The Road That Leads to Me

A journey of faith: How I found God (for real)

This is something I wrote a few years ago…it is a self-reflection of sorts that re-counts my personal faith journey. This story makes me fairly vulnerable, but I think that true vulnerability is necessary in order to develop true faith. I hope that someone out there in the blogosphere will read my story and be able to relate…

A young woman is raised in a staunch Christian home. Piety nearly drains from her every pore. Years of Sunday school lessons fill her mind with notions of should and should not. Parental pressures coupled with a false sense of need has led her into a life of ministry. Daily she lives out the manifestations of that which has been built up to her as the only source of an abundant life. She is living out her symbolic complex. In earnest she prays to a God she does not know. Instead, she has spent her life developing a relationship with someone else’s God.

The assumptions surrounding the young woman hinge on her outward indicators of faith. However, the discrepancy between what is and what is supposed is great (Percy). The girl has not adopted faith, but rather an educational package­­­­ – the life, beliefs, and Christian environment created for her. The young woman has unconsciously allowed herself to use the eyes of a system, forfeiting her own by never having opened them. Though her life revolves around a religion, she is nothing but a spectator – never taking personal ownership of the mentality she is immersed in.

For quite some time the girl is quite unaware of her self-handicapped condition. Daily she moves her body through the motions entangled within the Christian lifestyle. Dutifully the young woman attends and serves in the church. Each Sunday she is greeted by warm smiles from familiar faces – people delighted to see one of their own “on the right track.” Perceived by many as an upstanding youth, the young woman’s mind no longer can separate truth about her character from the praise of others. As she is believed to be, so she is.

The image the young girl carries has been a lifelong development. Though initially formed from the beliefs of others, the girl adopts the lifestyle and adjoining mentality assumed of her. Reflexive and pharisaical, her actions direct her thinking. Driven by a humanly engineered model of faith, the girl conforms to the expected outcomes for her life. She strives to be that which she has been told to be.

Spiritual awakening, or the experience through which the individual recognizes their direct need for a deeper more personal faith, is the only means towards the end of recovery. Until the mind is able to separate tradition from belief and duty from desire, true connection with God is unachievable. However, many never recover from their self-victimized state of living. Complacency grips the soul. Historical and familial traditions replace the zealous fire God intends for His followers. Reliant on pastors and high-ranking church officials, contemporary church-goers have traded an intimate relationship with God for a relationship much like that between product and consumer. Unlike the pioneers of modern religion, today’s churchgoers accept another’s vision, rather than seeing through the eyes of their own mind.

Longing for quick fixes to life’s hassles, wanting to please family, and desiring to fill social needs, those attending the modern church sit with inverted eyes and empty hearts. Self has replaced God. Men and women pay lip service to their God in a form of misplaced concreteness. Deceived by their own selfishness, they do not recognize the ever-growing chasm between themselves and the Lord.

The young woman observed those around her – the comfortable faces she’d grown up with. Apathy clouded the room. A young man stood up and began to speak. Though the words came from his mouth, they seemed to flow straight from his heart. Vibrantly his eyes danced across the room, establishing the attention of each individual. His smile extended beyond his face. Scarcely unable to control the very pitch of his voice, he shared his story. The young man had discovered Jesus. Raised in an un-churched home, the young man was left to discover truth by his own power. Seeking out multiple religions and schools of thought, the young man told of the way he came to find a connection with the Lord. The young girl’s heart grew warm within her. Hearing many testimonies like that of the young man, the girl knew that a deeper love relationship with God was possible.

Aware that true satisfaction and abundant joy can only be found through a personal connection with God, the young girl began her pursuit. Walls dropped and blinders fell to the floor. Casting tradition aside, she began to question the doctrines surrounding her faith – testing them to see if they were her own. Her eyes were opened to a sight more beautiful than words can describe. No longer was the girl living vicariously through the faith of someone else. Intimacy with God coupled with amazing joy were discovered on the girl’s voyage towards discovery. God is out there. One need only to look.


The Problem of Evil:In Defense of a Theodicy
August 25, 2008, 4:49 am
Filed under: Christianity, philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , ,

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omni benevolent, and yet evil exists in the world. Is it possible for both premises to be concurrently true? This seeming paradox has plagued the minds of theologians, philosophers, and great thinkers of the times. Multiple responses have been made to the stated problem of evil, including a theodicy developed by John Hick referred to as “soul-making”. Hicks concludes that were evil to be non-existent, a form of higher good could not be achieved. It is to this end he infers, that God as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good being can justify the presence of evil in the world. However, many find fault in Hicks’s line of reasoning, presuming that the prevention of evil would not preclude ultimate goodness. The question of a solution is irrelevant. For it is not in the answer that we come to appreciate and develop our beliefs of God, but in the search.

In a world without evil and suffering, man could not truly understand good. If man’s true purpose is to grow in their relationship with God, he must undergo moral development. In order for humans to grow spiritually, they must live in an environment in which they are forced to make moral decisions. If God were to prevent evil from occurring, He would concurrently be preventing man from true free will. In a situation in which one does not have freedom to choose to do evil, he can never truly experience good. In this situation, man is under compulsion to do good, since he is prevented from doing otherwise. Therefore, the very notion of a moral and spiritual development of any type requires the presence of evil. In keeping with the notion of the necessity of evil in the world, one must consider the notion that one must feel adverse to evil in order to be a truly good being. How can one seek to avoid evil and fight against it when it has been prevented from existence? The God of the Bible seeks followers who are committed to Him, His cause, and in doing good. This type of follower could not be possible if humans had no conception of that which they were to stand against. Additionally, no human could possibly conceive of God’s greatness if he had nothing to contrast it with. God is worthy of human praise because He is holy and set apart. If humans existed in a world free of evil, God would no longer be set apart, ceasing to be above human nature, stripping Him of deity. It is to our advantage to understand God’s holiness and purposes for our lives. The greatest gift a human could receive is the personal relationship with God. This relationship would not be necessary if we had nothing to stand against. The role of the Christian is to be different. Therefore, it is to the greater good that evil exists. It is in this way that God as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good being can be justified in allowing evil to exist in the world.

While it is commonly accepted that a world void of all evil would prohibit a true understanding and existence of good, it is arguable that the prevention of some seemingly unjustifiable acts of evil would in no way cause the world to be void of all evil entirely. Many evil acts occur presumably randomly, affecting the innocent. Is it just for innocent lives to be harmed for the sake of moral development? Certainly, one cannot argue that acts of detestable violence and cruelty achieve a greater good. It is true that men must undergo moral development in order to experience life’s greatest happiness. To undergo moral development, evil must exist to allow man to make moral decisions. However, it does not make sense to say that an omni benevolent God would allow innocent lives to be unduly altered due to evil when preventing such acts would in no way cause evil to cease to exist.

The very notion of God implies something of a mystery. God’s ways and thoughts are above our own. It is towards this end that He is God, and we are not. It is ostentatious to say that certain acts of evil can be prevented while still being able to achieve a greater good. To say this would suppose knowledge of God’s plans and ultimate will. How can we as humans attempt to understand the mind of a holy being? It is in fact ridiculous to blame acts of evil on God. God in His goodness created a human race free to choose. Not desiring robotic followers, acting under compulsion, God created man with a free will to choose as he pleases. We as humans are free to follow God or to reject Him. While many people refrain from acts of raw evil, it would stand in the way of God’s plan of free salvation to prevent people from choosing to do so. People make their own choices. While God’s will for those people is not to do evil, it is in His will to give everyone the choice to choose Him or reject Him. It is towards this end, that evil acts are not to be blamed on God, for they do not conflict with His nature. Rather, they can serve as a testament to His nature. He is not a God of force. Instead, He is a God who seeks those who truly seek Him. The choice is ours. He does not make our choices for us. Therefore, it is perfectly rational to hold that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and that evil exists.

As long as time exists, the argument will exist. God will continue to be the subject of wars, debates, and endless theories. Logic and faith will continue to serve as springboards for responses. However, one must realize that God transcends logic, all human understanding, and the bounds of faith. We must be content with the search. There is no answer, only the questions.

Under a heavy load
July 14, 2008, 4:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

God often gives us a “truck-load” of burdens, and things we must carry  as we travel through life. These burdens and weights we must carry are often necessary to our existence and survival…things we are unable to drop. Often we don’t receive help, and the load can be heavy. However, as we move on, though often slowly and with pain, we slowly make progress…our “truck” keeps moving. We do what we have to do…going on even when it seems to hard, and that our weary bodies can’t move another inch. We must keep moving, knowing that the pain we are bearing now will lead to something else…something for our good. It is in these times that we must remember that ALL things work together for the good of those who love God. What seems unbearable in the moment is often a blessing in disguise…something we might not be able to see or understand, unless we are willing to assume God’s perspective and dare to look at our lives in an unconventional way. We CAN make it. Nothing we are given is beyond what we are capable of bearing. He may bend us, but He will not break us. We have to remember that if God is behind it, it is worth it. He heaps on us things that may be difficult, but which can also build our strength, determination, and faith in Him and His perfect plan. We must press on, forgetting what is behind, laying hold of the goal which is ahead…God is God, and we are not. We won’t always understand, and sometimes it might take us years to be able to look back and say, “Ohhh, that’s why that happened.” But we can’t allow our fears, doubts, and sinful perspective to prevent us from carrying on. We have to remember that our troubles are light and momentary, and that Christ carried the ultimate load..all of our sin…He allowed us the chance to trust Him…the ultimate privilege..the ultimate reward…We MUST be faithful. He will protect us, and lead us to the place He has for us. Keep going….