Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yahoo! Answers

Ok, this is an unorthodox post, but it's something I took a while to write and I just need to get it out there.

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
~A sister


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.

4 comments:

Hadassah said...

Sounds like the beginnings of a testimony to me!

Wendell said...

Hey Amanda! Thank you very much for your kind words and I am touched that you were encouraged by my words (responses to others @ answers). I'm new to this format. I can see a lot of good that can come from it. Seems like you have to answer the questions right away, or yours get lost in the shuffle! Sometimes I think there are folks who post questions specifically designed to get a rise out of christians--like that one "If I was to sell my soul to the devil, what should I ask for it?" My response was "You assume that your soul is yours to sell..."
I think, as with anything "Christian", we do best when we're transparent, warts and all. You do that here with your response, so good job! I have an addition to your comments about works; I think you're right on the money in that people can get caught up in the "doing" and sacrifice the relationship. I've seen other people focus on the relationship, and sacrifice the 'doing'. I guess if I was forced to choose one or the other, I'd choose the "doing" over the "relationship", for one reason: we are never the intended recepients of Agape love. Agape always originates with Jesus, flows through us, to others. The only way it can flow is by "doing". I think a lot of folks just give God lip service (unfortunately, myself included sometimes). It's like the two sons whose father tells them to go out and work in the field. The first one says "sure dad, right away dad, no problem dad", but doesn't go. The second whines and complains, stomps his feet and says "there's no way I'll ever go out there!", but then he goes. And Jesus said "Who did the father's will?" Then there's that other verse that says "Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers" Then the very next thing Jesus says is "Now go!" lol--that kills me every time! Finally, the verse I seem to rely the most on is "For it is God who works in me to will and to do." It is He that gives me the desire and strength to get things done. If he tells me something directly, I'll try my best to get on it. If I'm not so sure it was him, and I don't get to it, I try not to beat myself up too much. God is not in the business of making our lives easier; quite the opposite--our spirits are being shaped and molded in the only way they can be in this life. Unfortunately a great deal of that shaping and molding comes through painful experiences, anger, and the wrath of man (or my wife, which ever comes first!) lol
Well, it's 2:30am out here on the West Coast, and my wife is going to have my head on a platter (again) (seriously, it's not that bad ;)
Take care and thanks again for your encouraging email!
Wendell (nicnacpattywack_givemeabone)

Night Writer said...

Ah, but "relationship" is "doing"! Relationships take work (doing) but it is not by our works that we are saved. God reached out to me so that I can have a relationship with Him, but I have to reach back toward Him as well; as I seek Him my actions are redirected.

Similarly, I have to be willing and open to reach out to others, not on some quota system, but as a friend, being sensitive to the things that I can do or provide for my friend's encouragement. It might be a meal, it might be an errand, it be taking the time to really listen, it might be sharing a portion of the blessings that have been poured out on me...it might even be leaving a comment in someone's blog!

I can do all manner of "doing" but if I have not love it means nothing. I would rather have the relationship first and foremost, and let that guide my doings with God and be reflected in my doings with others.

Btw, Amanda, Mitch at Shot in the Dark has some kind words about your blog today. Congrats, they are well-deserved!

Mysty said...

Amanda

What a wonderful post! I believe you need to repost this every so often so it is at the top of your "most recents".
It is natural for us in our human nature and rational mind to think that "doing" should be our focus. Or even for doing to go along with faith. But God loves to work in ways that confound the wise. If in our relationships we focus on the doing what is best in love, we will become robotic and lose the relationship. But if we focus on His love for us, His wisdom, His comfort, His presence, His guidance, His correction, His beauty etc. etc... there is NO doubt that He can THEN work in us to will and do of HIS good pleasure. Then it will not be My good pleasure for His glory...but HIS good pleasure.

Here is a great excerpt from None but the Hungry Heart:
PERSONAL CHRISTIANITY

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10a).

Fellowship with the written Word is the foundation, and fellowship with the living Word is the superstructure, for spiritual growth.

"While Martha was cumbered about much serving, and her love, most true in its way, went forth in actively providing for the Lord's outward need, Mary, unconsciously perhaps, proved her stronger faith and deeper love by sitting at His feet and drinking in His words. The thought of Martha's heart was, What a feast I must give the Messiah, when I receive Him at my home!

"Mary, on the contrary, felt that the best feast for Him, and for herself, was to receive and treasure up all she could from Him–to see, and hear, and be with Him. If we are learning thus from the Lord Jesus, we honor and please Him incomparably more than by anything we think to confer upon Him. In the long run, too, it is the listening at His feet which best fits for the most acceptable worship and service." -J.N.D.

"We should ever remember that Christianity is not a set of opinions, a system of dogmas, or a number of views; it is pre-eminently a living reality–a personal, practical, powerful thing, telling itself out in all the scenes and circumstances of daily life, shedding its hallowed influence over the entire character and course, and imparting its heavenly tone to every relationship which one may be called of God to fill.

"In a word, it is that which flows from being associated and occupied with the Lord Jesus. This is Christianity. There may be clear views, correct notions, sound principles, without any fellowship with the Lord Jesus in glory; but an orthodox creed without communion with Him will prove to be a cold and barren thing." -C.H.M.

"And the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10b).