If I Hadn’t…

If I hadn’t left the Church in 2001…

  • I would not have learned to study Scripture (as opposed to simply reading Scripture);
  • I would not have learned to defend my faith;
  • I would not have drawn on the musical and doctrinal strength of hymns;
  • I would not have joined Tweb–which means I would never have made a few poor choices, but also means I would never have connected with those friends who appeal to my inner theology geek, or stumbled upon the phrase, “the theology of music”;
  • I would not have fought with Jenny;
  • I would not have forgiven and been forgiven by Jenny;
  • I would not have become such sister-friends with Colette;
  • I would not have known Jack, except as an acquaintance;
  • I would not have grown confident enough to say, “I have forgiven him;”
  • I would not have written that novel, or those poems, or those songs, or those letters, or those blogs.

The list is endless. There are so many things in my life that would be different today if I’d settled myself and not questioned my faith. I won’t lie to you: Some of the results are not as wonderful as those listed above. To be honest, some of the results still shadow my heart.

But I no longer regret that time in my life. I see it more every day, that even in my richest folly, I was in the hands of a sovereign, gracious, faithful Lord, who knew exactly what evils my choices would result in. And somehow, those evils that were conceived in my own frustration, my own sin, Christ has birthed into passions and ministries and relationships that I never would have known if I’d “just believed.”

So would my life have been better if I’d not failed? Perhaps. But perhaps I would have made other choices, worse choices, irreparable choices. Who knows? Only God knows. And only God still knows what good He may accomplish through my life. But I do not regret–I do not mourn–the choices I made yesterday.

There is a Redeemer. So yes–repent of your sin; turn from your folly; bring your contrite heart before the forgiving Savior. But trust in Christ. Trust in His ability to restore what the worm has eaten. Trust in His desire and purpose to do just that.

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6 thoughts on “If I Hadn’t…

  1. Semmi,

    I have no faith in religion – especially the “organized” kind. So many features are man-created that today’s main line denominations have no resemblance with the first century church (read “body of Christ”). Starting with the so called clergy – laity separation and ending with liturgy, all those inventions have destroyed what Christ intended for His body of followers.

    Your “…would not haves…” should encourage all seeking believers to STUDY Holy Writ, do what it says and find other believers of like precious faith to worship Him with. The rewards are legion.

    Dave

  2. Ask yourself – does God want to hear 400 year old prayers by rote, or what is in your heart today? While the Holy Spirit may have inspired those prayers long ago, repeating them today quenches His Spirit today IMHO.

    Jesus said : “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”

    As an outline for the prayers of His children, I believe this is excellent. Any other form is a waste of time and offers counterfeit comfort. What is His Word for, Sarah, if not a guide into His presence?

    • “does God want to hear 400 year old prayers by rote, or what is in your heart today? ”

      This is a false dichotomy. It does not stand to reason that someone who prays a “400 year old prayer” is not praying what is in her heart. I pray the Lord’s prayer quite frequently. Following a form or liturgy does not necessarily mean that someone is not being moved by the Spirit of God. And as someone who has spent time in overly-charismatic services, I will say quite frankly that I believe we all follow traditions; it’s just that some churches have made “non-tradition” their tradition.

      But your comments also raise another question: Should corporate prayer and private/personal prayer look exactly the same? I don’t think the passage you quoted is Jesus speaking directly to corporate prayer or worship. I could be mistaken.

  3. I believe we may find comfort in a prayer written by another, but it is not what is in our heart – only in our mind as we read it. Only God knows what is in our heart, and He wants to hear it from our lips.

    I, too, pray the prayer our Lord taught His disciples – an outline in reality – but in private. More frequently, I pray the outline in my own words as the Spirit leads. When I don‘t know what to pray, He intercedes for me. (Romans 8:26) This the only time I truly know I am in completely in tune with God’s will !

    Jesus was speaking against corporate prayer as practiced by Muslims and Jews of His day. The nature of praying in unison is exactly what I object to in corporate prayer. It’s not as chaotic as the simultaneous tongue praying babble in the Charismatic churches we attended – yes, 12 years – but it rapidly becomes mindless for any young Christian. (“…they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.”) Young/new Christians should learn to pray as Spirit leads in order to grow. There is no Christian corporate prayer in the Bible.

    The purity of the first century church is carefully outlined in N.T. Scripture, revealing intense persecution, evangelism, witnessing, worship, preaching and testifying. It worked then and it does today.

    The administrative organization of local bodies is given as well. What God – through the Holy Spirit – has provided, should have little or no amending to the first century tradition. All else is distraction at best, apostasy at the worst. As we are loyal and obedient to His Word, we please Him the most. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22

    • I believe we may find comfort in a prayer written by another, but it is not what is in our heart – only in our mind as we read it. Only God knows what is in our heart, and He wants to hear it from our lips.
      In making such a statement, you assert that you know what is in my heart. I think that’s a dangerous place to begin a conversation. Nonetheless, let me say that I don’t find this to be true at all. Do you really believe that when we pray, God listens only to the words we use, and not to the intents and expressions of our hearts? I don’t. I cannot believe that. I see no reason (Scripturally) to believe that.

      But also, and maybe equally as important, I believe that there is a strong connection between our profession and our convictions. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, right? So if I say, “I believe in God the Father, almighty Maker of heaven and of earth,” then it takes root in my soul. It is no longer “rote” as you said, earlier.

      I, too, pray the prayer our Lord taught His disciples – an outline in reality – but in private. More frequently, I pray the outline in my own words as the Spirit leads. When I don‘t know what to pray, He intercedes for me. (Romans 8:26) This the only time I truly know I am in completely in tune with God’s will !
      I see no reason the Lord’s Prayer should be deemed “private” only. If that is your assertion, I think you should give reason for it.

      it rapidly becomes mindless
      Surely you know, as I do, that any Christian can be in danger of settling into mindless tradition. It is not specific to liturgical services or corporate prayer. You show me any church in America—even yours—and I bet we find the potential for a person to get caught up in the “motions” of a service. That doesn’t mean the service itself is non-functional.

      Also, if your argument is that this function has failed for X number of Christians, and therefore must be entirely wrong, then I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken. I do not accept that argument from Bertrand Russel, and I do not accept it from you. A philosophy is not wrong because it has been misused or abused.

      There is no Christian corporate prayer in the Bible.
      That’s quite a claim. I would strongly disagree with you. Corporate prayer and corporate worship are very present in Scripture—unless you believe that Christians should gather together and not pray. Food for thought. Imagine that you and I go to a service (let’s not worry about the details of the service right now) and someone was struggling with some matter and asked that we all pray for them. It may not be functional, in that situation, for everyone to pray verbally at the same time. But what if we ask YOU to pray aloud, and the rest of us agree silently with you? How is that any different than all of us praying the same words aloud? I don’t see that it is any different.

      What God – through the Holy Spirit – has provided, should have little or no amending to the first century tradition. All else is distraction at best, apostasy at the worst.
      Certainly there is a time and a place for the word “apostasy.” But I really don’t believe this is one of those times. I would appreciate it if you offered the same respect to my (and others’) faith as I’ve shown to yours.

      Pax Christi!

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