Five anonymous questions:
– I’ve been a Christian a long time, but now all it seems is like rules, and loneliness and I feel like God only help “good people” … I want to get back to God, but lately I can’t even pray right. I know I’ve done terrible things … But now, I feel like he’s not looking for me.
– So ive struggled with my faith a lot lately … my question is, do we have to change ourselves? or does God help us? I would take guilt over emptiness any day, guilt means God still is telling you where to go.
– I’ve been struggling spiritually for a long time now, I’m afraid to tell people because it’ll just be a huge sob fest … But I don’t know how to follow what God says … I’m really confused.
– I have been struggling with legalism … It makes me expect the worst from God but how do i get over that? And does God help us change or do we have to change and then he”ll help us stay on the right path?
– I feel myself struggling, fighting, doubting, and becoming depressed—seconds from tears at any time …I keep telling myself that I need to make my faith my own but I worry I could get too comfortable if I’m not second-guessing myself every minute of the day. I feel like any time God extends his hand I’m pressed up against the wall, cowering away and chanting a fearful “No.”
My dear wonderful friends:
Normally I would never do this, and I totally don’t mean to brush you off, but I really want to point you to some sermons I’ve preached about these specific things. I don’t mean to “plug” my podcast, and as I’ve said before, I am much more comfortable with writing. But sometimes I believe that it’s helpful to hear someone else’s voice, especially if they have gone through (and still go through) the same things you are.
And here’s a post I’ve written on this previously:
The thing is: there really are no magic words or a silver bullet that could instantly change your heart. I wish there was, but it’s not that easy.
Please know that since you cared enough to message me about this, you have already made a huge step in the right direction. If I could, I would double-high-five you right now.
It’s in your moment of raw honesty that Jesus rolls up his sleeves and begins to restore you by his grace. I know that sounds like a churchy thing to say, but God totally understands your struggle. You can come to him in any condition. He loves you in your slobbery, ugly, vulnerable, flailing mess. He welcomes your doubts, frustrations, questions, and confusion. His mind is already made up about you on the cross.
It’s in your exposed humanity that God’s grace really works, and it won’t work any other way. You don’t have to hide.
Don’t ever be afraid to come to God with the full force of your pure emotional weight. He can handle that. He is just as compassionate as your loyal best friend, just as real as the person who listens to you on the phone, infinitely more gracious than the most mature person you know, and has the power to strengthen you for the very next step.
Really the only thing that could ever possibly change you is God’s unchanging heart for you. Press into Him like you would with any other friendship. No amount of guilt or rules or self-discipline can change you: but only a living, breathing, pulsing, vibrant relationship with your creator. Believe it today, even if it’s just a tiny part of your heart that does. I trust the power of God enough to believe that you will be compelled further into Himself, even if it’s just one more step today.
Love you, dear friends. God loves you infinitely more than that.