The Sometimes Painful Road of Faith
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
Sometimes I think more clearly when I pray to God on paper. Here are some of my honest thoughts taken from an entry in my personal journal.
God, I don’t want to be spiritual. I don’t even want to be religious. All that stuff is manmade attempts to be pious. I call it “appearances of holiness.” True holiness is incredibly humbling.
No, I want to be godly. That is it. Not churchy, but a right relationship with You, Lord.
God, as much as I hate to be in the crucible and I hate being tested, because frankly it hurts, I can withstand the heat when I realize the change it brings. Without that knowledge, I want to jump out of the fire.
The more I grow as a Christian, the more I realize that I often don’t really know what I am saying. I don’t really know what I am promising You, God. “Lord, I will always love You.” Do I mean that? I have said it. If loving God means obeying His commandments, then there are many times that I have not loved You, God. I simply lied. Not intentionally. I just couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain.
Like Peter saying, “I will never deny you, Lord,” I have had my share of pious platitudes. I am learning that the key is to be really honest and to realize that without you, God, I can’t do it.
In my own sinful flesh, I don’t want to be a living sacrifice. I don’t want to put my junk on the altar. There are days when I would love to continue in my sin, if I didn’t feel the pang of the Holy Spirit speaking gently to my soul, “No, my daughter. Don’t go there.” Even then sometimes I sulk a bit before giving in to You. Pain hurts. Change hurts.
All these years as a Christian, and I had no idea that I would have to die! All I knew was that Jesus died for me. And then I accepted that and looked forward to a wonderful life full of joy and blessings. I don’t remember committing to dying. I don’t remember that death warrant. But there it is.
Lord, dying is painful. It often comes with a struggle, whether that be out-and-out arguing with You or a sigh of defeat as I must decrease so that You can increase. Forgive me, Lord. I know that ultimately Your burden is light. It is just that when my flesh feels like it is being dragged through an acid bath, all I want is quick relief.
It is a very good thing, God, that you help me out on this one. Otherwise, I would be doomed to hell. I simply can’t do the right thing apart from You. I need You desperately. I need You more than I will ever know. Strange, isn’t it? Strange that I don’t even realize how much I need You. But You, You always know how much I need You, don’t You? It is just like You to turn human experience upside down.
The thing about religion and spirituality is that these things don’t interfere with my day. They don’t demand more out of me than I am willing to give. I create spirituality to fit my life. I pick and choose. And then I make public my wonderfully spiritual self so that others will emulate me. It is seductive. It smells of power. It is neat and packaged and rolled up like a yoga mat. It is stashed away in the corner.
God, You are none of those things. You are not to be boxed. You demand more than I would expect, though Your grace is there to sustain me. It is the simplest of relationships, and yet unfathomable at the same time. I do not create my godliness by picking and choosing what ritual to perform or what festival to celebrate. It is a moment-by-moment thing, all the while following what You have told me to do as outlined in Your Word.
Godliness is doing the right thing no matter what. It is doing the right thing when it hurts, when I have lost it all. It is doing the right thing when everyone else is mocking me and telling me that I am a fool. It is doing the right thing in the face of major temptation.
It sometimes makes sense, but not always. It is sometimes pleasurable, but not always. However, in the end, it is peace. It might not be what I had originally desired, but it is best. I know that I will be satisfied, even though I might not understand why I have to do what You say.
As You say, Lord, all things do work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. Help me, uphold me, be near to me. And let me serve You with renewed vigor.
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