Thursday, May 8, 2008

Still, I Believe

I was blog surfing the other night after the kids went to bed and Uberman was at a D-Backs game, when I came across this post.

I have read this blog before, I find the writer fascinating because he is very different from me. He is a British guy living in America and his point of view on Americans and the way we live is interesting. Not that I always agree with him, but I think it's informative and often humorous. He is obviously well educated and I will be the first to admit that yeah, he is smarter than I am. I'm totally okay with that.

One of the things I have learned to do really well as a grown up, is accept the fact that everyone has their own beliefs. To each his own, right? We are not all the same. It's what makes the world such a fascinating place. I can usually shrug off someone's negative comments about my beliefs and not take it personally. But this post on Christianity stuck with me. My heart felt heavy after reading it.

Here's the deal. I am a Christian. What that means to me is that I have a personal relationship with God. I accept that Jesus was the son of God and died for the sins of man. I have issues with the term "born-again." I think it has a negative connotation. You tell someone you are a born again Christian and right away they start assuming you are some kind of pew jumping, snake charming zealot who bombs abortion clinics and hates gays.

I attend a non-denominational church. I attend this church for the teaching and the opportunities to meet other people who believe the same way that I do. I pray every day. I not only ask God for things, I thank Him for things. I acknowledge His existence in my life. I ask Him to reveal Himself to other people I know. There are too many things that have happened in my life without reason or explanation for me to dismiss them as coincidence. This is why I choose to believe.

Am I perfect? No. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I still sin? Yes. Do I occasionally use inappropriate language? Yes. Is that language going to condemn me to eternity in damnation? No, I don't think so. I am not the type of Christian who stands on corners preaching to others about the fires of hell and the wages of sin. I am not the type of Christian that hates gay people and curses their existence. I don't hate anybody. I am not the judge. I live my life to the best of my ability. I try to find the best in everyone. All I ask is that I am given that same respect.

Do I know why bad things happen to good or innocent people? No. I don't know why a cyclone hit Myanmar and thousands of people are dead. I don't know why we lost so many people in Katrina or the Tsunami or even something preventable like 9/11. I don't know.

What I do know is that my faith is the very core of my being. My faith is what gets me out of bed when I'm afraid of what the day will bring. My faith allows me to forgive and to find the good in someone or something. My faith in God is what gives me compassion, understanding, generosity. My faith in God is what gives me hope. I can't imagine how empty I would feel if I did not believe in something greater than myself. It's not just the promise of life after death and rewards in Heaven. It's those little moments that we get, here in our worldly lives, where we can see God is at work. It's someone reaching out to another person in compassion. It's watching the good in people help someone else. It's the human spirit alive. Where else can that come from? That, my friend, is God.

Does my belief in God make me an idiot? No. Do I think this man is an idiot for not believing? No. But I do think it's sad that he does not have that same hope.

My grandfather was minister for more than fifty years. His faith was constantly tested through out his life. When he passed away last September, he had already buried two of his own children. I can't think of anything that would make me question the existence of God more. But he never did. I would ask him the same questions this blogger was asking. Why does God allow terrible things to happen? His answer surprised me. He looked me in the eyes and said "I don't know." Then he went on to tell me a story of a man who never stopped to see the little things like a flower blooming or a stranger's smile. It wasn't until a tragic event happened that he heard a voice saying "Can you see me now?" Maybe God allows these things to happen to get our attention. Or to see if those of us who have our eyes on Him will look away.

I asked my Grandpa, "When you get to Heaven, will you ask God why He allowed you to suffer so much when you have dedicated your life to serving Him?" I will never, ever forget his response.

"The only thing I need to hear when I get to Heaven is 'Well done thou good and faithful servant.'"

I chose not to comment on this man's post. It's his blog and he's allowed to say what he feels. Plus I don't want to pick a fight with someone I don't know. So I choose to pray for him. I choose to pray for his wife and their soon to be born child who I believe is a gift to them from God. I choose to pray for his health, his prosperity and his good fortune. And most of all, I pray for God to show Himself to a man who once believed. Even though he has turned his back, God is still there.

And I think he knows this.

So I am asking you, no matter what your faith is, if you can please join me in this. Take a minute today to pray for a total stranger. Maybe he'll see that being a Christian is more than asking for explanations.

And I leave you with this. The song they played at my Grandpa's funeral, a song he could have written. A song I can't listen to without tears on my cheeks.

Peace out.

8 comments:

Katie said...

Preach it, sister! It's so refreshing to read someone's statement of faith and to see such boldness. You rock, my friend.

XOXOX

chandy said...

Wow, that guy's blog was very sad and angry. But I enjoyed your uplifting response.

Becky said...

You are a gem. A diamond in the rough...okay, so you may not be rough, but I am. :) I am more rough than diamond, but I am glad that I am not a finished work...that God is going to keep working on me until Glory!

My flesh wants to rant all over the guy, but my heart says "how sad" to not have a hope.

To think that this is all there is, is devastating.

For believers, this is as close to hell as they will ever get. Sadly, though, for non-believers this earth is as close to heaven as they will ever get.

ginger said...

amen.

Coffee Bean said...

Wow April... I actually went to his site and read the post about why he lost his faith and then the post you speak of... and I actually left him a comment.

I am really enjoying reading your site. I like you April.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi there! This is Roland - the guy who's post you were writing about.

What you wrote was very interesting and I certainly didn't come here to pick a fight.

I do admit that we're all hard-wired to believe in something. My immediate reaction after having my faith tested was not to stop believing in God - it was to be horrifically angry with God. How could this being I'd spent so much time praying too and attempting to live by allow terrible things to happen to people?

And you can't exactly be angry at something if you don't believe in it.

So only part of my decision to stop believing in God was reasonable and logical - there just isn't any evidence to suggest he exists. The world makes so much more sense without God than it does with him.

But also - I chose to stop believing in God because if he did exist, he doesn't deserve people's love and devotion. He's mean spirited and petty diety. He gives us 'free will' yet demands that we live a certain way. Like the most needy and insecure person, he's constantly 'testing our faith' to see if we really love him or not. And like the most neglectful parent, he lets terrible things happen to thousands of innocent people.

April said...

Hi Roland, thank you for your comment. I appreciate the fact that you have the right to believe what you want to, and I chose not to comment directly on your post for that reason. I certainly hope I did not offend you with my post, because that was not my intention.

I read your blog often because I find it entertaining and informative. You are obviously a well educated man who thoroughly researches the facts in order to form an opinion. But it does make me sad to think you assume Christian people are idiots because we believe there is a God. This world is full of idiots, their belief in God has nothing to do with it. After reading a few of your posts, I felt you were categorizing all Christians as racist, homophobic and uneducated. That way of thinking is unfair. There are some of us out there who are just like you - trying to live life to its fullest, to be the kind of people that others can be proud of, and to leave this life knowing we can be proud of who we were and how we handled ourselves.

Even though we may not believe the same way, I still respect you as an intelligent human being. I am just asking for that same respect.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment. And again, I sincerely apologize if I offended you for blogging about you behind your back.

Becky said...

I suggest that Roland get a few more books, if the Bible doesn't do it for you (and the evidence that supports the Bible), try "The Case for Christ."

And here is something to try, ask God to show Himself to you in a real and personal way. Ask Him to answer your questions and ask Him if He is real.

I believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.