{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 1~Fake Christianity Isn’t Worth It

I’ve been a “Christian” for 16 years. Well, I went to church when I was little and understood as much as a little girl could. But then I stopped going and didn’t think about God
or Jesus
or the sacrifice made
for many years.

When He called me back into relationship with Him, it changed everything.
My friends,
my lifestyle,
my future plans.

I was completely sold out for Jesus and the main way I showed this was through an active role in ministry. I started by showing up early for youth group. I would vacuum floors, help straighten chairs. Eventually, this grew into a full time internship. Us interns, we worked looong hours. We were the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave…at youth group and any other event that happened at the church.

Four years down the road, I married my husband and I assumed this lifestyle even more. Long hours, life consumed by ministry and God’s people.

The thing that I skipped in my journey toward a Christ-devoted life was a regular, daily RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. I had heard it many times from the platform: “Christianity is relationship based. He wants your heart before your works.”

And I believed it. And I thought I was living it. Until several years later, when life became hard and I realized I didn’t have His Word hidden in my heart. I had been relying on corporate worship times to provide the “relationship” part. I DID pray. I DID worship. And I know God was speaking and I know I was listening.

But was it consistent? No. Was I allowing for time with just the two of us, away from the wonderful music and the worship leader with the great voice? No. Was I praying on my own, without the help of the guy on the microphone, telling me what to pray for? No.

It was during an 18-month time that we spent away from our home church that I began to learn how to actually have a relationship with God. (Isn’t that amazing?? We get to have a relationship with God!! It still takes my breath away…)

We were away from home. We were uncomfortable, unsettled…struggling financially and feeling a bit isolated. We were away from home and our home was dealing with an extremely difficult situation. The church was in crisis and our (extended) family was right in the middle of it.

The pastor of the church we were currently serving talked about reading through the Bible in a year. He passed out calendars that had Scripture references for each day of the year. In addition, he would preach from the weekly reading at our mid-week service.

I took on the challenge. For the first time, I knew I could open my Bible and know what to read. It may seem so simple to you but for me this was a brand new concept. So every morning I woke up a bit earlier than my children, made my way to our adorable, southern front porch (oh, how I miss that front porch!) and read my Bible.

And it began to transform me. I was waking every day to talk to GOD. And He spoke to me through His Word.

 credit

It’s been several years now and this habit has continued. I’ll be honest and let you know that it doesn’t happen every single day. Life happens…sometimes we were up at night with a sick child or I accidentally overslept…and I am thankful for God’s grace and the fact that He already knows me and knows that my heart and intention is to spend time with Him. I do my best though, and most mornings it happens. One thing that pastor had said that really brought freedom to the topic is that if I miss a day, I don’t have to try to catch up. Each day is it’s own and I don’t beat myself up for missed days.

This habit has now developed into a (mostly) daily routine of reading, praying and listening. It has become my lifeline. Life is stressful and hectic sometimes and I am not the most patient, gracious person on my own. I need His help and guidance to make it through the day!

Sometimes I wonder if I really even knew Him back then. I knew OF Him and I experienced being AROUND Him, but it wasn’t as personal as it is now. Most likely I’ll look back on this time and think the same thing. Much like my relationship with my husband, my relationship with God will continue to grow and develop. I’m thankful that life is full of growth and challenge. It’s never boring!

I don’t want to just go through the motions. I don’t want to live a typical, nicey nice life. Sometimes I get so excited, just sitting in my living room. I get to meet with the Almighty, Huge, Awesome Creator of the Universe! He tells me things that make me excited! He makes me feel special, cared for, LOVED. He speaks to me about purpose. About vision. About hope.

What’s even more amazing is that this kind of relationship is available, equally, to each and every one of us!

What has your process been like? Were you late in the game like me? Or did you learn this from early on? Are you reading this and thinking I’m crazy? I would love to hear about where you are on the journey…
 

This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}~~ read about the what & the why here.

7 thoughts on “{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 1~Fake Christianity Isn’t Worth It

  1. I'd just like to tell you how much I appreciate your transparency by doing this series. I feel like we as mothers or wives are always trying to make sure everyone sees what we are doing right all the time, trying not to let anyone see our mistakes and we (or at least I) compare myself to everyone else who is doing it 'right' and often feel like a big fat failure. It's refreshing to let the guard down and to be able to relate and say, “Hey, I've been there” Or “I'm there now” and to be encouraged by this series. I look forward to hearing the rest! 🙂

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  2. Andrea, thanks for sharing that. I find a similarity in your story to mine, that it took a difficult circumstance for me to really start to mature in my own personal relationship with God. We probably had the same pastor – but years apart! 🙂
    I was a desperate 12-13 year old that had to fight for who I was spiritually. I wonder if many of us had to have a tough spot bring us to a deeper place with Him.
    Something I really really love is how He knows each of us, and you speaking of Grace. I am NOT a morning person, and I feel that pastors call us to have a 'morning' time with God. To start our day with Him, and that THAT is the time to do it. Other times of the day 'don't count'. or are wrong. 😉
    But you know what? HE made me. HE knows my day, my schedule, and my 'evil' morning heart. 😉
    I have alone time with Him, but at night. It just fits. And we BOTH get more out of it! (difintely more than when I was trying to force the morning times) haha!
    I miss some nights, too. Everybody does. I'm SURE of it. And, it's a great way to fall asleep. Maybe I'm not late, maybe I just get a jump on the morning people. 😉
    But missing a night here and there is no big deal, because I am talking to Him and spending time with Him in small moments all day long. The car, cleaning, cooking in the kitchen, walking outside. We spend the whole day together. T

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  3. What a great post, Andrea. Thanks for sharing.
    As my children get older, and our family gets busier, I need Him more…..maybe not more, but I need Him in new and different ways. Always growing in Him and going deeper. I have to purposely focus on nurturing my relationship with God……and that has been a difficult lesson at times.
    I hope that makes sense :o)

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  4. Great ideas, Andrea. You have a very warm, honest, inspiring attitude. It makes it feel okay to be real and at the same time, encouraged to keep digging deeper. I can attest to the artificial relationship factor of being in ministry. It wasn't intentional, but because my life was so full of ministry, Bible, meetings, it seemed that my relationship must be working from within that. It took me way too long to realize that it didn't equal a real relationship just to be doing the stuff of God. A season of desperation was also what led me to a consistent, individual time with the Lord. Ahhhhhhh…. Some of the desperate circumstances are still there actually, but my approach, feeling and reaction to them is entirely different. At least that's how it seems to me…

    Love you! Keep em coming! You have a gift!

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  5. Andrea, what a great place to start. At the beginning, where the relationship to God starts. I am inspired to purposely pursue my devotion time with God and not rest on past discoveries and relationship. Every relationship in our life needs to be tended to, and our relationship with God most of all! I love that you are chasing your writing gift. I look forward to reading all 31 lessons and more!

    Keep it up! Love, Tina

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