After church recently, I felt compelled to share my faith. I usually walk quietly in my faith, but God has put this on my heart and I'm trying to obey unquestioningly and listen closely, so here goes.
I wouldn't say my faith has ever been a secret. I teach at a Christian school, I reference heaven when someone dies, I say 'Thank God' and genuinely mean it. But how many may have not realized my faith exists?
I choose to say faith instead of religion, because I see them as vastly different, and thankfully so does my church. I'm service oriented, and try to show my faith through kind words, thoughtful actions, and a deep consideration for my fellow people. But the sermon topic from a recent Sunday has me thinking about speaking my faith instead of just showing it. If I do those things because of my faith, but say nothing, how many will know who leads me? How many will miss an opportunity to hear of the love God has to give? Of the sacrifice that has already been given?
I love words. I love reading words, thinking words, writing words. Yet I often feel I lack the words to share my faith. I fear judgement and dark looks, when really, I should have no fear of anything in this world. Every tough situation I've encountered, I overcame because God led me through it. No judgement by man should make me ignore the small voice in my heart, telling me to speak up.
So this is step one. I have a heart for Jesus. Don't worry; I won't shove it down your throat. I won't push my faith on you in any way. But every act I do is a reflection of my faith. I pray you see my actions, read my words, and know there would be no me without God. I want to love as God loves, which means I don't judge you. I pray for people I don't know and will never meet. I feel compelled to pray by simple things, like hearing a siren or seeing someone who looks stressed, downtrodden or sad.
I became a Christian while in high school, and it was the actions of one amazing family combined with the words and stories of author Francine Rivers that led me to faith.
My best friend's family truly lives and breathes faith. It was through spending time with them, seeing their kind hearts through their actions, that I realized I had a misconceived notion of faith. When I received a set of books from them, the Mark of the Lion series, I was a little hesitant to read them. I hadn't read the Bible, I didn't go to church, and I only prayed when I was desperate. I thought the Easter resurrection was a ghost story, meant to frighten like the headless horseman, the first time I heard it. Religion seemed like a web of entrapment and guilt, led by a disconnected and angry God. My friend's family wasn't judgmental, harsh or put a fear of God in me. They showed me God's unconditional love while the Rivers books introduced me to the concept of a personal relationship with a forgiving God. This combination absolutely changed my life. I began going to church, praying and reading the Bible. I saw that I had been judgmental, believing stereotypes in the media instead of taking the time to investigate for myself.
God is forgiving. He has forgiven me so much-- periods of doubt and searching, hurtful words and unkind thoughts. One of the hardest and most important lessons I learned was that if you ask for help and forgiveness with a pure heart, you will be forgiven. He may ask you to forgive others as well, but it's much easier to forgive when you have been forgiven.
I am not a perfect person, but I am loved by a perfect God. He leads my every step and I often pray for Him to guide my thoughts as well. He is the source of my strength, the well from which I draw. Now He is leading me to reach out, declare my faith and offer my words. If there is anything I can pray about for you, or if you just want to talk, I'm only a comment away.
I know religion and faith are often hot topics, which lead people to attack one another. Please refrain from doing so here. I will be closely monitoring comments, but I would like this to be a judgement free space. My goal is to not judge anyone, and I ask that if you comment here you make that your goal as well. Thank you for your time, and for reading.