The God discussion – Why do I believe? (Part 1)

Posted: 28/05/2011 in God
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What makes you think God is real? What changed for you that made you believe? Where did He come from? Do you really believe the stuff in the bible is true? If He’s real why doesn’t He stop the awful things that are happening in the world? Why did He create the capacity for evil? Thought-provoking questions aren’t they? I have been challenged in recent months, with these and other questions about why I believe what I believe and I can understand why 1 Peter 3:15 says “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” It’s not that I don’t have an answer; it’s just that I’ve never really been asked to articulate it to the depth I’m being challenged to now. And honestly nor had I wanted to, as I lived a very hypocritical life. As well, I have been afraid to go beyond superficial conversation about God for many reasons, the most being that, one, it involves me opening up about a very personal aspect of my life’s journey and two, because I have had this inherent but incorrect need to convince people then and there that God is real! I know now that I can’t convince anyone, that’s up to God. I can only share what I know, what He’s done for me. I share because He want’s me to and because I can’t image for a moment what it would be like to not know God. I want to share why I believe what I believe, not to convince anyone, not to start an argument; but to provoke thought; who is God and what does He want with me? Forget theology for a moment, let me tell you a little about what God has done for me personally!

I grew up with a firm grounding in the Christian faith and in my teenage years I walked closely with God. Many would say that it’s because I don’t know anything different that I am a follower of Jesus and that it’s my parent’s faith not my own. I can say for certain that it’s not, because at the age of 22 I left the church and rejected my faith. Strangely I never really questioned God’s existence and if I did it was fleeting, I guess you could say I was an agnostic. For the next 10 years I lived a self-centred existence, doing what I wanted, when I wanted and taking ridiculous risks with my life. I was heading down the metaphorical path of self-destruction and life became very ugly. In desperation I turned back to my faith and tried to walk with God but my understanding of what that actually meant was distorted and unachievable. My perception was that God was distant, impossible to please and critical and so I started trying to “be a better Christian”. It became a religious journey consumed with guilt, fear and hypocrisy as I strived and failed, strived and failed. I called myself a Christian but lived as if I weren’t because I just didn’t get God and the world was still far too appealing. Through all this, in the innermost part I hated myself. I felt unloved and not worthy of love and had no sense of purpose. It was as if something was missing or distorted or a little off kilter in my life and I tried fixing it in many ways but nothing worked. I got to the point of giving up, angry, bitter, and desperately lonely; I hated my life, my job and resented my faith – it was too hard. I felt it would have been better to not know God at all. How does one who is apparently a Christ-follower feel this way? Because I really did not know or understand God; He is love. It really is as simple as that. I’ve talked about God’s relentless pursuit of us, of His unfathomable love and in February 2010 I came to understand that. When I threw my hands in the air and said “enough of my way” allowing God to completely take over my life, EVERYTHING changed and I have not been the same since! To quote George Muller “There was a day when I died, utterly died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, taste and will; died to the world, it’s approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my [church] or friends and since then have studied only to find myself approved unto God”. This has been my experience. Fear is gone, striving and religion is gone. God is no longer distant but personal, intimate and far greater than anything I describe in the written or spoken word. I have peace, freedom, hope and joy and am finally coming to an understanding of just how much God loves me. You can call those words cliché if you want (peace, freedom, hope, joy and love) but can you really say you have all of them in your own life; without a doubt, 100% and with every fibre of your being?

This is a really brief and to an extent, heavily edited summary of what God has done for me personally. One can argue God and the bible and can to a degree philosophise about another’s personal experience, but without having their exact thoughts and experiences, their brain and their journey, theories are only going to be just that;  theories. Of course none of this addresses theology? I won’t pretend to have any great understanding of theology and I, without doubt, will not be able to answer every question to the asker’s satisfaction but seeing as this blog site is “what I reckon about God, travel and life…” I’ll do my best to chat about my understanding of some of the basic principles of the Christian faith in coming posts.

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