And I thought it would be boring…

I have gone to church my entire life. In fact, while my faith and relationship with God has ebbed and flowed, there has never really been a period of time in my 35 years where I have stopped going to a church building – I am not asking for a sticker or accolades, just sharing my background.

I spend too much of my life focused on feeling – fresh love, anger for injustice, giddiness over rediscovering God – oftentimes when the "feeling" subsides, so does my level of commitment. Relationships cool, apathy sets in about the ills of the world and I drift drift drift from God feeling that He has drifted from me. The last period of beaming, thriving Christianity was 1999, previous to that it was 1990. Given that I can actually tell you the years that I was hungering and thirsting so much after God – that He and I had a fresh relationship, I figure (and have known) that I am going about this in much the wrong way.

I see others who have a deep abiding faith that grows and grows. I am not privy to their desert times where they have had to force themselves to pick up the Bible or pray or attend worship. It looks so easy for others, so I ponder what I am doing wrong. I won't come up with an answer in this entry (I thought I would tell you that ahead of time because I reread my blogs and realize I leave a lot hanging a lot of times).

Prayer and Bible reading, two primary faith fertilizers have always seemed boring to me – God knows my heart and already knows this about me. Those two periods of my life included much of both and for some reason, they oozed excitement. I know it is not about me, faith is not about what will jazz Ellen – I know that these things are not supposed to be my entertainment. Many things in life that we are required to do for growth or sustenance are not always fun.

Several weeks ago my pastor preached a sermon that struck a cord with me. I cannot at this point tell you what it was about – it was working and gnawing at a deeper level in me and my memory of the details eludes me. All I know is when he asked for recommitments (which he doesn't do on a weekly basis) I found my arm raising in the air. You only know what I write about myself so I will tell you, my arm does not raise in the air easily in any circumstance where it will be one of the only ones raised. I had been grappling for months wanting to deepen my relationship with God and it was always almost but not quite.

Since then, I have been making myself stretch further into prayer and biblestudy. I have been lke a reluctant child and it has not been easy – again, I like the feeling aspect of my faith, praise and worship music, good sermons with thought provoking illustrations. Mechanics don't come easily for me.

I still need to work on the Bible reading, but have been attending my church's weekly prayer meeting these past three weeks. I must say I dreaded going the first time- an hour of prayer and prayer requests? How would I make it through. I envisioned embarrassing myself by falling asleep or yawning – truly. All I know is that God wants me there because He breathed a freshness into it and prayer for now is no longer stale to me – it is a living breathing thing – and given the feeling I experience when I am there, God is revealing the truth of the verse "when two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them". What an amazing thing to me.

Peace

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About Ellen

I cannot even begin to describe who I am other than broken in body and soul with a dose of the only Hope there is. If you read me, you will know me.
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17 Responses to And I thought it would be boring…

  1. bereans says:

    Ellen, I will be back to comment on this one.

    This is an important post!

    -j

  2. ma says:

    I am a colleague of your husband’s.

    This is my first experience with blogging.

    I appreciate the direction to the FLY.lady. That was exceptionally excellent.

  3. Helen Losse says:

    Ellen,
    It is amazing how God allows each of us to hear exactly what we need to hear, when we need to hear it. Being faithful in the long haul is a result of hiding the Word in our hearts and learning to pray with each breath. The jobs (ministries)we perform will be different, but the motivation is always a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This realationship grows as we spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer (both alone and in groups). The “fresh love, anger for injustice, etc” take on a deeper meaning. You will be in my prayers.

  4. Jayleigh says:

    Ellen… I could have written this about myself. You are amazing, doing this. Oh wow. Seriously, I am awed by your commitment. I struggle with these same issues. And here I am now with a Bible Study and prayer time meeting at my own house. It seems so daunting in the beginning and now it’s a time I so cherish.

    Also, if you want, DO read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I am nearly finished and it’s shown me a few things… I probably should have already known them. I loved the books, but more than that, I felt as though I could really relate to the feelings of the characters, regarding Aslan (Jesus).

    In the book I am reading now, He says to the girl, “You came because I called you.” She said, “NO. We were calling you.” And He replied, “Nobody calls on me unless I first call to their hearts.”

    It’s so true. He’s been calling to YOU all this time. And calling me too. **hugs**

    God is awesome.

  5. Carol says:

    Hi Ellen,

    You are so honest! I would like to comment on this post too, but I will have to wait until later tonight or tomorrow, as Thursdays are pretty busy for me.

  6. journeytomom says:

    Wow! Good stuff – thought provoking. I’m right there with you. The stuff that requires discipline does not come easy for me, either. This verse from an old hymn came to mind:
    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.
    (Come Thou Fount, by Robert Robinson)
    Peace!
    Melissa

  7. Ben says:

    Thanks for Stopping by MiM!

    Enjoyed this post… I enjoy when others are transparent… gives you insight and makes you think… challenges my mind. Glad you are feeling refreshed… God is faithful even when we are distant… but I find that I don’t beat myself up when I slack a bit… I just start a new from that day… he only gives us today… so I try not to think about how I have drifted in the past… I just open his word and read.

    Again, Great Post. Honest.

    Thanks!

  8. Carol says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I really admire you being so honest concerning your struggles in having a relationship with God. I think most people have gone through seasons where praying and reading the Bible can become more of a chore to endure than a privilege. I know I have been there before. Sometimes we can get into a rut by following the same routine all the time when it comes to prayer and Bible reading. Someone once said, if you keep on doing the same old things you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results. Variety in any relationship will help to keep things fresh. As far as Bible reading goes, sometimes it’s nice to do a character study. There are so many great characters to learn about….Abraham, David, Moses, Ruth, and even some negative character studies too, to learn from people’s mistakes. I have a book I bought a while ago that helped me with that called Famous Jerks of the Bible. It’s an odd title, I know, but you really can learn a lot by studying these characters and what lead to their downfalls. Topical studies are good too. Pick a topic, such as prayer and look up as many Scriptures as you can find on it. You could try listening to the Bible on tape or CD as well. Although I haven’t listened to it myself, I know a few people who have told me that they enjoyed listening to a dramatized version of the Bible. Your local library may even have one. Try addding variety to prayer too. Something that has helped me too is praying the Word of God. David said in Psalms, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” That’s something I pray often, because it sure is easy to get our hearts out of tune with God. There are many good prayers in the book of Psalms that you can pray. Anyhow, I hope I’m not sounding preachy. That is not my intent. I really would like to help you. I know sometimes though, no matter what we do, we will not “feel” that closeness to God. I believe He tests us at times to see if we want to serve Him because He’s God or because of what we feel. It is a committment, just like any worthwhile relationship is. If you press on through the times of distance and feeling like you’re hitting a break wall, those good feelings will come back. Hope this helps. I will pray for you.

    Sincerely,

    Carol

  9. Ellen says:

    I want to thank everyone who responded to this post. Seriously -I received so much encouragement yesterday from your comments. I only wish I could find the secret to greater transparency in the non-cyber world but I am working on it.

    Blessings and peace to all of you.

  10. bereans says:

    Ellen!

    Fully intend to comment further on this one! Work has had me busy. 🙂

    -j

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