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.