My husband and friend have been exchanging emails about various people’s experiences with God and religion. Stories were shared from various views – some from atheists, some from Christians. It made me think about my own story and made me want to write it down!
I was blessed to have parents who took me to church from birth and instilled in me the values and beliefs that I still draw on today. The church tradition I grew up in is known for children with deep Bible knowledge, and I am thankful for the hours I spent in Sunday school learning Bible stories. My understanding of God for the first few decades of my life was very black and white. I believed the Bible provided clear answers to all of life’s tough questions. My main concern was “doing” — doing the right things and not doing the bad things.
In college I first experienced a true relationship with God. I began attending church and studying the Bible because I wanted to and not just because I was supposed to. My new passion for God combined with my legalistic church history, and I became concerned with what others were doing – explaining to them what they were doing wrong and trying to convince them to do what was right. (I still cringe when I think about that!)
My thirties have been marked by refinement, both of me and of my beliefs. I’m finding that refinement is a rewarding but painful process! God is working on me in many different areas. It’s hard to sum them all up, so I’ll just bullet point a few.
First and most importantly, God is teaching me to be more concerned with loving and less with doing. This will be a lesson I am forced to learn and relearn until I die. I really stink at this, and I feel like I’ve barely begun to learn what this means. He’s teaching me that He sees me as loved and forgiven even when I make wrong choices. He’s teaching me to love people instead of trying to evangelize them. All of this is so hard for me, because “doing” is deeply ingrained in who I am.
Second, God is giving me glimpses of Heaven. More and more I long to be there. I want to be in perfect relationship with God. I want to experience Him without the barrier of sin in the way. I love the thought of being in a place where I will never sin again! I’m looking forward to the exploration and learning and teaching that will happen there. I’m excited about the jobs I will be given and the roles I will play. No pain. No sadness. No death. I. Can’t. Wait.
Bizarrely, God has given made me into an advocate for science. I grew up with a young-Earth view of the universe (the view that the Earth is only 6,000 years old), so science often made me uncomfortable, because it demonstrates over and over that the Earth is actually much older. After a long and painful process, I let go of that belief, and the end result has been incredibly rewarding. I have discovered how perfectly science upholds what the Bible says about the universe. I’ve learned about the mind-boggling fine-tuning of the universe and the care that was taken to make it inhabitable by humans. I’ve also become increasingly frustrated with how the young-Earth view serves as a barrier that can keep the scientifically-minded from considering the Bible.
Most recently, God is awakening in me the desire to serve the poor and the orphaned. I lived much of my life in comfortable middle-class oblivion, never realizing how different my life experience is from the majority of the world’s population. As I learn about the suffering that occurs every day all over the world, I am being forced to reexamine my views on money, possessions, and how I spend my time.
That, in a nutshell, is how God is working on me right now. I’m excited to see how He changes and teaches me in the next decade!