I grew up going to church. Every Sunday, Mom woke me and my brother up, got us all dressed up in our "church clothes," and took us to Sunday School and the 11am worship service. As I got older, I became involved in youth choir, youth bells, and adult bells. I started teaching the Pre-K Sunday School class in high school, and spent every summer going to choir camp, mission trips, choir trip, and VBS. I did everything!
And yet, something was still missing. And I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I'm a good person! I thought, I do well in school, I respect my parents, I make good decisions. Why is that not enough? I had come to believe that faith in God meant doing good works and being a good person. So, when doing one good thing didn't help me feel any closer to Him, I did more, volunteered more, helped out more. Surely that would bring me some sort of enlightening experience with this omnipresent being who was somehow involved in my creation.
But how would I know if I was experiencing God? Was I supposed to listen for a response to my questions? Would it be an actual voice, or some miraculous sign like the stories talked about in my Christian magazines? What if God came to me in some sort of burning bush, like Moses? (I wasn't sure how I'd handle that sort of experience...)
I wanted more from God, but nothing I did brought about anything like I expected; and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Eventually, in the middle of high school, I gave up on faith-- to an extent. I still did all my activities, followed the morals I'd been taught, and attended church weekly. I simply decided that whatever "more" I was searching for didn't exist. Church and faith were essentially the same: do good, behave well, love people, go to heaven.
If you've ever had similar thoughts, let me be blunt: that is NOT all there is to God. He's so much bigger than doing good deeds. He wants you to know Him. He wants to have a relationship with you. And, even though it might not seem like it, He's been actively seeking you out, searching for you, since the day you were born.
In the next few blog posts, I'm going to go over a couple of ways that I learned to open my heart up to listen and search for the Lord; namely prayer, Scripture reading, and discipleship. For now, I'd love to hear your stories. What have you experienced from Church? Have you ever gotten tired of the whole faith thing? Does my story spark any questions? Let me know!