This weekend, while everyone was still home for Thanksgiving break, we all gathered in our common area (admittedly mostly in the kitchen/dining space over leftovers) while the TV was on and my Dad flipped through channels. My father fell on a family movie which we left on for a while while we ate and chatted the night away. At one point in the movie, one of the kids first discovered that the tooth fairy wasn't real and burst into tears. And then, began one of our classic family moments. My dad asked - "When did you guys discover the tooth fairy wasn't real?" LOL, classic. So I explained how a combination of bitter older kids at school, and a one time "improperly administered toothfairy money plant" did the trick. Next, "How about how you found out that Santa wasn't real?" LOL. Gotta love it. But it was interesting how I could remember a situation or time period for each where I really just lost faith in these "people."
Every day I seem to meet people who've given up on God, church, Christians or some combination of those. And to be honest, I've had times for each as well. And looking back on my own experiences losing faith, there generally are a couple of common causes:
1. Listening to Other People:
A lot of people grow up believing that drugs and sex are bad and most of us grow up learning that they're sins....and then someplace down the line, things change. Usually, that thing is who the child is listening too. Music and friends sometimes change their ideas on this. As people grow up, they're opened up to atheism and many other things which seem to be alternatives to just submitting to a rule of don'ts .... so then others justify what your flesh wants over what God wants.
2. Things Not Happening the Way You Expect
I can probably relate to this one the best. I'm sure that a lot of impoverished people in the world never believed in Santa because they wrote letters asking for what they wanted, and may not have received them. We know that God can do anything that He wants, and He owns everything in the world, but sometimes it gets hard to believe this, or that its relevant in our lives.
I know that personally, there's something that I've been praying, fasting and doing just about everything for for so long, and sometimes I just feel like its all futile, and sometimes I feel a little hurt. If God really cares and owns everything, then why doesn't He hear me? Must be that He either doesn't really own everything, or He doesn't really care, right? I feel that way sometimes, and its easy here to let your feelings justify what your flesh wants (to sleep in instead of getting up to pray, to skip church, or even to give into that sin you've been holding out on) because so far, it hasn't done anything for you right?
3. Making Christians the Ruler of Perfection & the Center of Your Faith
This I feel causes the most people to lose faith. We all say that "no one is perfect," and we especially like to use that line to chase people away when they're correcting us for doing something wrong, but once we hear that a pastor slipped up and cursed, see a deacon with a beer, a leader who's too demanding, or hear an usher gossip - we're shocked! Oh my goodness, how could they do that, aren't they Christian! They're supposed to be perfect! ...... No, actually, they aren't. Everyone is a work in progress which is why we have to make sure our faith is centered around Christ. So many Christians fall off completely when their pastors are found to be doing something heinous.... but then who was their faith centered around? I've been failed so much by Christians, and I've failed people. But God never fails us, and He's the only one like that, so we really have to be careful that Bishops, Pastors, Deacons, Youth Leaders, Christians etc keep those titles, and that we don't silently replace that title with "God" in our minds.
Yesterday as I was driving back from home, I heard one of my favorite songs by Lara George, "Mu Mi Dele" - which means "take me home" in Yoruba. And something about that song just brings me to tears every time, it reminds me the whole purpose in life and in my faith - to eventually see His face. Everything else, giving back, blessings etc is just extra. Then it dawned on me, we lose faith when we lose focus on the end goal - heaven. When we're first saved and realize that our sins can be washed away and we can make heaven, we get excited! But then, less than perfect things happen and we wonder why that awesome God would let it happen that way and sometimes faith [which by the way is the substance of things you CAN'T see -Hebrews 11] gets clouded by what you see and feel. I was talking to a really good friend and evangelist from my old church a few months ago, and he gave me a pearl that I've held on to ever since:
The devil's domain is in the physical, things we can see and feel. But God dwells in spiritual things, so we have to be sensitive to our spirit
Explains a lot. Most of the times that I've said or done things that I regretted, it was all based on how I felt, but when I take the step back to operate in the spirit [ie exercising patience, love, kindness .... -1 Corinth 13] the outcome is usually fine. The truth is that sometimes, I just get tired of taming my flesh, getting into my word, taking time to worship, being obedient, considering others before myself.... and in those times its sooo hard to keep faith. But when I focus on the end goal- heaven and my destiny, and what I have already - earthly life and eternal life (salvation).....I find it easier to get back on course. So that's my ramble for the night, I'm going to go back to keying in on my end goal and my faith......hope this encourages you to do the same!