Today’s story comes from another young lady who has become family to me. Her story is powerful because it is an honest look at the struggle behind religion and faith…a struggle most people hide. Church is full of people who are full of doubts and questions – about themselves, about God, and about the Kingdom of God. It takes courage to voice those questions and face those doubts, and it takes great bravery to share with others the truths we have discovered in that journey.
Many people have come to know God’s redemptive story through the light of their failures and crisis. Personally, I think it’s easy to love God when you’ve been rescued from such deep darkness. But here is a young lady with greater faith, and with a more beautiful testimony, because she chose to love God, and to look for Him, in the space where He placed her. She chose a testimony that didn’t have to chase after the forbidden to discover God’s grace and power.
My prayer today, for Linda and for the youth of this generation, is that they won’t have to know the ravages of sin and darkness to know the depths of God’s power and love. And that this story will encourage others to seek and to find God where He dwells – among His people, in His church.
We are the church, and the church has not yet been made perfect. But when we dare to come together, facing our imperfections, our doubts and fears, and choosing to look toward and wait for God to reveal Himself, we can be sure that He will. He delights to pour out His love and bring us into more and more of His Kingdom and presence. This is Linda’s story, and this is what God has only just begun to unfold for her beautiful life!
“My name is Linda and this is my resurrection story…
I’ve been in the church all my life. Quite literally. My parents met and were married, started their family by adding my brother and I to the mix, all while attending the same church where I am now a youth leader. But it wasn’t or isn’t as perfect at it may seem or you may think.
Being a part of a church and knowing a system is completely different from being eternally saved and knowing a person. Jesus. Knowing the right things to say and do and even feel really blocked me from experiencing a more genuine and true fulfillment of what God has for me. It was hard for me to tell if it was just in my own head or actually God speaking to me. Too many times I felt like I heard what only I wanted to hear. Often, I caught myself looking at the ‘spiritual’ one at any event I attended, trying to see how they reacted to what God was doing. I tried to compare myself to them and even falsify their encounter for myself.
It was certainly no way to live and there came a point when I had to say enough is enough.
There have been many other things I have tried, such as keeping a SOAP journal (a method of Bible Study, to go deeper in Scripture), for example. Although it felt good while I was doing it, things quickly fell off and I found myself not putting the time aside for those things. Going into youth ministry, I knew I had to put the petal to the metal and really stick to what needed to be accomplished in my spiritual life. I became a part of a team that, frankly, saw more in me than I ever saw in myself, and that really encouraged me. They have always understood and recognized if something was bothering me and have tried to help me in the best way they can. I’ve been able to come to them with anything on my mind, and not have to fear what they might say or think of me, which made it easier to be real. Now I’ve had my fair share of blessings as well as my shortcomings, but that just goes to show that no matter how hard we try, we can’t be perfect, because there is only one person who is, and that is Jesus.
There were times that I felt I wanted to turn my back on God, to go out into the world and become this prodigal daughter that I never need to be. Again, I found myself comparing my life and experiences to those who have only known God for a short amount of time. He reminded me, however, that I already know what He can do in my life and I don’t have to be lost for Him to find me.
Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV)
My hope in God is that one day I will see through His eyes and feel with His heart, and that I may be who He has called me to be. I hope, too, that we will learn to treat others the way He has always treated the ones He loves.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” (NIV)
I will forever continue to live striving to be the best I can in any and every area of my life. My aim is loving Jesus every day and thanking Him for everything He has done for me, and also loving those He has placed around me who I’ve been able to pray for and pour into.
Just remember, if you feel like a failure and that you aren’t loved for who you are, the devil is a liar and is wrong in everything false or contradicting to the words God has spoken in and to you. God says to come as you are. Whether that’s broken or healing, you just have to come to Him. He is the only one who can fix it all and make you feel a way you have never felt before.”