Why I’m still a Christian

I’ve written around this theme before but can’t find the posts to tag them. I am writing this now because I have been given an journaling exercise that is post-heroic. And I’m doing it without pictures for a change

I “became a Christian”, as the phrase was then, because I met something that amazed and astonished me. Yes I was lonely. I had just had my son and was living with someone who wasn’t his father in a house with other people. It was not a safe time. But something inside me was urging me to change. Some well-meaning Christians came along and knocked on my door. I went to their coffee morning and then I went to their church. I experienced an amazing spiritual encounter where I know that I met with the God who made the universe who told me He loved me and felt like I was being covered in a viscose glittery substance. I have since been told that was a Holy Spirit encounter. To me, at that time, it was like meeting the entity that made me, made my world, looked deep into who I was and how I was living and said “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”
Since that time I read the Bible loads, studied Christian doctrine, theology, right ways to be a Christian, been on mission, led prayer journeys and set up prayer groups, done all that stuff and in doing it totally agreed with the U2 song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” I’ve blogged on this and pondered this. I’ve tried to tame the mystery even though I know in my head “he is not a tame lion.”
I have reached a point in my Christian life where I am no longer wanting to be heroic, no longer wanting to tame the lion, understand the mystery. I have seen God let me down by letting people I know and love die with horrendous timing so that anniversaries of untimely deaths come at a time when we are trying to celebrate birthdays. I have seen God not come through on some dream that I believed He had promised me we would fulfil together. I have been angry and hurt and let down when it felt as if the mystery of God had turned out to be hollow.
Today I turn a corner. No that’s way too dramatic. Today I have decided to let the mystery out of the box and fly. I may never experience the viscous covering again, may never have a request answered as I like, but I know I have reached a point where I want to just hang out with the mystery, where I just want to be with whatever it is that I have tried to box as God.
So I’m still a Christian because I have decided that just as I don’t need all the answers neither does God need to tell them all to me; just as I don’t need to get it right all the time neither does God have to do what I think is right. I might even stop doing but learn to start practising and start just being. Not in that cheesy “oh I’m a human being not a human doing” but in that way that says it’s ok to just be me and for God to just be God, and for other people to just be who they are.
So I am still a Christian because there are no answers, no right ways, no clear paths but I do know that even through those dark paths the mystery that I call God is more than happy to walk with me and all my whinging and moaning and He still says “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”

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I Never Promised …

beautiful-rose-garden-romantic-red-roses-garden-benchWhilst at the Interweave gathering in Dublin last week someone stood up and prophesied what I believe to be words of Jesus:

I never promised you a rose garden but I did promise never to leave or forsake you (Marie)

We then went on to sign a song with the words:

Power in Your presence

Hope and Healing in Your presence

Freedom in Your presence

There are loads more words than that and the title has fallen out of my head so I haven’t hqdefaulteven been able to look it up. So for those worship leaders out there do leave a comment if you recognise the song.

What stuck me was that it is only in His presence, in the presence of God/Jesus, that we will find power, hope, healing and then freedom. How often, even as Christians, we try to get all the hope we want from our own self-reliance, from trying to big it up somehow. There is no hope of being healed if we do not let ourselves come fully and unhindered into God’s presence. So how do we know when that has happened?

religion252520belief252520god252520does252520heart252520surgeryI was thinking the how question because for one I am a practical person and there is no point me knowing something but not knowing the how answer, but also during the same Interweave gathering there was a lot of talk of God doing heart surgery on us and I came to realise that was very different for everyone. For one of our number she said she was shouting loudly as God did what He was doing, for another she said it was just a quiet knowing, for myself I just sort of realised afterwards because I felt different that God had changed my heart. So how do we know if and when we are in God’s presence?

I would say we know we are in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit when we can feel our hearts getting healed even if we want to hold on to our grief; we can feel that freedom of being totally open and honest with ourselves; we can feel a new hope arising where we felt all hope had gone; we can see a new vision growing that does not come from our own p1902_health-vision1making but connects with our own desires and we feel we can do it even if we are still  hurting and grieving. In the presence of the Holy Spirit we no longer to to worry about what the world thinks. We can grieve what is gone and will never return but we can have hope inside that says we can keep walking. We just know our desires are ok.

I believe all this comes from being in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. This can come when we are alone but if we are really hurting it is easier for it to come corporately because the openness of others to God helps us to know we are safe to be open. But also we do need to keep coming back to being in that place, to allowing God’s presence to hold our hearts. It is all too easy once having been in that place to move away from it then the old stuff shuffles around and tries to get back in. Like that 194178bea0e90776e8222c14f865bebcold dog that lies waiting for us to let it in. The hard bit isn’t what God does with us but staying in a place with Him once the corporate has gone and letting Him continue.