Learning to Hug God Back

This past Thursday I met with a group of other Greek Intervarsity student leaders and our staff worker Meaghan. We were going through scripture and praying that God would point us in the right direction to lead our respective chapter Bible studies. I had been up since 6 a.m., had two classes, a lab, and worked for five hours at that point. I was tired. And not only was I tired but I had been feeling out of touch with God while running the rat race that is managing all of my commitments each day. 

My friends sat in prayer; I just sat in annoyed silence. Not hearing God and exhausted; wanting to be able to rest in his presence, but not being able to.

This is the part about being a Christ follower that doesn’t get talked about much. Doubt. My relationship with Christ is build on his love for me, but my human nature to wander and let lies permeate that my relationship with him is build on what I’ve done or should be doing. When things of this world stress me out and make me feel like I’m sinking I find it hard to turn to God and to know he’s there. 

I always want to seem like I have it all going right and firing on all cylinders so I like to pretend that I don’t have these doubts and certainly not let it show. I look around to the Christians around me and see them happy and fired up about Jesus all the time; not a doubt or care for things in the world. 

There must be something more that I’m not doing, I’ll say to myself. So I add another church service, or start a new daily devotional, sing extra loud during worship, and maybe raise my hands higher. 

But the truth is that it is okay to admit to struggles and doubts. I realized that if I’m not open and honest about the struggles that I face it lessens who Christ is and what he has done for me. There is nothing more I need to do to get past my doubts other than remind myself that Grace is freely given and that there is nothing I need to add to my life in order make him love me. He already showed that to me on the cross. 

For me it’s still scary when I have these moments or seasons of doubts because if I want to dedicate my life to ministry, I'm excited about Urbana and world missions, and the work I do to help people know God, I feel like I shouldn’t have any doubts about God and by having these doubts it makes me less of a leader. 

But then I remember Thomas. 

Thomas left the life he knew behind to live his new life with Jesus. Thomas watched Jesus preform miracles, ate with him, watched him preach and heal those around him. Thomas was also the disciple who was willing to enter the hostile Bethany where Jesus had almost been stoned to death in order to go raise Lazarus from the dead. He was willing to follow Jesus to his own death, but even he had doubts. What’s amazing is that through his story and his interaction with Jesus, it is clear that it is okay and Jesus loves Thomas, so much. Doubts and all. 

When he finally saw Jesus after he was resurrected, his savior did not rebuke him, but rather (as I imagine) spoke to him lovingly as a friend. And “Doubting Thomas’ we believe also went on to go spread Christianity in Asia, specifically India. Doubt is okay. It grows our faith and makes our relationship with Christ deeper as we get to know him more through our questions and prayer. 

I’m learning to put my hope in Christ alone, all the time. I’m learning to value myself and who I am—not by my successes or doubts, but by how much Christ loves me. One of my favorite speakers, Judah Smith wrote this: 

That’s how we often react when grace comes at us. It’s awkward. God offers us something that’s too good to be true—unearned, unmerited, total forgiveness—and we stand there, stiff and uncomfortable, waiting for the embrace to stop so we can get back to the business of earning our way into heaven. We need to embrace grace. We need to learn how to hug back.

I’m learning to hug God back, to allow myself to rest fully in his grace. Knowing that I don’t need to do anything to be loved and cared for fully by God. It’s unmerited, but it’s mine. And there’s nothing I can do to run from it or lose it.

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Comments

That was excellent Jaime. And your sharing this is what makes you such a strong follower for others to watch, learn from & grow!

I can relate to what you are saying. I'm very goal oriented and I feel like I must earn self worth through accomplishments. But I have felt God's love for me and when I do, there is no doubt that he loves me because he made me. He loves just because I am the person I am. But now seeing an ex and wondering why God called me to end the relationship makes me think I am unworthy of love and that I made the wrong decision. But that's me fighting God and not trusting him.

I know this is probably not the most fitting comment, however, I am Catholic. I see this in culture and people keep asking and asking, but they forget to listen. They forget that God will meet us in the most silent place in our hearts. If I'm not mistaken and remember the passage Elijah when trying to communicate with God heard God only in the silent whisper of the wind. To doubt is normal, but to go beyond doubt is what we are called to. The Eucharist in Catholicism is the by far the best part of the Mass. I love being able to receive the full divinity of the body and blood of Christ in the presence of the Eucharist. There isn't an absent feeling any further. When working through prayer and scripture sometimes its the matter of Lectio Divina or just learning to silence our minds from any outside thoughts to hear God. Its meditation that opens the door to communication for some. A great quote from a saint once said, "I look at Him (Jesus) and He looks at me, and its simply enough," while in Eucharistic Adoration. The mindset you are in is Apophatic Prayer. Kataphatic Prayer is seeing God through visuals. If your prayer life is strong, St. Theresa of Avila discusses the mansions of prayer. The Mansion of Mediocre is where most people give up because its where its the hardest to hear or pursue God. God may not come as easily, but with perseverance, and practice we are able to pass it.

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