I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time now, but I always get scared about showing my weaknesses and my insecurities online… especially when it comes to my faith. Don’t we all? No one likes being vulnerable. To be honest, I am usually quite wary about posting anything Christian related. Today though, I want to be completely real.
Ever since I left the Philippines to go to Penn State for my college years, my faith got stronger. Weird, right? I went to Penn State, a public secular university, believing that I would lose sight of God and get involved in the party scene. I was afraid to leave the Philippines, a country that is dominantly Catholic where I went to a Catholic school and where I regularly attended Sunday Masses. I honestly thought I would distance myself from God by leaving, but boy was I wrong.
Penn State was the last place I thought I’d find God, and it was there where He found me. I found truth, grace, and love. I was hungry for righteousness and thirsty for spiritual milk. I wanted to learn anything and everything there was to learn about the man and God who was dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing. My fellowship helped me a great deal in this as they fed me the gospel and left me wanting for more of Jesus. I’ve heard the same stories I’ve heard of in the past, but this time they made sense to me. They clicked. Bible studies and Wednesday worship nights blew my mind every week. I felt as though a veil was removed from my eyes. There was so much to this guy named Jesus. So much. He became my passion, and it got to the point where there was nothing I could talk about but Jesus. It was amazing.
I wish I could stay like that forever, but like all things, circumstances change. My walk has been fluctuating ever since. Whenever I go back to the Philippines, I find it harder to remain as faithful as I was when I was around my fellowship. It’s simply easier to be surrounded by other Christians who were so genuine in their faith. I was always so encouraged by them and the weekly meets and the accountability partnerships. Christians though, are not supposed to stay together. Francis Chan, an awesome pastor, once said that Christians are just like poop (yes, poop).
Put them together and they stink, spread them out and things will grow.
It was a great analogy. I’ve been finding it difficult, however, to be far from my fellowship. I feel far from God. I think somewhere along the way, I built my foundation on my fellowship and not on God… and I need to fix that. I don’t want to fall back to my old pattern, the pattern I walked on before I knew Jesus. I’m scared.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
Everything I’ve written above the Psalm was written 10 months ago. It was unfinished because I didn’t know how to end it. There was so much fear, so much temptation to return to the old way of life. The temptations now have not changed, but the fear, however, waned as my faith grew stronger. When we are in the middle of the desert, all we want to do is leave…is to give up. We never wonder or think that it is maybe in the desert where God wants us.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)
Suffering has a great way of refining us and turning us more like Christ. Like Jesus, we trudge on and continue to rely on God. Jesus Christ was probably the most dependent man on earth. He trusted God. He was always in communion with His Father… in spite of the pain and suffering and in spite of how busy He was (Can you imagine his schedule of teaching and healing?). Therefore I encourage anyone who’s in a dry season, to stay in the Word. More often than not, God wants to reveal something to us… an idol maybe? Our pride? Whatever it is, God wants us to keep pressing in. Ask for more faith. Ask for more encounters with Him. Ask Him to reveal your sin… Don’t stop praying. That’s the last thing He wants. Just because you mess up, doesn’t mean you have to fix yourself before coming back to Him. He wants you as you are. Real, authentic, and messy.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)
Ten months ago, I idolized my fellowship… so when it was uprooted or removed from me, I was helpless and weak in my faith. My circumstances with the fellowship determined my walk with the Lord, but can’t you see how unstable that is? Once it was taken away, I began to fall apart. This is what happens when our idols are removed.
We are all enslaved by something…money, fame, and power are a few of the big ones. And when we put our security in something so uncertain, it will disappoint us in the long run when it is taken away.
God meets us in places where we least expect Him to show up. If you’re thinking God’s not present because of your present suffering, try looking at the bigger picture. God is weaving your story to create you and shape you to become the perfect child that He created you to be. He hates suffering, but He allows it. He turns it and makes good things come out of it. Resist temptation and be strong and you’ll find yourself stronger and wiser in the end. C.S. Lewis once touched on this in Mere Christianity when he said:
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.
Build your faith and your foundation on a solid rock and not on sinking sand. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run the race. Let’s do this together!