Monday, March 8, 2010


Back in my post-college years, I was looking for a church. I had come back to church during my sophomore year at Michigan State and had been involved in campus ministry 'til I graduated in 1990. I (ironically) found a job a year later in Ann Arbor.

Having only experienced the outreach-related mindset of campus ministry, I found myself attending the University of Michigan campus ministry equivalent. I didn't feel like an "adult" yet so going to a "regular" church congregation seemed awkward. I was still re-new to my faith and no "grown up" congregation seemed to share my enthusiasm. So, I spent the next 6 years worshiping with my former rivals (though I never EVER rooted for U of M, I promise! LOL).

While I was working in Ann Arbor, I started my teacher certification program at Eastern Michigan. And, while working full time and schooling three-quarter time, I eventually graduated after fall semester 1996. And, off I went to Michigan's Thumb area to teach.

Again, I was faced with where to go to church. I tried several but none really "spoke" to me. As I
whined discussed rationally this problem with my former U of M pastor, he gave this advice: "You can't keep dating churches. You need to pick one and marry it." So, soon after I took his advice and transferred my membership to a local church.

That pastor's advice has been ringing in my ears again this week and I think the Lord has brought it back to my mind on purpose.

I've been involved in two different studies over the last couple months. And, both of them are converging into some pretty uncomfortable realizations. The biggest one is this: I've been "dating" God but haven't really "married" Him yet. *sigh*

I say the words. I attend when I should and even enjoy it. I sing with choir and LOVE that. And, I really enjoy working with the people at our new church. But, my prayer life stinks. My Bible reading stinks as does my Bible memorization.

I've said before that I always wanted a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus conversion story but the Lord has had other plans. I've slowly...ever-so-slowly...have been creeping toward a stronger and stronger faith. But, I was completely stumped when a person in leadership at our new church asked me when I accepted Christ.

*blank stare*

I've always been His. I've said the prayer. I've come to the altar several times to re-dedicate. I've been prayed over and anointed. I've even been baptized again as an adult. But, can I put my finger on a day, time, and experience where "it" finally happened for good? No. And, that bothers me.

Then, these studies are starting to push pretty hard on my idleness and borderline disobedience with regards to God.

Don't get me wrong - I WANT to be sold out, obedient, and completely His. But, I don't think I've made some final leap. It appears I'm still skirting around and "dating" the idea of being sold out instead of being settled in and being "married" to the idea.

So, I'm sorting through and processing all the "stuff" that being uncovered and revealed. I'm digging - and I'm praying it's deep enough to find the real treasure. A more real and more intimate relationship with Christ.


Unashamed said...

Oh sweetie, please, please, PLEASE don't go there. The dating/marriage analogy is fine with regards to your commitment to a particular church home - at some point every Christian must come to a conclusion as to which part of the body to attach oneself to - but that analogy simply doesn't apply to your relationship with your Saviour. The reason is simple - Jesus attached Himself to you, not the other way around.

Read your post over again. Pay attention to how many times you refer to the things that YOU have done to demonstrate your commitment to Him. I've said the prayer. I've come to the altar several times to re-dedicate. I've been prayed over and anointed. I've even been baptized again as an adult.

The problem with this analogy is that it points you back towards yourself and what you have done rather to Christ and what He has done.

Asking someone when they "accepted" Christ is a really unfair question. None of us can say for sure, because no one can say for sure when the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts. The best we can say is that we recall when we first CONFESSED that we believed.

You say you think you haven't yet "married" God - I take that to mean that you think that you haven't made some final inner commitment to Him. Beth, sweetie, I have news for you...NONE of us ever fully commits ourselves to Him. Not even for a moment. That may be hard to come to terms with, but the reality is, as long as we are on this earth, our sinful nature remains and we must struggle with it daily. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us..."

This is precisely the reason why we don't look to ourselves for our assurance. As long as we remain sinful, we can never be sure that we were sincere enough when we said the prayer, or that really meant it when we dedicated our lives to Him or that our commitment was true when we were baptized. If we are honest with ourselves, we must conclude that we have NOT entirely committed ourselves and there lies the problem. The only way we can be assured that we are "married" to Christ is to look to HIM. HE has betrothed Himself to YOU. This is your assurance.

So your prayer life stinks, huh? Lately mine does too. I have this fabulous new study Bible, but I much prefer spending my time on facebook. My life is full of sin - everywhere I turn I see it, and I suspect that I haven't even begun to uncover the darkness of my heart. "But if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This is my consolation.

Beth, the fact that you are concerned with the state of your spiritual life is cause to rejoice. It indicates that the Spirit is dwelling in you and moving you forward in sanctification. If His commitment to you wasn't there, you simply wouldn't care about your spiritual life. Take heart sweetie, and turn your eyes away from yourself and back to Christ!

sara said...

I'm going to write this before I even read Anita's comment - I bet we agree.

Honey, you don't need a road to Damascus conversion. Some of us He knocks off a horse and some of us He woos gently and gradually. He knows best.

And you already are a member of the Body of Christ - His bride. If you are not as faithful as you think you should be, then maybe that's a little Holy Spirit whisper, but remember that HE IS FAITHFUL regardless. It so does not depend on how good you are - if it did, we wouldn't need Him.

I understand the dating churches thing - it is a big deal to put aside petty preferences regarding style etc, and it's an even bigger deal to put yourself under authority. Yet, I believe it is the right thing to do.

OK, I'm going to read Anita's comment before I submit this.

Yep, I'm not even a Lutheran ;) and I agree with her

sara said...

OH and I DO so understand and agree about wanting a more intimate relationship with Christ. Seek Him. Press in. I hear ya.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Hmmm...I guess I wasn't as clear as I would have hoped. I'm not "doing" to be "earning" something. More a consideration of how I may appear to be a "good Christian" but haven't really scratched the surface and dug in and really sincerely went seeking Him.

I'm not sold out...yet! I still have my mini-kingdoms and control issues that I haven't truly given over to Him. I never really realized 'til recently how deep my trust issues go...and how it's affecting the way I trust God to do what He says He will and that it will be always for my own good.

And, that I don't "hear" His voice like want to so I can step out on a moment's notice and do His will and act as He would have me do in a given situation.

Like I said...still working it through. LOL