“Clueless in Christendom”

Dear inamirrordimly,

I’ve been a Christian for many years now, and I still haven’t got a clue! Saved at an early age, I grew up reading the Bible and learning about God, Jesus and what I was supposed to live like. In my teens, life got complicated. People and social forces entered into the picture. I got shook and my picture of God went from someone I prayed to and read about, to someone I needed to help me unravel life. In my late teens I went on several missions trips, and saw that this God I serve can use an unworthy vessel.

As I coasted into my twenties, I went from plateau to plateau, constantly besting my own high score in the realms of knowledge of spiritual things. Somehow though, I found that my life became more and more confusing. Pointless and frivolous, my ecclesiastical side would remind me. Your life is devoid of meaning. These spiritual issues became nothing but so much knowledge, ever expanding the vacuum of meaning inside as they pushed forward the philosophical frontiers of my soul exposing areas of untapped worry and concern. My outward facade remained unchanged, however, as I dutifully lived out my calling to be happy in all things. Then, my face began to change. At first it was just a subtle twitching of my left eye. Then my lower lip began to quiver. Then I couldn’t be happy anymore. I was just plain sad. I was sad at life, my empty life. Meaning was just an illusion, a dream for only a select few missionaries. All my Christian friends had problems. They felt the same way I did, I grew to realize, only with different levels of self-awareness. Add to my life marriage and children, which only seemed to compound the dualistic nature of my distress. I found my spouse saw right through any attempts to patch the holes in my sinking spiritual ship. Also discovered is that in wrestling through raising children, all the things that I thought mattered, really don’t at all. So… here I am, an empty shell, in need, spiritually impoverished.

Please offer your guidance.

Sincerely,

“Clueless in Christendom”

2 thoughts on ““Clueless in Christendom”

  1. Pat

    Josh, your transparancy and vulnerabilty in sharing your current spiritual condition are greatly appreciated. Your comments caused me to recall a line from A.W. Tozer that at the time made no sense to me: "God cannot greatly bless a man until He has deeply hurt him." This kind of thinking seems to fly in the face of some present day theologies that would imply that God would want us happy and prosperous all the time, or that He can be explained at every point by a short listing of Scriptural proof texting.
    Your melancholy & disillusionment puts you in good company, from Elijah in the OT who " prayed that he might die" 1 Kings 19:4 to Paul in the NT who "despaired even of life" (2 Cor. 1:8), (not to mention countless other prophets & saints). Hardship, trials and suffering do not always make for popular sermon topics, but if we are going to walk the narrow road we can be sure that we will run into all these things in our journey. Knowing that they are coming might not make the experiences any less painful, but it can provide encouragment in knowing that they can produce the results that God desires them to produce (James 1:2-4). We can take great comfort in the fact that God, even in promising us a difficult life in a world that will hate us (John 15:19), at the same time promises us life(John 6:33), joy (John 17:13) and peace(John 14:27) in the midst of it.
    Our circumstances might not change on earth, but,for the redeemed, neither do they change in heaven, where we "have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) Clearly we live in an "already, but not yet" scenario that can potentially get the best of the best of us. As we wait for " the glory to be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18), we can look to the Word of God to learn more of the immutable character & nature of our Heavenly Father to provide an anchor for our unsettled souls. Our present climate of pluralism, complete with a myriad of humanistic, atheistic and existential philosophies would try and lead believers away from trusting in a God who has revealed much objective truth to His creation in His holy Word. The Enemy of our souls will go to great lengths(and is) to try and produce thoughts in our mind that would cause us to question the trustworthiness of our God . Scripture clearly paints an encouraging picture for us of those who lived with" a faith in the Scriptural facts" as Miles Stanford wrote, great enough to live out the Christian life to the point of laying down their for the kingdom. Maybe the secret to all this confusion (I’m not referring to yours but all of ours!) is just that simple and spelled out clearly in Scripture. " I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20)

  2. Ed

    Let me see if I read you correctly. What I think I’m hearing is:

    I’ve read the books
    I’ve said the prayers
    I’ve thought the thoughts
    I’ve done the deeds
    and all I have left is _____________________

    Meaning and purpose (and possibly significance, eh?) in life seem to be what you’re after in a sense. From a Christian perspective we could ask, "What does it mean to be a Christian or a follower of Christ?"

    Do you read the Bible?
    Do you avoid certain behaviors?
    Do you read certain books and listen to certain music?
    Do you practice certain disciplines?
    Do you go to a place with other Christians once a week and leave 1-2 hours later?

    I think Pat is on to something with his closing words about living by faith in the Son of God. Somehow, somewhere that’s where our life is. But if Jesus is saying, "Abide in me," I want to ask, "How?"

    Often having trouble falling asleep at night, I find myself pondering the value of my past day, how worthwhile the next will be, and what God is up to. In typical American fasion, I want to infuse meaning into my life without the sacrifice, I want the book, program, prayer, whatever to give my life the sweetness of divine significance. But then I think of Brother Lawrence who prayed to God while washing pots and pans at his monastary. The last time I washed a pot for work was when I was 16, but this guy seems to captured what I have been looking for.

    The best thing that we can grasp for in this life is a relationship with God. Having said that, I’m not quite sure how to best go about this. I think that is where we end up feeling empty. We’ve read the Bible a lot, but feel like we got the bait and switch, expecting Him and getting a theology. We sing the songs, but only get emotional. We pray the prayers, but only feel like we’ve made a shopping list for God.

    So where is God found? In stillness and silence? In the pages of the Bible? In fasting and prayer? Perhaps it depends who you are and where you are at. My one thought is to open yourself to God in ways that you have never tried before. Whether it’s meditative/centered prayer or finding a field to walk in during the evening, perhaps you need to create new spaces where you can meet up with God. And it’s not like there’s a magic bullet here. I think God is on the move. One season he may be in a prayer journal, the other season he may be found in silence. I hope this doesn’t sound like manipulation of God to get something. I’m aiming more toward creating space so God can do his thing.

    That’s where I’m at. I hope this helps a bit, but of course I may be wrong!

Comments are closed.