Uncertainty

What would my life be without God?

For years, I have struggled with the nagging fear that maybe, just maybe, God isn’t really there.

The fear says I’ve convinced myself of the whole thing. And my life is finite.

I expressed this fear (read: broke down on the way to church) one Sunday with my parents when I was about 18. They told me that arguments about science, logic and philosophy can go on forever, but the major thing that convinced them of their faith was the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

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1 Corinthians 2:22 is just one of the verses I found referring to the Holy Spirit as a ‘deposit in our hearts’.

I listened, I believed them, I found the Bible verses to back it up, I prayed and I waited.

I waited for that sure-fire conviction that I KNEW the Holy Spirit was in my heart.

For six years.

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Photo by Dianne Hope, sourced from Morguefile

Don’t get me wrong, I was pretty sure. Hey, I was a church leader. I was mentoring a brand-new Christian. I’d based my entire life around this belief.

But that fear nagged, and whined, and whinged.

Then a series of events occurred in the lives of some adults I’d grown up around. Very disappointing, disillusioning events. ‘Hypocrite’ is the nicest word I can think of.

And that whisper of a fear became more than a whisper.

Finally, one day in March this year, I was driving home from work. And I was sick of it. I had non-Christian workmates who were better people than the ‘Christians’ I’d grown up trusting. So what was the point of God? I’d been looking for that certainty from Him for 6 years, and I’d been a Christian my entire life. What was the point?

As I pulled into my driveway that afternoon, I said this to God:

“I feel like I’ve been hanging onto you by my fingertips for months now. Well, this is me letting go. It’s up to you to catch me.”

Then I went inside and had a completely normal evening.

But over the next few weeks, something changed inside. At random moments, I’d get a mental flash of what my life would be like at that moment if I didn’t know God.

And it wasn’t pretty.

Without God, my life would end at death. At 25,  I’m already ¼ (if I’m lucky) of the way there.

Just thinking about it, I can sense the wave of panic that would overwhelm me if that were true.

I would be tortured, wondering if I was missing out in life, if I was screwing up my one chance, if I should do something different, live somewhere different, be something different. And that’s just worrying about my happiness levels. What about things that really matter, like making a difference in someone else’s life? What impact would I leave behind?

(And worst of all, the question of vegetarianism. If I really believed I came from an evolutionary chain of animals, could I eat one? Not in good conscience. But they taste pretty awesome.)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of worries that would overwhelm me if my life on earth was all there was.

The point is, with God, I know I have hope. I know I have purpose. I know there’s such thing as truly unselfish, sacrificial, perfect love. Endless forgiveness. I know that my life, experiences and sufferings all have meaning, nothing is in vain.

And that was the beginning of this year’s journey.

I’ll share more of it next week. 🙂

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Freedom in Identity

Who am I?

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

It’s something we’re supposed to figure out in our twenties, but in my case it keeps changing.

This time last year I was a journalist, I had just finished my third trip overseas and I was surrounded by terrific friends that I’d grown up with. I was also about to embark on a new adventure in a larger town. Pretty exciting.

Fast forward twelve months. Some awesome things have happened; I’ve written a book, started this blog, worked in a completely new job, met different people and settled into my new home.

But at the same time, at the moment it looks like my journalism career could be over. My book is still a long way from being published, and this is a fairly new blog so I don’t have thousands of readers hanging off my every word. And tonight (New Year’s Eve) all my friends are busy or out of town. So I’m just planning to pick up some of my favourite food on the way home and spend the night on the couch with two of my favourite men, Hamish and Andy. (To my international readers, they are Australian comedians – and some of the funniest guys ever.)

Suddenly I don’t sound quite so awesome.

Look ahead another twelve months. Things could go either way. I could land a journo job, get a publishing contract, and have a full social calendar. Or I could not.

But the thing is… none of these circumstances are in my control.

So why should they affect my identity? Short answer: they shouldn’t.

It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but every now and then I need to remind myself. My identity is in God. I belong to Him. Nothing more, nothing less. I can’t get depressed or puffed up about my position in life, because I know that it can all change. And there’s freedom in that.

If my identity isn’t found in my career, writing or friends, then I’m not afraid to change jobs, move towns, and start working from the bottom up on my writing. I’m not restricted.

So before I look ahead to 2014 and completely freak out that I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not where I thought I would be, I can stop and take a breath. It’s okay. I’m valuable to God either way.

The Israelites didn’t know what would happen when they left Egypt, and they had several pretty big freak-outs. But God always came through. They only ever came unstuck when they refused to trust Him.

So I now have a reminder stuck up on the wall next to my bed. It’s in the form of a question.

“What’s the point of trust and faith if I never use it?”