When I was 16 I decided that I didn’t want to be a Christian anymore. I say decided, but really it was just something that happened over a period of time. I am sure that there are many things that played a role, but regardless; at some point when we turn from the Lord it is a decision that is made to say “No thank you. I think I would rather go this way instead.”
In hindsight, I believe that I never had a true encounter with God, or a relationship with Him. There is a big difference between “accepting Jesus into your heart” at the age of 5 and actually loving the Lord with your whole heart, and knowing Him personally. Mix this with teenage politics, the longing to be accepted, and the idea that I would live forever… and it makes for a perfect life that doesn’t include God- especially when you have this unexplainable desire to be a rebel with out a cause.
I remember thinking many times in my high school and college days that I could wait to get my life together, and that God would still be there when I was ready. True. Dangerous, but true. The reality is that God is there, waiting, willing and accepting when we call, and He takes us just the way we are… but what an injustice we are doing to ourselves. What a way to cheapen the mercy and grace that He has given us. What a way to exchange an amazing life with God, for a temporary high on earth.
I can tell you that I wouldn’t trade in my relationship with God, and the life that has given me for anything. Sure, I had lots of great times in high school and college, but many of those moments have left me with pain and hurt that I am still dealing with today. It is always easy to look ahead and say “I will get things right when…” but, I will tell you that when that time comes, it will be hard... and the further and further your journey becomes, the harder it is to turn around and travel back. I had to turn from a lot of habits, mindsets, and people… and it was agonizing.
One of the giants that kept me from returning to God, time and time again, was the idea that I had to have it “all together”. Sometimes we get this idea that if we can’t be perfect, and come to God with all our crap worked out, then there is no point in coming to Him at all. That is a lie. There is something to be said about moving forward, and little by little overcoming our weaknesses, but unlike man, God asks us to come as we are, and be who we are- right now. If we were required to have everything all tidy and nice, then we would never have a relationship with Him… because, whether you want to believe this or not- you will never be perfect. Just sayin’.
David was a gawky teenager who had faith in God, and believed that because He had his back in times before, that there was no reason why He wouldn’t be there for Him in any situation. He asked to take a shot at Goliath, and although Saul said ok, he tried to dress him up in armor that did not suit him. David tried to move in it, and could barely walk. He took it off, and ran to the battle line --- just as he was. In the comfort of who he was. (1 Sammy 17)
I have learned that it is hard to walk through life when we aren’t comfortable in who we are. It is difficult to be effective, and grow in our relationship with God when we are trying to be perfect, before we even allow Him to change us through circumstance and experience. It is hard to extend grace and mercy to others- and accept them for who they are- when we can’t find acceptance in ourselves.
When we wait for everything to be in order before we come to God, it is like David and his ill-fitting armor. It weighs us down, and hinders us from even taking the first step. When we realize that we are all a work in progress, and that God wants to be in relationship with us for who we are, it allows us to take off the armor and run to Him.
And, in my case, I get to run all awkwardly, with my feet hitting my butt, and arms whipping to and ‘fro… and I've learned, that's o.k.