The Cost of Growing Up In ChurchWednesday, January 4, 2012
Coffee in hand, children tucked in to bowls of Fruity Pebbles, I take a second to pull up today's devotion. The first line:
"Most of us come to Christ with a certain“inloveness”—a stirring of emotion mixed with an inexplicable knowing that we’ve discovered our reason for being."
But not me.
I grew up in church--raised by a mother that did a wonderful job at being dedicated to raising my brothers and I up to believe in God: pray before meals and at bedtime and to sit quietly while the pastor preached his sermons. I remember being hauled to the women's bathroom and getting a firm swat on my backside for causing too much ruckus during church. It only happened once or twice. I learned my lesson. Mostly.
But when I came to God and confessed that Jesus Christ was my Savior, I didn't do it because I was in love with the Lord...or because I had discovered my reason for being. I did it because I was scared. I didn't want to die and go to hell. I wanted to be 'good'...and be safe. Did that confession mean as much as the person with stars in their eyes and mercy washing away their sin? I think it did. After all...I wasn't even ten years-old yet. The only mercy I needed was for snickering too loudly when the pastor read that other world for 'donkey' out loud from the Old Testament.
However, God certainly has a way of seasoning and toughening those of us that have always 'known' Him. He doesn't let us get by on life on the shirt tails of our parents' faith. He forces us to know Him in a deeper, real way. He sets us in the middle of an ocean, waves angry and high, and allows the storms to rage on all sides of us. Sometimes, He whispers to us...comforts us. Many times, He stands by--eyes always on us--but deadly silent. He watches us grow. He waits to see if we will still believe in Him...or if we will surrender to the world, just in hopes that the waves will die down. But He will not let us keep that childhood fairy tale forever. He will force us to make a grown-up choice: to truly be His and know Him...or grow lost in our own delusions and dreams.
So today, I can confidently declare that the twenties will most usually be the hardest for anyone that grew up in church. During this time, God places you in the heat of battle. During this time, your worth is determined; your faith made or broken. And I praise God for it. I praise Him that He saw in me a reason to make Him real to me. I praise Him that He saw fit to put me in the midst of one terrible, dark storm after another. Yes, it has hurt. Yes, it has been more than frightening. Yes, I still do not understand how He will rescue me out of this mess. But praise God He has His eyes on Me!!!! How amazing is THAT?!
And, as I sip my coffee...I cannot help but to smile a little mischievously. Because this year...I turn thirty. For some reason, I think the worst of this 'growing up' will be behind me after that. The growing pains--the worst of them, at least--might ease up. I think. I hope. I trust. I hold on, no matter if the storms are always there...one after the other. I believe. I come to Him...in love...content...ready to serve His greater purpose.
Because even if I die in these storms...it's worth it.