Faith has always been a part of my life. I’ve been going to church since before I could even remember. My mother was in charge of the teens’ bible study every Sunday, and she says that they occasionally laughed because I was moving inside her womb and so did her shirt.
My father is a Baptist pastor from a Baptist family, and from my mother’s side, I’m the fifth generation of Baptist families. So I guess you can say I’m pretty much deep into this. But the truth is that this doesn’t mean anything when it comes to being a true Christian. Especially with knowing, living and preaching your faith to others.
How Faith became Religion
As I mentioned before, since I was a little kid I’ve known about God, and I always kept trying to have a relationship with Him. I can’t say that I failed at the beginning, after all, I was just a kid and I tried my best the way I knew how. However, I neither can’t say I succeeded as time went by, because I stopped living by faith and love and began living religiously.
By the time I became a teenager I was doing practically nothing at church, and by that I mean I wasn’t serving the Lord in any way. Of course, I could answer every question made at the bible study, but because I’d heard the same lesson over and over again, both church and school (I was also studying in a Christian school at the time). I could also find a Bible passage faster than anyone, but because I was holding a bible before I could even read.
Anybody would think that I knew a lot about God and the Bible, and it was true. I knew a lot, but I lived nothing. I knew about God, but I didn’t know God. To
The kids in the desert
I often like to think about that comparing it with the kids of the people of Israel. God freed the people of Israel from the Egyptians and they spent 40 years in the desert waiting for the promised land (Exodus 12: 37 onwards).
So when you think about it, surely there were kids there when they began the journey. Also, some other kids surely were born during the pilgrimage, in both cases, they lived and grown a significant part of their lives in there. The desert was all they know.
” The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”
Exodus 13: 21-22
I was like those kids, I grew up with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire through the night without paying too much attention to it. Those miracles were the everyday life for me. I wasn’t grateful for them, and I didn’t appreciate them like I was supposed to because I never knew life without them. I mean, are you grateful because the sky is blue? Well, that’s exactly my point.
What I thought it was faith, it was actually just habit.
What I thought Faith was
So I began doing some work at church thinking that would stop my parents from nagging me about it. But as it turns out, faith is not about doing good things because you’re supposed to do them. Is not about getting baptized and teaching the Bible to children. Neither is going to the church every Sunday, especially if you won’t pay attention.
The true faith is not about closing your eyes while someone else is praying but just think about your own stuff. And it’s definitely not about just saying you’re Christian, or invite people to your church when you only care about yourself.
Because I did all of those things, and I still feel lonely.
I still argued with my family, and felt like I didn’t have any real friends. I was desperately looking for someone to talk, someone who cared about me. I was purposeless, with no real visions or expectations for the future. And later on, I found people that seemed to care, and I invested myself in them when I wasn’t even investing in me.
A piece of reality
I’d got myself into a lot of trouble looking for approval. Caring more about what others thought of me that what I’d think about myself, and most importantly, what God’d think. I reached out for personal pleasure in the search of covering up that feeling of loneliness.
And in that search I learned that personal pleasure is like cotton candy. It tastes good for a while, but it always disappears leaving you with the same emptiness that you felt before. It makes you look out for some more and more until nothing is good enough.
I learned this the hard way. Those people that seemed to care about me, turn their back on me when I trusted them the most. Expose me to those close to me, and made me feel ashamed and even more alone than I was before.
What Faith did for me
So what’s the point of me saying all this and talking about my faith here? We all like to share with others the things that we like. Music, YouTube videos, tips and hacks for life. So this is me sharing with you the thing that changed my life, or more specifically, The One that changed my life.
I remember laying down in my bed without anything or anyone to hold on to, feeling betrayed. Just thinking what am I going to do now? And as my last option, I said to God:
«I don’t know what to do with my life, so take it. When I had it I wasted it, so go on and do whatever you want to do with it. Just make this feeling go away.»
It’s definitely not a traditional way to give your life to Jesus, I admit that. But after so many years of hearing (and doing) the same prayer over and over again, and in that time of desperation, I didn’t really care about tradition. At that particular time, I have to say I didn’t have much faith that I would feel better. I kept thinking that God is not supposed to be my last option and that He wouldn’t listen to me now because of that.
But let me tell you something, from that moment on, I never felt alone again. It might sound crazy for some of you, and I could try to explain it as much as I can, but it’s something that you can only understand it when it happens to you.
I saw countless people talking about their experiences and what God did for them, but I couldn’t care any less about it. It wasn’t until it happened to me that I understood that no matter when you reach out for God, He will listen. He shows a different aspect of Himself to everyone. For me, He is my company and my savior. And every day I learn about Him I see a different facet.
When I began to live what I preached, when I started to live by faith and not by religion, was when a difference was made on my life. When I gave my life to Jesus was when I finally started living, I had a purpose.
The most amazing thing is that it didn’t end there, I’m still learning and seeing new ways of living through faith. It isn’t always easy, but in the end, it’s always for the best. God has continued to show me new ways of fulfilling my purpose. Because even throughout the pain and times of suffering, He made me what I am today, and I couldn’t be happier.
That’s what Faith (and God) is to me. What’s God for you?