As a child, I always had so many questions about the world and I was always thinking about deep concepts like how things were made and what life is about. I loved thinking about the 5 senses and was so amazed at how everything in the human body functioned. I remember when I was in the car, I would look out the window and think Why did God create me? How did he create me? Is there more to life than just… life? It amazes me now, how much I questioned deep things like this at such a young age. But because I had so many questions, I found faith at a young age too, as the Bible had answered a lot of my questions particularly about creation and heaven vs hell. I was baptized at age 9 and I remember how strong my faith was. I was eager to learn more about God and with God because I thought it would help me understand and make more sense of the world.
When I went into middle school however, I looked to the world and became more confused with how broken and terrible it can be. At this point, most of my questions were why does God let terrible things happen? I thought God was good. I didn’t have a relationship with Him, but the little bit of faith in my heart was telling me that God was still good. I knew that he was real and that he was good, but I didn’t have any reasons; I just believed because it was all I knew.
In high school I developed a mindset that a relationship with Christ is one that is an exchange of obedience and reward. I wanted to please him by being a good person because I was afraid of what he would do in my life if I did something bad or committed sin, so I disciplined myself thinking God would love me and give me what I want if I’m good. So when I didn’t get the college results I anticipated, I thought God where is my reward? I have studied and done well in school, why aren’t you giving me the opportunities that I dreamed of? Many friends moved away, and I hated God for it, telling him God you give me wonderful people in my life for just a little bit and then you take them away! What did I do wrong? I became frustrated with God about things that hadn’t gone as I planned, and my prayers became selfish and resentful, blaming God for how miserable I felt when he wasn’t giving me what I wanted. The world didn’t make sense and the Bible didn’t make sense to me anymore. I hated that the world was so broken and terrible and I no longer saw any answers in the Bible that answered my questions of why the world was this way. My life was good, but my faith was almost nonexistent because I walked away from God, thinking my life didn’t make sense with Him in the picture.
Then I went to college where I came across a program called YoungLife, and I walked away from it thinking, I know about God, I don’t need an outreach program to tell me things I already know. But God transformed my heart by sending me to YoungLife camp. The speaker at this camp told a story about his relationship with his 4 year old daughter. He took her to a Disney on Ice show as a surprise for her birthday, dressed up, drove for hours, and bought her overpriced popcorn. During the show he whispers to her daughter, “Guess what?… I love you”. She whispered back, “Guess what?… I want more popcorn!”.
This expresses how my relationship with God had been for 10 years. God had repeatedly told me in my life through his blessings, “I love you”. And the only times I prayed were when things weren’t going the way I wanted. I was ignoring the thousands of times he has told me “I love you” in the events of my life, through nature, through people, and especially through the Bible. I didn’t understand the Bible because I never understood the power and the depth of God’s love. That night I went outside after the meeting and prayed under the stars in the middle of the night and for the first time in my life I went on my knees and I wept to God and prayed to Him for the first time in a long time– a true prayer. And that night I heard Him whisper in my ear, “I love you… you can either choose to live with the world or live with me.”
Choosing to live with God meant that I would live differently than what I desire for myself, but I know that it is better to live for God because I am serving the one who has saved the world! And there is no greater joy than knowing His love and living to share it with others for Him. What humanity wants to hear is that someone loves us, and we are looking for love through other things which results in the brokenness of the world. The world is broken because the world does not know about Jesus! I love Jesus because He loves me, and I want to share that love by loving them the way Jesus did. (1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us)
I think people get so caught up in how we ourselves and other people are obedient or disciplined based on “religion”, which is what I was guilty of. But in times like this I catch myself and think, Jesus would love them above judging, and God is the only one who knows the condition of anyone’s heart. So I need to love them too, like Jesus does. The Bible is not a book about rules and discipline, but rather about LOVE and what stems from true love.
I was selfish to think that God would reward me for being obedient and disciplined, but now I live in a way that glorifies Him because HE is good, and without Him, I am nothing. I now see God through everything in my life because I have finally given it to Him. He is constantly moving people like He has moved me. He has given me and continues to give me endless opportunities that show His goodness, and it is truly indescribable how much He is capable of doing. I still have little faith, but I am eager and excited to see what God is able to do in my life and to those around me. All my life I had been searching for the world to make sense… and I finally can say with confidence that the world only makes sense when you let God take over your life and show you.
Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.