I checked my Yahoo! email for the first time since before Christmas today, and I was surprised to find I had an email letting me know that an answer of mine to a question at Yahoo! Answers had been voted the best answer of the bunch. I went to check what the question was, as it had been so long that I couldn't even remember that, much less what I had said in my response. After checking the question and my answer, (which isn't important to this story at the moment,) I started browsing other questions in the same category, which happend to be Religion and Spirituality.
I came across a very recent question, posted by a 16 year old Christian, asking for help and encouragement and Bible verses. This individual was having a hard time being the Christian they thought they should be while under the pressures of being a teen. They specifically wanted help from someone who had felt the same way as a teenager, but had since "overcome" their difficulties. I felt bad for the kid, and read the responses he or she had received already. Most of them broke down into two categories: "I'm a Christian teenager, and I don't think it's hard at all!" (In other words: "What's wrong with you!?!?!") Or, they were from people who didn't claim to be Christians at all, telling the poor kid to simply rely on being happy.
I didn't think either of these two types of responses particularly encouraging. I mean, who wants to be told that they are simply doing it wrong when they're at the end of their rope and have no idea how to do it right, or that they just need to focus on being happy when they can't help but feel miserable? I really felt burdened to share what was on my heart, especially since I could definately relate to finding it hard to "be a Christian" during the teenage years. I started writing a response, and it turned out to be much longer than I was planning. (People who know me well, or who are familiar with my writing won't be surprised.) I also got distracted a few times by other things, so it took me about 2 hours to finish my response from the time I started writing. Unfortunately, by that time, the author of the question had removed it, and I wasn't able to answer. I still want to remember what it was I wrote though, and I thought I might as well share it here, especially since this is the first time I've written anything in a while.
I'm 21 years old, and I've been a "Christian" practically my whole life. In that I grew up in a Bible-teaching church and became a believer when I was 5, by which time I had already memorized around 25 Bible verses.
When I was 16 however, I started rebelling. I didn't do anything really bad or illegal, but I still made some bad choices and ended up pretty miserable.
I started going back to church regularly when I was 18, before I went out of state for college. I thought that's what God wanted me to do, that I needed to go to church as often as possible and do all the right things in order to be happy and to do His will and "do what's right" and please Him. But you know what? I was still miserable, and I had no idea that I was beginning the 2 worst years of my life. Again, not because I did anything horrible or destroyed my life or anything like that, I know plenty of people who had a harder time circumstancially than I did. But you see, it's not circumstance that matters, it's our RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD that matters.
The Bible doesn't emphasize DOING when it comes to pleasing God, because doing things doesn't create relationship. God knows us, He knows our shortcomings and our faults and our failings, past, present and future, and yet He loves us unconditionally anyway. The Bible says "Be still and know that I am God." What is that verse calling us to do? To be still, to BE! Not to DO.
Doing is always done in the flesh, because it is always us trying to accomplish something FOR God, instead of acknowledging what He's already done for us. This message goes beyond the initial belief in His Son, as it applies to how He desires to reach out to us and care for us and experience relationship with us every moment of every day for the rest of our lives!
Will we fail at that? Of course, but it doesn't surprise Him! Does it grieve Him? Yes, but not because He's disappointed in us. He grieves because by not trusting Him we will experience something so much less than what He has planned for us. He wants to fulfill us and make us more and more sure every day that we are HIS.
I don't know what you are going through personally, but I do completely understand how hard it can seem to "be a Christian." My friend, you don't need to DO anything to be a Christian if you are already a believer. You are God's child, and He holds you in His hand. Both the Father and the Son hold you in their hands, together, and the Holy Spirit dwells inside you, giving you peace and joy. You might not realize He's there, or recognize His working or influence, but believe me, if you ask God for a deeper relationship with Him, you will get it. He will move heaven and earth to show Himself to you, in whatever way you need it. I'm not saying you'll get some sort of vision or out of body experience, but keep a look out for some crazy things to happen if you truly do want a relationship with the Heavenly Father, the Papa, who loves you more than anything.
If you like to read, I would recommend checking out this book: The Shack by William P. Young. It's very deep and rather sad I'll warn you, but it has a wonderful message and changed the way I view the Christian Life forever.
This article might also be helpful: http://www.lifestream.org/LSBL.Nov05a.html
And as always, the Psalms are a wonderful comfort. Not only because of the promises within them, but because the writer does not shy from writing about his pain and doubts and insecurities. He always comes back to God is always faithful though. Psalm 119:25-32 were a great encouragement to me about a year ago when I lost a friend to suicide. I hope they encourage you as well.
Many blessings and prayers
Well, there it is. I hope it can encourage someone, since the person it was meant for probably won't ever read it. But who knows what Father has in store? I know I wrote it for a reason, and I'm content that He's knows for what.