the ups and downs of faith

2

Category : God, faith, hope, sharing faith

  

There are days (like today) that I don’t feel much like writing.  In fact, there are days when I don’t really feel much like doing this “Christian thing” at all. This isn’t surprising; we all go through times like this.  Sometimes we even do it more than once.  CS Lewis captures this up and down during a conversation between Screwtape (a senior demon in the bureaucracy of Hell) and Wormwood (his nephew).  Screwtape says, ”Now it may surprise you to learn that in [God's] efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.” (The Screwtape Letters, p. 38) 

I find that encouraging and depressing all at the same time.

I want faith to be simple.  I want it to be easy.  But it’s not.  Faith is a relationship, not a scientific equation.  Some days it “feels” more real, more intense, more exciting than other days.  It’s on those “other days” where we need to be aware that our relationship with God may be strained, and be ready to act.

When I feel this distance, there are a few questions I ask myself. Am I working on being connected to God?  Am I still praying?  Do I read my Bible regularly?  Am I writing down my thoughts as I pray or read?  Am I following through on what I sense God is telling me?

There are other questions I could ask myself, but usually the answer lies in one of these questions.  The more I answer “no” to these questions, the further I feel from God.  I would never expect a strong and healthy relationship with a friend if I never talked to them, never wrote to them, and ignored them when they called.  Why would God be any different?

Those disciplines are important in my life.  Not because they are the secrets to getting into heaven, but because they are important to simply developing healthy relationships.  All relationships take hard work, even ones with God.

hiding from God

Category : God, faith, hope, shame

  

Sometimes things seem too coincidental to be, well, coincidences.  Of course it could always be dumb luck.  Or perhaps God just really wants to drive a point home.  There are certainly things I need to hear more than once a few times!

Friday as I was looking through some notes I saw something that caught my eye.  A quote I had written down from The Screwtape Letters.  In that book CS Lewis discusses what happens when we’re kept half-aware of our guilt.  Basically it works to Screwtape’s “advantage.”  And for those who haven’t read the book he was a demon.  Screwtape that is, not Lewis.  

By making us only half aware of our guilt, Screwtape says, “All humans at nearly all times have some such reluctance [to think of God]; but when thinking of Him involves facing and intensifying a whole vague cloud of half-conscious guilt, this reluctance is increased tenfold.” (The Screwtape Letters, p. 58)

What we want to do most is get rid of that guilt.  But the one thing that can remove that guilt is the one thing we turn from.  Or as Erwin McManus says, “we run from God because we are certain that the closer we come to him, the more guilt and shame we will feel.”  (Soul Cravings, Entry 9)

I wasn’t thinking of these things when I wrote about turning away from God when my faith feels weak.  But that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  I’ve been running from God because I feel “half guilty” about being faithful.

Screwtape must be pleased by that.

I think it’s time to change direction and run the other way.