Saturday, January 30, 2010

Turning around

As part of my daily internet browsing, I read a few other blogs.  My daughter's, for one.  Unfortunately, now that it isn't November, she doesn't feel the need to post every day, which annoys me, no end.  This is the daughter who used to answer my every question with one or two word answers. "Pretty good," she'd say when I asked her about her day. "Just tired," she'd answer whenever she burst into tears.  She's much more vocal as an adult, but her blog is often about little episodes of her life she might otherwise never mention.  And more often than not, it makes me laugh.  She got that quirky wit from Beve...well, at least the part that wasn't original to herself.

But I read blogs of total strangers as well.  And one of them, which I won't identify, has troubled me all week.  I mean, really, really troubled me.  See, this woman, a funny, intelligent, book-loving woman decided sometime in the last month that she no longer believes there's a God.  She was raised in a Christian home, has raised her sons in a Christian home, taught Sunday-school for years, but now (after the last five years of struggling, she says) she's come to the conclusion that God is imaginary.  When I read her first post about this 'enlightenment', my heart sank like a large boulder in a deep lake, and something akin to fear rushed over me.  Seriously.  I can't remember ever reading something that so hurt me deep within.  I mean this is a woman who was active in her Christian life.  A woman who is like so many other women I know, praying for her children, her husband, serving God in her community.  But something happened to her (which she doesn't quite identify, though I'm pretty sure Haiti was the final straw) that caused her to turn her back on it.  On Him.

After a full week of being a little distracted by her decision, and by my response to her decision--I mean, not just hurting for her, but the rush of fear that accompanied it--I finally identified what was going on.  When I was in my twenties, after my college boyfriend broke our engagement--the boyfriend I was certain was God's plan for my life--I turned tail, left that town for my hometown, and started grad school.  And made the decision that I would turn my back on God.  Just to see, you see.  Not that I went as far as this woman blogger has, but just to the edge of that.  I felt betrayed not merely by the boyfriend, but by God Himself.  So I thought I'd try living without Him.  And you know what I discovered? 

It was dark and lonely out there.  Miserable.  The loss of the boy was NOTHING to the loss of God (and believe me when I tell you the loss of that boy was, apart from my dad's death, the hardest thing I ever dealt with--or maybe I should say, I didn't deal very well with, at all!).  But living without God in my life was like living in the abyss.  In fact, I realized that without God, the existentialists were completely right: life has absolutely no meaning whatsoever.  And that meaningless life could lead to all kinds of horrible decisions, because nothing counted.

And all the while, He was standing behind me.  That's how it felt.  Like God was standing behind me, just out of sight, watching me...and crying over me.  I'd like to tell you it was mere months of darkness before I came to my senses.  But it wasn't.  It took about a year. That's the only year now I'd gladly strike from my chronology.  Looking back, I think of that year with something akin to fear--fear that I almost gave up the most important thing in my life.  The most important Who.  And the One who led me to Beve...to my real life.  That was all ahead waiting for me.  If only I didn't give it all up.

Fortunately, I couldn't do it.  Thank God, He never gave up on me.  He waited through that painful time, and was right there when I turned around.  Turned around and repented and thanked Him for never leaving me, for holding on while I was trying to run away.

I'm not here to discuss the theological arguments of  'once saved/always saved' versus 'it's possible to lose your salvation.'  Thankfully, that's above my pay grade.  Maybe it should be above all humans' pay grade. Maybe we should leave that whole question up to God.  And simply pray for those, like this woman, who have gotten turned around, disillusioned, and shut themselves out in the dark. So  I pray that God continues to stand behind her, maybe right out of sight, but always within reach.  I pray that she finds the darkness too dark, and the world too empty without Him.  And for all who think He's merely imaginary, who think that this world, our lives are merely accidents, I pray that the light overcomes the darkness, that they turn from that darkness to recognize who the Light is. Yes, that they just turn around and see Him.

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