I’m not ashamed of my faith. I’m not afraid to tell people about it, even though I know there are a great many people out there who do not believe, even in my own family. The thing is, sometimes I have often gone about it in such a way people have been put off by my words rather than inspired or moved toward God.
I know what God has done in my life. I can see it every day when I look at my wife and my kids. I think about how alone I was before, even when there were people around me. It isn’t like that anymore. I feel the presence of God in my wife’s touch, or in the voices of my children.
I remember how my heart felt prior to having Jesus within, or recognizing his sovereignty. I remember long nights and endless days trying to fill the empty places with something, with anything, with everything. I would do (and did do) anything to find fulfillment, and give meaning to my life.
I’m ashamed and embarrassed of many of the things I did. I can’t believe when I think about that God actually accepted me as I was. I broke commandments. I broke laws. I helped ruin a marriage. I used the gifts given me by God to amuse myself and others at the expense of the weak, and the least of these. I did so many things to excess, and it often felt like my heart was full of worms. I was truly a wretch, but I was able to hide it from people well enough to get by. Thankfully, though, there is this:
your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious are your
thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them
I think where I often went wrong was not just in the communication of what I believed to be the great work done in my life, but in my tendency to shout about it. People do not always respond well to or appreciate the level of enthusiasm possessed by a person who has experienced a sea change of such a great magnitude. Especially those who do not believe.
Many of the people I know who are unbelievers respond to declarations of faith with what for me seems unjustified anger often bordering on rage. They don’t understand why people of faith always have to talk about it. It makes them uncomfortable.
Sometimes I would let the message get lost during delivery, and that’s a shame. It’s cost me a great deal of worry over the past few years that my words or actions may have caused people to turn farther away from God.
Often, people who don’t believe will tell you the things they think about Christians based on what their experiences have been. Those experiences are usually negative, and why they typically respond to people of faith with such vitriol.
Where I have often gone wrong is in marginalizing those experiences rather than validating them. People who have had painful experiences at the hands and words of Christians are hurting regardless of what I may think about their wounds.
Allowing their hurt-based responses to my often inept words to wound me in turn does nothing but draw all concerned farther away from God.
So I suppose what I need to do is find better words. Or maybe, as the song says, let my life be the proof, the proof of your love.
If it is true that people will know us by our fruit, then I need to learn to better describe my experiences. I think the key may be in looking more to these two gentleman, who have changed my life so dramatically.