I’m dead serious. I don’t Twitter – don’t do any lengthy email. I never even saw a Facebook page until a year ago. I rarely do social media. This is my first blog ever, so please be patient with me while I figure this out.
So then, why blog?
As much as I value theological truth and want always to pursue it, you’ll only rarely read me weighing in on deep theological issues or controversies. Here’s what really interests me; and, I’ve said this about myself many times. “I’m reasonably certain Jesus would prefer that I was half as smart and twice as obedient.” What really drives me is how does this truth I claim to believe, work itself out in real life?
I’m a teacher and spiritual mentor, but mostly I’m a storyteller. I’m hoping that in some of my stories you’ll recognize yourself and I can help keep you from making some of the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve been nearly a full time mentor for almost 27 years. (You can go to the About page, if you really want to know more about me.) At 63, I have mileage and the odometer is still rolling – I’m still learning from God and life. And, perhaps I can help you better navigate this amazing adventure of following Jesus.
So, here’s my first story – it’s actually my own story, taken from the opening pages of my new book, The 10 Second Rule. At the end I have a question for you, so please hang with me.
“Up until age thirty-one, I was your standard-issue Christian – the kind the Christian schools and churches in our town pounded out year after year like spiritual model T’s – mostly in one color: beige. We were covenant children. We figured we came with a cradle-to-grave salvational warranty.
And in the mid-sixties, every high school senior in my church was expected to make a public profession of their faith unless they were atheists or a democrat. I was neither. But I had questions.
So my parents called our pastor. A good man, really – kind, intelligent, but a man who could be deadly serious when he needed to be. “Our son’s just not sure, Pastor. Maybe if you talked to him.” And over he came to our house to work on me like the last holdout on a hung jury. My parents knew they needed a closer. And Reverend Jacob was a closer.
My parents sat in the room with us, praying, while Jake went to work. “Tell me, son – what’s the problem?”
Well, the problem was that I didn’t feel anything – any real excitement for Jesus. I believed that everything in the Bible was true. I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, that he’d died on the cross, risen from the dead, and was coming back to judge the living and the dead. I bought the whole party line – but felt no passion for God, no passion to live a life radically different from any other guy my age.
If I was going to make a public profession of my faith, the equivalent of adult baptism in most churches, then it seemed to me that I ought to have a little fire in my belly for God. I didn’t. All I really cared about were girls and making a ton of money as fast as I could. Of course, I couldn’t say that to the pastor, especially not in front of my parents, so I just stuck with the “I don’t feel anything special” line.
I don’t remember everything he said that day, but here’s the gist of it: “Clare, if you believe that everything you’ve been taught about God is true – you have faith. You are a believer, even if you don’t feel it right now.”
I looked to my parents for support, but they were avoiding direct eye contact. They sensed that Jake was on the verge of victory, and they didn’t want to break the cobra’s stare.
I loved my parents more than God back then, so I caved.
They were happy.
The pastor was happy.
But, I wasn’t.
I felt like I was about to stand in front of the king and pledge my allegiance, even though I wasn’t really in love yet with either him or his kingdom. It felt phony.
But Jake was the pastor, seminary trained and all, so who was I, a seventeen-year-old kid, to tell him what faith was? I became an official Christian that June.
One of the worst mistakes of my life.
In my mind I now had my “get out of hell free” card! I just needed to keep loving God (whatever that meant), love others, attend church regularly, serve, give, keep a lid on the public sin in my life, and pray. I’d grown up in the church; I knew what was expected, and I did it. One more beige Christian parked in the pews waiting for my weekly fill-up.
I don’t blame my church, or my parents, or the Christian schools – they taught me truth and loved me well. I didn’t even know I had a problem to blame anyone for. I just thought that’s all there was to it – that that’s what it meant to be a Christian. It was a sensible faith. God was close enough to be a comfort, but distant enough to not be terribly inconvenient.”
Quoted from About the Author in, The 10 Second Rule
So, whether “I’ve been a Christian all my life” is your story, or you came to faith at Camp Winamonka somewhere when you were a kid;
Here’s my question for you: Do you believe you too have your “get out of hell free” card and what has that done to hinder your spiritual growth?
When you came to my website, I stated that I’ll only post weekly – on Mondays. I’m going to violate that, first shot out of the box. In the interest of continuity, I’ll post the second half of my story tomorrow, on Tuesday. Then I’ll wait for your feedback until next Monday.