I think at one point or another, each of us struggles with our faith. Regardless if it’s the result of an event, the influence of another person, or even just spending too much time in our own heads, it can lead us to questions that seem impossible to answer.
This can happen at any age in life and when not given enough attention, the phase can last multiple seasons, even several years for many individuals. These periods of time can produce drastic effects on our attitudes and behaviors. They have the ability to change the way we act and respond to both situations and circumstances. A loss of faith can be powerful enough to tear families apart and end life-long friendships. Even worse, they create separation with God.
This summer has been difficult for me. It has been a while since my trust and love for Jesus has been this strong. However, I can’t help but notice the effects of my faith losing its importance and significance in my daily life. God has blessed my family in ways I would have never imagined just six months ago. It has resulted in a daily schedule that has been busier than I have ever experienced.
During the first week of June, I had the life I have dreamed of for several years now. I was making great money writing from my office at home. I was well over halfway through writing a daily meditation book that more than one publisher had an interest in. And I was about a month away from an associates degree in theology at the rate I was working. Life was definitely good.
I left my wife and daughter in southeast Texas and returned to northern Indiana, where I had been raised and spent the majority of my life. It had been a while since I had seen family and I needed to go home for a few days. My wife and I have always talked about leaving Texas and moving north, but it was always something we were going to do in the future when the time was right. Little did I know, my short visit would turn into the perfect timing.
Recognizing God at Work
God presented us with an opportunity, but we had to act fast. We needed to make a decision on if we were willing to leave the life we had and move our family halfway across the country. As I write this article, my wife still has not seen the house in person which we decided to buy. Because there was some work we wanted to do on the house before moving, I returned to Indiana towards the end of July with my wife deciding to wait until the middle of September to make the move.
While it wasn’t originally part of the plan, it didn’t take long for me to return to work at the tool and die shop my mother owns. I spend all day working my tail off, spend a few hours in the evening working on our home, and then wrap things up either working on homework or writing for one of the websites I contribute to.
Becoming Too Busy For God
There has been no writing on the book that was close to being finished. Writing, in general, is a huge part of my personal relationship with Jesus. Here lately, it hasn’t been important enough to keep me up at night like it once did. My school work has suffered, when there is time to work on it. My prayers haven’t been as long and I am finally starting to miss the intimacy that I experience with God through a pen and a piece of paper.
After spending a few weeks trying to decide if the tool shop would be the focus of my future and there would even be a need to finish school and continue writing, I have finally gotten to the point I can’t stand it anymore. I am thankful for the paycheck I am able to work for and the comfort and support the money has provided for my wife, but God has shown me it’s not what He has had planned.
I woke up just last night at three in the morning with Jesus screaming at me,
“Are you going to use the opportunities and the talents I have given you to inspire my people or are you just going to absorb as much comfort as you can living what society considers a normal life?”
One of the bright spots about returning to the tool shop is the new friendships that have been developing with a few of the employees who were not there when I left Indiana in 2012. One, in particular, has caused me to spend a lot of time thinking about my relationship with God over the last ten days and the different periods of my life when I have struggled with my faith the most.
The Blessing Of One Man
This man that I spend time talking with a few hours every day grew up believing and loving Jesus and is a Catholic. Due to a few situations in life, including the events that took place on September 11, he has had a hard time believing some of the things that were instilled in him as a child and young adult. According to him, getting older has created a desire to believe in something and has led him to finally start looking for answers to some of his questions.
The few times we’ve talked about the matter has weighed on my mind more than he will ever know. You see, the problem is, I’m not a talker. I do my speaking with a paper and pen. Even as I sit here wanting more than anything to write something that will inspire him to seek God more than he ever has before, I still am not sure exactly what I want him to read and my suggested 1200 word limit is quickly approaching. Hold on a sec. I want to pray one more time. OK, here it goes.
My Answer to Inspire a Friend To Seek God: Faith Isn’t Simple
I don’t believe faith in Jesus was ever intended to be easy. I believe there are questions we are supposed to have that will never be answered on this side of eternity. That’s what keeps our faith honest and our dependence sincere. Yes, we serve a God who represents love, mercy, and grace. We also serve a jealous God according to His Word. He loves us more than we are able to comprehend. Because of this, I don’t believe there are limits that have been set when it comes to what He will do in order to get our attention.
While some people simply need to experience a blessing to believe, some of us need to be completely broken. God will often show us our need for Him whether we are looking for it or not. I don’t know what to say when it comes to explaining or justifying certain events that take place. I do know that one of the greatest blessings God has given His creation is free will. Just because there are people who use it to create evil and spread hate, doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist.
Serving Two Masters
While I didn’t live in New York, I was part of a team that was sent to Brooklyn. Our job was to work one-on-one with children who lost a parent in the terrorist attacks. I can’t remember a single word that I said to any of them. I have never experienced as much depression in my life as when I was working with these kids. That’s when I started making sure I was drinking enough to get blackout drunk every day. I didn’t want to remember any of it. God placed me in a position to point others towards the cross in their biggest time of need. I got scared. Drinking as much as I could in order to be comfortable became my daily routine. I left Americorps, wanting to live what society considered a normal life. Sound familiar?
As a result, I allowed an addiction to consume and dominate my life. I have teenage children who do not consider me as their father. Because of my drinking, I have been homeless and more than once asked someone for spare change. I have questioned the reality of God more in my life than anyone I know.
I have also learned when I stop asking God to prove that He is real and answer my questions and instead ask Him to allow me to experience true love, trust, and peace of mind, I have never had to spend much time looking for Him. The Holy Spirit is always right where I left Him. Inside my heart.