My faith has been a long journey. I was not always a Christian, though I tried to be a good person. I was taught right from wrong and a good understanding of respect for others. My grandmother gave me a Bible of my own and I read it often, though I didn’t always understand. It wasn’t until later in life I fully gave my heart to Jesus and accepted him as my Lord and Savior.
I always wanted to belong to a church, and I finally joined one in the small community I grew up in. It was not my first choice for a church, but it was close and I knew some of the folks there were really good Christians. Soon, I learned that even in church all was not perfect. Soon, I learned the difference between Christians and pew dwellers.
We all sin, we all fall short, we all struggle. Some admit it, some don’t. It was difficult for me to accept that even Christians had serious flaws. But I also knew Jesus healed the sinners and made them want to sin no more. I knew I had to keep my eyes on Jesus, but sometimes I faltered and didn’t. I was a sinner who needed healing.
I moved out of that community to return to my home. I gave up on churches for a while. I visited some other denominations, but none of them felt right. Then one Sunday morning, I walked into my present church and knew I was home.
I volunteered, I attended every Sunday, I went to a Sunday School class. Going to church was something I loved. I loved God and the people in the pews. There was nothing I liked better than to serve the Lord, and eventually I was hired as the Office Manager. It felt right.
Fast forward seven years. A series of heart breaking experiences within the church have questioned my belief in the “church” itself. Oddly enough, my faith has grown stronger into a relationship with God that keeps my hope renewed. He is my Rock. Without him I am nothing. He has picked me back up every time I have fallen. My faith stays strong. In the midst of dissension, God has given me grace and a stronger, deeper love for him.
Yet, I am struggling. I have once again seen how human nature and the devil can sneak into a church and play havoc. The devil is a sneaky bastard, make no mistake. He’s crafty and mean, and he likes getting into the pews every Sunday. He likes getting into the people sitting there, getting into their heads and hearts.
In my eyes, I am seeing a slow motion movie play before me. The characters look familiar, they look like Christians, they say they’re Christians, but the stones are flying and no one is safe. Slowly, they stone each other to death, and at the end of this movie, no one is standing. I’m watching it play out before me and I don’t know how to stop it. My body is bruised and bloodied from the fresh wounds of stones against my own flesh. And I just stand there, waiting for the stones to stop, but they don’t. I don’t know how to stop others from getting hurt, either. There are just too many stones.
Sometimes I think there are too many pew dwellers; they outnumber the Christians 2:1. The devil dances with them during sermons, whispering in their ears so they won’t hear the message from God. He promises them pride, power, and a religion of their own making.
I also know the devil does not like prayer. He seeks to destroy those who call on God, those who praise God’s name. Yes, that devil is crafty and mean, and he makes the pew dwellers crafty and mean, but he is no match for the power of prayer and God’s saving grace.
So I pray. There’s nothing else I know to do but pray. I will pray for the pew dwellers, and I will pray for God’s people. I will pray for unity and love and for the stones to stop being thrown. I will pray for kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to replace all the stones being thrown. I will pray for that Christian love like Jesus gave to us.
Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, people are people. We mess up, we fall down, we get back up, we forgive, we love, we hate, we fight, we laugh, we cry, and we do it all over again. It is so easy to point the finger at someone else and blame the troubles of the world, and the church, on them.
I’m praying for a church I can call home again. Where I feel safe, loved, and respected. I believe it can happen. With God, all things are possible.
My faith journey has only begun.
Take care of you.