If we can get one thing out of the Bible it is that God’s people consistently doubt, stumble, and try to go their own way. It’s kind of what we do. Because God is faithful He doesn’t give up on us. In fact He goes to extremes to keep us on track. Sending your son to die is extreme.
We could talk about David. Oh yeah. King David. He had an affair and had a man killed so he could have the woman he wanted. Yet, if we continue with the entire story we may get too far away from our own reality. We may feel like breaking out the crayons like we did in Sunday School and coloring a cute picture while the teacher talks about David and his adventures. We may have a hard time relating his story to our very real lives.
I didn’t go to church on Sunday. I didn’t even want to.
I am depressed. People are sick of it because it’s lasted too long.
I am working a couple jobs, in the middle of some major life transition and just can’t make church a priority right now.
I am hurt from my last church and am not ready to commit to anything new yet. I just want to attend.
My marriage is on the rocks and I need to concentrate on that.
We can make excuses for why we drift from church and God, but can there be times when people need the space to drift and when we need to show them grace as they navigate this part of their journey.
Are we prepared to show others grace when they falter? Do we give people room to stumble and find their new way on their journey?
God choose a man that was killing Christians to write a large portion of the Bible and serve as a catalyst for change in the movement to spread Christianity to the world. It was Paul. For a moment consider only the first part of the last sentence. God choose a man that was killing Christians to write a large portion of the Bible.
Paul was a legalist technician, a purveyor of religion, and a man that strove to be right. He looked and smelled religiously correct. He would have went to church on Sunday and looked right.
I spoke with a good Christian once. I shared that I was so fearful over a situation at home that I was unable to leave home in the evening. I had been betrayed and the betrayal had occurred when I was not around.
When I left home things happened so the fear of those things happening again paralyzed me. In essence for a short period of time I couldn’t leave home unless it was for work, or Sunday morning church. This good Christian told me that I was wrong. I was forsaking the assembly by not overcoming my fear and coming to church on Sunday nights. Guilt was added to my shame, my fear, and my depression.
God choose a man that was killing Christians to write a large portion of the Bible and to serve as a catalyst for change. Is there not room for us to stumble on our journey with God?
Christians should be consistent in their faith. Consistency should be the hallmark of our relationship with a living God, yet even the great saints of the Bible who demonstrated consistency faltered. They strived with God in figuring out what life was supposed to look like. They didn’t dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s like Paul would have prior to conversion, but in the secret parts of their life they were faithful to acknowledge Christ as savior and maintained a relationship with Him. They consistently acknowledged their need for God while they wrestled with Him.
Paul killed Christians and was chosen to lead a key evangelistic effort. Can I be shown the same grace when I simply struggle to figure out life with God? Can I love God and maintain a relationship with Him, but feel confused about how He wants me to serve Him? I am not forsaking God. I am trying to figure things out in a stage of life. If we don’t attend your church meeting, aren’t up for you way of doing Bible study, aren’t into making pies with the church ladies, and are confused about what doctrines we believe in is that okay? Even for a while? Or is it more important that we dot the I’s and cross the T’s?
I have four children who I raised in a conservative church. They heard the gospel, understand what I’s need dotted, and what T’s need crossed and as of today none of them are loving and serving God. They know of God and understand where they should be on Sunday, but have no desire to be there right now. They need grace. They are figuring all of their life out which includes their relationship with God. Can we show them grace, give them space to grow and learn, or do they need a staunch reminder of how they aren’t lining up? Maybe their journey will have them line up in a way that is different from where they started and maybe our journey will too?
God transforms and changes us through our lives. We have seasons where we show up to every service and we have seasons where we don’t.
We may have times where fear keeps us glued to one spot and times when we are fearless in our actions. There may be seasons of hope and seasons of confusion. Doesn’t God work through it all?
Strive and wrestle with God. Hash out your relationship with Him. Sometimes we dot all the I’s and sometimes we don’t, but the key is to keep persevering and striving. Because we aren’t where we should be doesn’t mean we should quit altogether. In time the seasons will change and we will be in the place that He had planned all along.