Instead of writing the obligatory blogger’s Thanksgiving post about all the things I’m grateful for, a few days ago I chose to write about the Christianity blues. That stinkin’ adversary seemed to be working over-time, desperately trying to convince me that God didn’t really have a personal interest in my life. That He wasn’t a loving, intimate God who deeply cared about the situations I’m faced with on a daily basis. Since I shared the Christianity blah’s with the online world, I thought it only appropriate to express how I’m feeling today. The holiday spirit has finally caught up to me. I’ve tasted. I’ve seen. And the Lord is good. (Psalm 34)
A few days ago I went to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving where my entire family gathered together. In my opinion, it was one of the best Turkey Days I’ve had in years. First off, it was the first one in over a decade where I had actually been completely sober so I can remember every conversation we had, a big bonus. We also had two beautiful babies recently added to our crew, one with a very large dome that still has me smiling even days after I’ve left him, something to be truly grateful for. And finally, we talked a lot about this God character that has seemed to insert Himself into our lives a whole lot more here recently.
We talked about the Sabbath and whether it mattered to God which day we kept holy, we talked about predestination and the idea that God picks some of us for heaven, while leaving others destined for eternal hell fire, putting tradition over the Bible, whether prayers are meaningless because God has already chosen the course of our lives or whether he wants/appreciates them, and we talked about the meaning and process of sanctification. There were a lot of “what if” scenarios. My family likes those. Things like, “what if I was a Christian and I was about to rob a bank and I died in a car crash on the way, do I go to heaven?” “What if I grow up in a foreign land and never hear about Jesus do I go to heaven?” “What if God picks me for heaven but destines my husband for hell, would I even want to serve that God anymore?”
To me, it was a great debate. I admit, when I got in the car I did ask God to forgive me for being so argumentative with my brother Jon about Calvin's theology. The idea that God doesn't listen to my prayers or want a relationship with me because He's soverign just bugs me, but that doesn't mean I need to yell at him about it. I struggle with the need to be right so of course we both fought to get the last word in. Add the fact that us crazy Italians all scream over one another in an attempt to be heard and you can see why I felt compelled to repent. I just don't picture Jesus sharing the Gospel by screaming at the top of his lungs about how great the Father is. I do wonder though what's worse, arguing about my thoughts on God or just remaining silent when I hear statements such as, “God destines some people to hell to magnify His glory.”
Inevitably, over the course of the holiday weekend, I ended up getting the dreaded early 30’s with no kids question…. “So, Jess…when are those babies coming?” It was a fair question, and as my sister pointed out, I’m not getting any younger. It did get me thinking again about having children.
Since the year is coming to an end and so is this project, I couldn’t help but think about what the New Year was going to bring my way. And so, I spent the next several days fervently praying for God to give me some guidance. Something I don’t do often. Sure, I pray about 4 or 5 times a day for the people and situations in my life. I pray at night, in the morning, before I eat, and while driving, the normal times. But I’m talking about that pleading prayer; hands clasped and on my knees. That kind where your whole body is just lifted up by the Spirit of God and you can feel Him, the type of prayer where you just KNOW He’s holding you close.
First, I thanked Him for the interest my family has shown in knowing Him more fully. Then, I spent a good deal of time thanking Him for my husband. Patrick has been so incredibly supportive of my Christian walk that I am overwhelmed by the love he’s shown me. For someone who doesn’t read the Bible every day or spend much time in prayer, my husband certainly loves like a faithful Christian. I then brought before the Lord my request. I asked that He reveal to me the next steps in my life. Is it children, God? Then I will grow a family who walks in Your ways. Is it a job? Then show me one that glorifies You and I will take those paychecks and grow your Kingdom. Should I start a new blog project? Do missionary work? Look to do Bible studies with others? Whether it’s serve just one person or tell my testimony to millions, Lord transform my heart and make it one with Christ so I may do Your will on earth. I literally begged, “Please, Lord, lead me to what You’d have me do. I humbly give my life to you. Do as you wish.”
I sat there quietly praying on my knees and slowly, tears of joy began to stream down my face and great emotion overcame me. I pictured myself kneeling at the foot of the cross. I felt such gratitude for the sacrifice that He made that I wept with gladness. The words, “These are the prayers that are sweet to my ears” gently spoke to my heart. I remained in kneeling position and sat without thought, marinating in the Spirit. I didn’t analyze what that statement meant or ponder where it was coming from. Instead, I sat in silence, and allowed the love of God to fill me. A few moments later I offered up a joke to God. “I knew I was right about You appreciating our prayers!”
Within 48 hours of pleading with God that His will be done through me, I believe He has already started to open doors for me. (No Mom, sorry. I’m not pregnant.)
I am however hungry to share the love of Christ with the people I meet. I would even use the phrase, I am burdened to do so. I think that’s what a calling must feel like. It’s almost as though if I don’t share with people the Good News that God won’t give me rest until I say “Yes” to doing so. It makes me think of that scene from Ghost where Patrick Swayze won’t stop singing the Henry the 8th song to Whoopie Goldberg until she does what he asks. If you don’t get that reference, it’s one of those had to be there things…..
So today Christianity doesn’t stink. Actually, today it’s better than it’s ever been before. I guess God rewards faith and obedience after all.
I am moving forward with whatever door He opens for me next. Even though I don’t know where I’m headed, I’m goin’ places. I’m going to let Him guide my steps as I put one foot in front of the other and just keep on walking. My soul is truly boasting in the Lord. And oh man, that’s just something to be so incredibly thankful for. To get what I'm experiencing today, read Psalm 34. David has a way of saying it much better than I do.