. He wasn’t left alone to face life; he walked with God in the cool of the day where they talked about love and marriage and what adventures were to come. This is what God is offering us as well.”
Many people may be able to relate to my disappointment in the church. The lack of deep connection that goes beyond the four walls of the church building on a Sunday morning, for whatever reason, has driven many people away. And in recent years, I have come to realise that I had certain failed expectations that I projected onto God. As a result, my battle has been not only with trying to understand the human make-up of Jesus’ church, but also the definitions of the church on a divine level. Who is God? It makes all the difference when my beliefs on worship and on how to approach God in an appropriate manner are shattered and I have no idea how to rebuild a healthy concept of ‘God’.
Nonetheless, my faith is still there. I buried it for a while, though I did not deny it. I knew the time would come when I had to dig it out again, expose it to the world and let that light shine like I was destined to all along. Which is where January’s resolution came into play. When you don’t know who the God is you are meant to be friends with, praying can be hard. So this month has been dedicated to trying. Seeking the connection I thought I once had, and trying to figure out if that is indeed what it is meant to feel like, and if it is meant to feel like anything at all. Reading more of the Bible, getting to know my Creator again. Turning once again to this hurting world to find God’s healing work and inspiring revelation.
As the days have gone by, and some have remained empty of prayer or Bible reading, I have experienced small but progressive steps of healing. And perhaps the greatest thing I am learning is that our God is too great to be comprehendible. In becoming a friend of Jesus, I am being broken down to understand my own sinful nature and the need for humility. It is hard for me to believe that anyone enjoys a walk as close to God as that they can read His thoughts and live His ways without fault, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8). Ironically, this is perhaps an indication that we need each other to maintain such an understanding of the greatness of God – yet still remain independent in our walk with the Lord. I need a church family, I need the fellowship and the love, for without it, I can never experience God’s love.
And so I am (slowly) drawing closer to God. I sense that He is drawing closer to me. Things are working out in my life. But we cannot rely on things to be ‘good’ or fixed as a result of him drawing closer to us – the Christian life is one that is clearly destined to be filled with suffering and affliction, to a greater or lesser degree (Romans 8:18, 1 Peter 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:12), in fact God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). But, at the end of the day, there is no faith without choice, and no choice without love. As it is written, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).
If you are battling with your faith – in expressing it, or understanding it, know that you are not alone. True faith, with all its questions, can only lead us to want to know more, understand more – and to be nearer to the Mystery that made us, and saved us.