I think that one of the biggest struggles for Christian women and men is maintaining an authentic and driven relationship with Christ. There are a lot of things we value. We have friends, family, children, jobs, households, laundry, cars, dreams, books, relationships, fitness goals, money (or lack thereof), and guilt complexes. Sometimes it feels like God is just another thing on that list.
About six months ago, I realized it had been a while since I’d read through the book of Romans; and by a while, I mean I can’t remember reading through the whole thing since I was 15 or 16. I probably shouldn’t admit that, because I am a Bible college student, but if I’m not honest, then what value do my words really have? So to complete my honest beginnings, I should also tell you that I have studied theology for the last five years and I still cannot regularly pick up my Bible and spend time with my God. This part of my life has been a journey over the last five years, and I want to continue to be honest about it because I know how frustrating it feels when it seems like everyone but me has this part of their life figured out. The reality is that not everyone does, and when we admit this we give ourselves opportunities to encourage each other as we walk this journey together.
Certainly the men and women I admire most are those who are warriors of prayer and constantly have scripture running off of their lips. But I get the sense that there are more of us who are striving to attain to that idea than who are actually achieving it. I was lamenting this to God recently, and I came upon Romans 11. Here Paul talks about how the Israelites and the Gentiles are both allowed into the kingdom of God. Many Jews at the time did not believe Jesus was the Saviour, but they were still offered mercy. They still had the love of their Father. Verses 28-29 say: They are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. I felt peace at these words. It felt like God was saying, “I have given you what you need. I have called you. That will never change. I know you love me. I have forgiven you. You are free. Stop feeling so guilty. Breathe. Come back. Listen and hear my love for you. I am always here.“
It was incredibly freeing. After all, if God has kept his promise to the Israelites, some of whom still do not accept him, how much more secure can we be in his promise to us, which we have accepted? Ever since reading these words, I have been actively working to stop feeling guilty. I will never stop striving to be a better woman and a better Christian. But feeling guilty for not doing something I feel like I’m supposed to do is simply damaging. Instead, I have been trying to replace those feelings of guilt with feelings of peace. Often it looks like a prayer:
God, I am taking a deep breath in this moment. I breathe in your Spirit. I breathe out your peace. You are always here. Thank you. Amen.
It almost seems too simple. But it’s one step closer to God, and one step farther from where I was. And in this season of life, that’s good enough for me.
So to you who are frustrated with your inability to open your Bible or remember to pray, I say: breathe. One step at a time. God never said giant leaps were required. He is with you.
To you who are weary in your faith, I say: rest. You are indeed running a race, but let Christ be your refuge. He has given you what you need.
And to you who are strong in your faith, whose lips constantly speak the peace of the gospel, and whose grace gives us hope, I ask you: pray for us. Pray for us who are yet young in our faith, pray for us who are weary.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Response Song: You’ll be Glad by Andrea Marie Reagan
Contributed by Rebekah Hagan