Where I Am At
I don't read a lot of fiction because I find most of it substandard. But I make an exception for Frank Perretti. Below is the autobiographical introduction to his novel, The Visitation. Aside from the obvious fact that I have never been in a charismatic church and have never aspired to full time ministry, he says what I have been feeling/thinking lately.
"I never thought I'd get sick of being a Christian. I was practically born a Christian, raised in a Christian home, nurtured in church and Sunday School. If there was anything going on at church -- special meetings, singspirations, Bible studies, vacation Bible School-- I was there. I read my Bible every day, prayed regularly, witnessed to others whenever I could, and knew all the hymns by heart. I was a youth pastor, an associate pastor, a teacher, a preacher, a public speaker. I was on the right road, had plenty of approval, and no plans to change course.
But no one to ld me I was still growing up and that the time would come when all the familiar trappings of the Christianity that I grew up with would no longer be comfortable. Like a child growing out of his clothes, I was having trouble getting things to fit -- except for one T-shirt that said, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT.
No, I wasn't backsliding. Satan wasn't tempting me. I wasn't even disillusioned -- well, not with God. Call it growing pains. I was beginning to feel the difference between religion and relationship. The more I longed to know God, the more fed up I got with all the Christian "stuff". Where was God really? Would I really find Him in all the religious trappings, my particular Christian culture that told me by word and example what a Christian ought to look like, act like, believe, and do? For most of my life I'd wrapped that world around me like a security blanket; I felt safe, like a child at home with loving parents.
But kids like us grow up and need our own relationship with God, forged in the heart through time and experience, not draped around us by the church we attend. We need to know God for ourselves, not secondhand.
Coming to that realization, that point of growth, can be a lonely time. You just feel so tired of everything: No, I didn't have my "quiet time" this morning, so arrest me. If I have to sing that chorus one more time I'll scream. Maybe I'll stay home from church this time just for some peace and quiet.
And you don't buy everything so readily. Maybe that was a prophecy to you, but to me it was bad acting. How do I know that God really said that to Pastor? I didn't hear anything. Are we really going to vanish in the twinkling of an eye?
And everyone has a cure for what ails you: You need to read your Bible and pray more. You need to come back to the Lord. These are the lies of the Enemy; speak in tongues and they'll go away.
Well, don't worry. I made it through. Jesus walked with me through every moment, and I could see Him so much more clearly on the other side. I have a wonderful church family, I like singing the choruses, and I still read my Bible and pray every day. But things look different now. My faith is my own, I like where the Lord has brought me, and I won't be going back."
I won't be going back.