Sundays were rarely for sleeping in, except maybe on vacation. Blessings preceded mealtime. Bedtime prayers, a nightly ritual. Our consistent church attendance wasn’t based on legalism; it was simply the rhythm of our lives. Our faith practices were as natural as breathing, second nature, the way things were. If you were raised in the church, can you relate? We just never considered there might be another way people lived.
Let me stop right here and make sure you understand I’m not saying growing up in church is a bad thing. Being raised in a home where faith permeates the atmosphere is good, a blessing, a position of favor. I’m thankful. How we find our way to Christ is never a competition. God is the writer of each person’s story, and it is at His initiative that we turn toward Him in the first place.
Still, when I look back on my upbringing in the church, so much of it came to me by way of osmosis, and that, I suspect, eventually led to a lot of questions.
I know when I made a public confession of faith because according to the dated certificate, my sister and I were baptized at First Christian Church when I was twelve. My vague recollection suggests it was more about my fear of hell and eternal damnation than it was about love for God, my sinful ways, true repentance, or my need for a Savior. Though our gentle pastor met with us to make sure we understood what we were getting into (or was it to vet our intentions?), I wanted to be a member of our church and to be able to take part in communion. Truth be told, it was less about sacrament than it was about a mid-service snack; I had been waiting a long, long while to drink grape juice from a thimble and eat those tiny fairy crackers.
This is the point where I get all squirmy when asked about my testimony. Oh, I can talk your ears slap off the sides of your head about what God is doing in my life today, but I can’t point to that moment when I passed from death into life. I’ve never been comfortable claiming my baptism as the day I was born again, and I don’t know my “spiritual birthday,” the date others claim as the day they were saved. This has always bothered me. (And it bothers me that it bothers me.)
Church has been an integral, inextricable, and influential part of my life for as long as I can remember. But I suspect for a long while that my faith wasn’t really mine at all. It was more me taking on a fraction of “their” faith — whether that was pastors, loved ones, or otherwise. I was professing to believe all the things I knew in my head but didn’t really believe in my heart. I would have argued I did believe, but my actions pointed to performance as if righteousness could be earned from the outside in.
And I had thoughts. I had questions. I had doubts.
Perhaps you, too, don’t have a dramatic memory of the moment you became a Christian, and if you’re honest, you’ve had thoughts. You’ve had questions. You’ve had doubts.
If you have thoughts, questions and/or doubts related to your faith, the next (in)courage book club – For All Who Wander – is for you.
If you’re asking hard questions right now or struggling with doubt, you’ll find a friend who understands. If someone close to you is in a spiritual desert, you’ll learn ways to actually help them. You’ll see the redemptive value of the difficult parts of your story, how God really is working all things together for good. If you’re carrying the weight of guilt, condemnation, shame, or embarrassment, you’ll discover God as a no-matter-what, always-faithful God who loves you with reckless abandon.
For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God is Better Than Knowing it All isn’t a how-to manual but an amazing story that reminds us that God’s faithfulness has nothing to do with our faith. Understanding how God can use your wanderings to draw you into a closer relationship with Him as opposed to a wedge pushing you away will change your life, now and forever.
Want to join us? We’d LOVE to have you! All you need to do is buy a copy of the book and sign up here. For six weeks, by the magic of email and the power of video, (in)courage Community Manager, Becky Keife, and I will walk through the book with you. Our sincere hope and prayer is to serve you well by reading in community. Isn’t together always better?
Invite a few friends to join you! If you’re looking for a way to connect with other women in real life, take a step of faith and courage, and as our (in)courage contributor Jen Schmidt says, “Just open the door” to your home. There will never be an easier way to host a book club. Simply gather together, watch that week’s video, plan time for your own discussion, and close in prayer. Super fun and no stress, yes?
Are you ready? Sign up below, and you’ll hear from us shortly. We can’t wait to get started!
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