Question: Maintaining Faith After Moving Away

Anonymous asked:

I feel like I rely too much on my church, the pastor’s sermons, and the community for my faith. Now that I’m away from my home church, my time spent with God has been little to none. Having an intimate relationship with God has never made sense to me which is why I depend on sermons and leaders’ words because its a source of immediate answers. I tried doing QTs regularly, praying, etc. but I feel like it’s one-way and I’m talking to a wall. What should I do before I completely fall away?

 

Hey friend, I’ll let you in on a big Christian secret.

Even if you had an amazing non-mega megachurch with an articulate young tatted hipster pastor and perfectly loving accountability partners and undiscovered podcasts from C.H. Spurgeon and your roommates were C.S. Lewis and Pope Francis  — none of this will make your journey of faith a smooth ride forever.

It would definitely help.  But I’ve seen many Christians in wonderful churches still struggle in their daily walk.

Because you and I — we’re human.  It happens.  Who knows why we suddenly get sad for no reason?  Or happy for the same non-reason?  Who knows why we change just as quickly as the weather?  Who knows why we get tired of stuff and fall out of touch and change our preferences every hour?

All I can say to that is we are squishy fragile flesh-and-blood beings: and we can’t be so hard on ourselves about it.

You might feel like you’re falling away and you’re not praying “enough,” and I understand that: but please don’t let this feeling trick you into thinking you’ve lost God.  Please do not grade yourself on a ridiculous standard that unfairly judges you.



I know a lot of high schoolers who graduate and will miss church a few times, and then think, “I don’t feel God anymore, and it’s all my fault.”  Which keeps them from going to church again because they’ve “lost God,” and it’s this vicious cycle of self-condemnation when all I want to yell is, Relax bro.

If listening to sermons helps you, then cool. If listening to leaders and mentors and peers helps you, be blessed.  God speaks through them.  We don’t need to set up a false dichotomy where getting advice from a friend has somehow become “idolatry” in place of God.  Approaching God through prayer and Scripture is not an act of religious compensation for all the times we’ve neglected Him.  That would be too easy.  And even if that’s so, then lean into God’s grace with your whole being and remember that He receives you in any condition.

Please also find a good church community.  Find a good pastor and mature friends with whom you can share these concerns.   It’s okay to set aside time to pray and read Scripture and such.

Ask many, many, many questions, not just about Christianity, but about everything.  We tend to so easily question our faith when we hardly put the same filter on what we learn in the world, and it’s a bias that cripples many college freshmen.  Don’t be impressed when someone comes at you with all kinds of so-called scientific facts or cute little catchphrases.  Ask questions and find the bottom line.

But again: before you do all that, please cast off the guilt.

 

Please remember that intimacy with God means we believe He is good, gracious, loving, forgiving, accepting, and all the wisdom we need — even if that belief is a tiny mustard seed today amidst all our swirling circumstances.

We can approach Him as a Brother, Friend, Father, King, and Counselor.  You can tell Him everything, including, “I don’t even feel You right now.”  He will not bite your head off, but restore you piece by piece.  God can handle our craziness in every season.  He understands that fleshy part of us, and He will work with you to meet you where you are.  By faith, believe.

— J.S.

 

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4 thoughts on “Question: Maintaining Faith After Moving Away

  1. Thank you Pastor Park! I have experienced this up/down in/out rollercoaster of ‘feelings’ so many times in my life. My experience has shown that if we can weather the downs/outs and stay faithful to what we’ve CHOSEN to believe, even through spiritual drought, that this too shall pass and we will again have a season of walking close with Him. Maybe even closer than last time. I have seen this so many times that I have learned to trust what I know and not what I “feel”. The Lord is always there and will wait for us as we struggle, picking right up with His plans and goals when we are ready to continue on. If you stay faithful, you too will learn from experience the real meaning of the all-important fact: the Lord is worthy of your trust, without regard to momentary feelings. The momentary feelings will still happen, but they lose their power when you see this truth. You simply wait for it to pass, knowing He’s there waiting! Once again, thank you for your words!

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  2. If this person approached me with these concerns, I would also add that it’s a good sign that it bothers him/her that things are different – just as in a marriage. To me, that shows that you truly care about your commitment and relationship. It’s like your brain knows how things should be, but your heart and emotions are changing – probably into something far better in the long run if you keep the commitment that you made in the beginning. Feelings DO come and go – like you said. I guess most of us don’t expect to go through those times with our relationship with the Lord.

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