Nov 15, 2011

What is backsliding to a Christian?

Over the past three years, I have grown in faith and have settled into a relationship of trust and friendship with God. As a result, I have become a more positive person. So when I experienced what I thought was continued disappointments from God over this past weekend, even I was surprised at my response.

It all started on Thursday, when my husband called to say, "They told me to spend some time with my family and gave me the week off. I am on my way home."  I felt my heart jump with joy and began to make my usual sudden mental transition. My husband would be home for our eight year wedding anniversary. I had so much to do. 

I immediately started cleaning our apartment. And, resumed my role as meal planner and cook. Within a few hours, my husband walked through the door. Even though I had spent countless hours planning a book launch for my personal testimony, when I saw his face, I quickly put the event as well as the rest of my life on hold and began to care for his needs.

The next morning was the official book launch of Apologies From a Repentant Christian. Instead of getting my usual dose of coffee and God's Word before starting my day, this time, I put my bible aside and began the morning tweeting links to my book launch page. When my husband woke to the sounds of typing on the keyboard, I left my computer and began to take care of him. When he was “all set,” I focused my attention on our youngest son and our small dog. Next, I baked a cake for a homeless family, whom I had met the day prior. Finally, I began to make chili that we would eat for dinner later that day. One task seemed to lead to another. All the while, my bible stayed on the counter, continuing in patience, and serving as a reminder of what was truly important. Sadly, I had become much too busy to be led by God.  I was about to learn valuable lesson from this decision.

The day of the book launch came and went.  And I had nothing to show for all my hard work. Not one sale? Further, when I attempted to deliver the cake to the homeless family, they were nowhere to be found. The next day, my husband was called back to work. Plans had changed. He was now leaving on Sunday and would miss our anniversary. I could feel my upbeat, positive attitude sliding backwards.

When Sunday came, my husband left early. In his mind, he didn’t even have time to attend church. He said, "I have to leave early because I am pulling the trailer eight hours and don't know where the new job site is located." Now, feelings of disappointment piled high on my shoulders. I started to wonder, "What had I done wrong?" 

After our son and I said our goodbyes to my husband and our family dog, we went to church. We found our seats next to some friends.  As I sat down, I had a heart to heart talk with God. For the first time, I said, "I am angry with You God! I don't want to be in church today. What went wrong? Wasn't I faithful to You? What did I do to deserve this? Why did You bring my husband home just to take him away again? Why did you have me quit my job, and become a writer knowing the career change would leave me without money?" Suddenly, I heard a toneless whisper in my mind say, "Sing to me." Similar to a pouting child, I physically crossed my arms and refused to worship Him. But, within a few verses of the song, I began to sing. 

The two elderly women sitting directly behind me started talking loudly, as though they were the only ones in church that day. So, I sang louder. As if a competition had begun between both the women and me, by the time the song ended, I was singing at the top of my lungs and while they spoke at the top of theirs. People began to stare. 

Further frustrated, I stormed out of the church and went to the back room to get a cup of coffee. At that exact moment, a friend entered the kitchen area and asked me how I was doing. As we embraced, I shared my feelings of anger towards God with her. I could see the surprise in her eyes from  the shift in my normal cheerful attitude. 

Later,  I returned to my seat. The Associate Pastor began his sermon. Of course, he spoke on Philippians 2:12 which say, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.”  I listened to the Pastor say, “We should submit to Christ without grumbling.” 

Then, as God would have it, I recalled a chapter in my own book where I spoke about how I had become so accustom to feeling angry, that I had forgotten how to feel other feelings such as disappointment, frustration and confusion. And it would take a couple of days before I was able to understand more about how I had let my selfish ambition take priority. Could this be what believers call "backsliding?"

Through scripture, a song my mother shared with me and a email on christian leadership, I started to question my walk with Christ over the past weekend. I realize now, that the only relationship worth rearranging my schedule for is my relationship with God. I also know that when I refuse to read and listen to His Word, I  find myself off track from His purpose and will. 

So today, I returned to my bible for direction, stability and self worth. As God would have it, I read Psalm 56. I couldn’t help but smile when I read the 12th verse which says, "Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to you (NKJV).” 

So, even though today is my 8th wedding anniversary, and my husband is 6 hours away from home, God is still with me, leading me, guiding me and filling my soul with love. 

Post Script: Today, from my porch, as I stood in the warm sun, I heard the sound of morning doves cooing. I hadn't heard them in awhile. What a wonderful reminder of the everlasting Love God is willing to provide, even to backsliders like me.
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