I have been struggling with doubts recently. Doubts that what I have to say is worth listening to. Doubts that it will impact anyone. I know what Jesus has done for me. I know how He has changed my life, transformed me. I wonder if it’s visible. I wonder if anyone sees and wants what I have found.
I have such a need to share what He’s done. I so want people to want Him. He’s worth wanting, He’s worth pursuing. He is soooo worth it.
I think about all the years I wasted trying to find my own way, trying to do it on my own, and the giant mess I made of things. I can get bogged down in regret for those wasted years. I look at what I have now, and I can’t help but wonder what took me so long? Why did I wait? Why did I push Him away? Oh what He has given me is so precious, so real. So much more real than anything I’ve ever had.
I’ve written before about substitutes, and I have had so many in my life. I thought I was satisfied. I thought I had what I wanted. I tried to convince myself of that, in any case. I was doing just fine, thank you.
I got out of church in 2011 or 2012. It was almost a relief, to be honest. My life had already taken a sharp turn away from God, and going to church was painful and, I felt, pointless. I remember a particular time when I had participated in an extremely sinful activity on a Saturday night, then got up and went to church the next morning, even taught Sunday School. On the way to the restaurant for lunch I asked my husband at the time, why bother? Why do we bother to go to church if we’re going to do what we did Saturday night?
Why bother with any of this? I am an “all or nothing” kind of person and it just didn’t make sense to me to dabble in sin and yet still go to church. What was the point of that?
It wasn’t long after that, maybe 6 months to a year, that we quit church completely. Oh we had all kinds of excuses, all kinds of reasons – we weren’t supported at church, we weren’t able to do the programs, the activities that we wanted to. It was a big crock of bull. We just didn’t want to go because the life we were living was the antithesis of true Life in Christ. We just didn’t want to admit it.
I think I was more ready to admit that than he was at the time. Again, I’m an all-or-nothing person. I knew in my heart that what we were doing was wrong, sinful, and I knew from my early childhood training that God couldn’t abide sin. Therefore, if I was going to continue in this way of life, I might as well stop going to church.
And isn’t that how Satan gets us? One of the ways, anyway. Whispering in your ear, “why bother? You know you’re not good enough to go, might as well stop going.” So I did. I stopped. Just stopped everything. Stopped listening, stopped acknowledging God. Just turned my back on Him completely.
And I went on about my life. Being honest, I can say there were some really good times. We humans are capable of enjoying life without Christ. There’s a lot of people out there who show that. And I think that’s where I’ve gotten stuck recently. I can say, look at my life, look at what He’s done for me, but if you’re doing just fine on your own, what would make you want to have what I’ve got?
That question has been going round and round in my brain for a while now. How do I explain what a difference He has made in my life to someone who doesn’t think they need Him?
How do I explain to someone who doesn’t think church is important, or (like me) has all the ready arguments about how churches are filled with hypocrites, that they just want your money, that they are exclusionary, unloving, unwelcoming.
I can easily get defeated with that line of thought. Here again, I get hit with “why bother?” Why bother to explain when no one will understand. How can I attempt to awaken a longing for God with my pitiful words?
Oh but Friend, that longing is intrinsic in us. Ecclesiastes says God put eternity in the hearts of man. Why else do we search and try to fill a void in our lives? Why do we turn to drugs, to alcohol, to sex, to shopping, to parties, to relationships, to anything and everything to give us something joyful, something to hold on to, something real and lasting?
Why bother? Because it is only through Jesus that you will find what you are looking for. I know this. I know from my own experience, my own life, that everything I tried to stuff in the God-shaped hole in my life wouldn’t fit, wouldn’t fill it. I was empty until I turned to Him.
Looking at things from a human point of view, my life was full during the years away from God. I had (in no particular order) a nice home, with a to-die-for view of the mountains, a beautiful daughter, a husband, a nice car, a decent job, friends to hang out with. All the little trappings of a “good” life.
And I was empty, yet I didn’t know it.
It sounds simplistic to say, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but Jesus is the answer to every question. It has been true in my life, and I am so thankful that He has given me Himself.
What I have now with Him is the realest “real” I have ever had. It’s deeper, richer, fuller than anything I’ve ever experienced.
It meets needs I didn’t know I had, and satisfies longings that have plagued me all my life. There is nothing in my former life that in giving up He has not replaced with something so much better. I thought I had some decent relationships in my life, but I have found that the relationship with Him is the one I’ve been looking for. I thought I had some fun in my life, but I have found that the joy I have with Him far exceeds anything I could produce on my own.
It is clean. It is pure. It is real.
I pray that if you’ve convinced yourself you’re just fine where you are, that He will show you the reality of your life. Not to diminish you or to defeat you, but to offer you what is real. You don’t have to clean up first, give up first, restructure first, take care of business first. You just have to reach out to Him. I pray that you will see Him for Who He is. See the love that He has for you, the gifts and blessings that He longs to pour out on you. I pray that He will awaken the longing in your heart for Him. I pray that you will find yourself unsatisfied with the way things are. That may sound harsh, but I want what I have to be yours too, and the only way you’ll get it is if you set down what you’re holding and accept the gift He wants to give you.
Why bother? Because you’ll never be fully satisfied until you do.