Today has been a hard day today. I don’t really know why, even though I think I know exactly why.
I have been a Christian for many years – even have the bible college degree to back it up – and I have tried for most of the time … well, part of the time, to do the right thing. But I am not really even sure of that, all the time.
I had a glimpse of joy today. A friend I had met on Facebook recently posted a news article about his return to faith after many years as a dedicated atheist. I watched the video on the link, read through the testimonies of the different people, and I have to admit, I am a little jealous at their conversion.
I have always loved the idea of God, and especially the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ. I was saved when I was around 5 or 6 years old, and I remember the day. I was at the Good News Club in my basement, with my friends. I remember asking Jesus to come and live in my heart. I even did it twice just to make sure he was in there, and I even recall that feeling in my heart as he came in, like a draft of wind pouring through and shutting the door behind him.
It has been more than 20 years, and I can still remember it.
I still remember it, but it has been a long journey. Thinking of the new converts, or, in my friend’s case, the re-converts, I am jealous at their obvious joy. But even as I currently struggle with the remnants and re-occurrence of depression, I take great comfort in their joy, too.
I have an atheist friend. It has been many years since I have walked the same high school halls along with him, but I feel a genuine love for him. It is a deep, binding sort of love, a love that honestly makes me feel like an idiot. How can I love someone who has scorned me so many times, who doesn’t probably know me that well, and someone who, I am sure, on more than one occasion, thought I was an overly emotional, sentimental, judgmental, too traditional, too much a fool or just short of a creepy stalker? I feel embarrassed that I can’t seem to communicate to him without sounding not quite like myself. Either too nervous or funny or sarcastic or grating.
But I know my love for him is real and true. His soul has a connection to mine which I cannot fully explain or know. It is different from the love I have for my husband, and different from that of friend or brother. I don’t think it is rooted in pity or sympathy (neither would be welcome.) I do think it is a love rooted in compassion, and admiration, and continually renewed by choice and something more than choice, but vastly different; maybe un-choice?
While faith has not completely taken care of my depression, I do believe it has given me the grace to get through the hard days, the love to give out to others, and a paradigm to see all of life’s perspectives through. I know I am loved by God, adopted into his kingdom, and trained for his service. I know I am unique, but not here by accident. I know I am a creator, made by a greater one, and I am telling a story with my life, yet still a character in the greatest story, told by the grand storyteller. I know this love Jesus showed me through the cross, and I know, first by innocent faith and then virtuous faith, it has given me the strength to endure great things, great trials and great joys.
While my initial joy has faded, I am no less loved. And I take great comfort in my friend’s conversion, and I hope my atheist friend will one day come to see the Jesus I see, and see the love Jesus has for him. I believe God to be real, because when I think about my atheist friend, there are two things that happen consistently.
The first thing is I will be comforted when my heart aches for him. I still remember him, and I pray as I write and I think of him. And when I get worried for him, when there is s heaviness that comes over my heart for him, I will receive a message from the lord that He is in control, and he has made a promise to me, and I to him. The second thing is I will get a gift of something in comfort and encouragement. It can be small to something hugely coincidental – to hugely coincidental to be anything but a miracle.
My faith is not motionless. My prayers are not voiceless. My pain is not meaningless. My God is not heartless. I am not powerless.
Today has been a hard day. But I keep looking for the means to go on, and I have them. I am blessed.