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stillseeking

Reluctant new believer with some challenges

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OK. Let's think about it from the Lord God's perspective for a moment.

Yeshua came to do these things.

1) Put right the fall in relationship with the Father of humanity.

2) Put to rights the incursion on Mt Hermon of angelic disobedience.

3) Get Babylon's disaster sorted out. Nimrod, the scattering etc. Bringing His family back.

4) Relieve the earth from the principalities and powers that have been running things largely and instigating wars and human conflicts.

Additionally, the Lord has to be involved in every single day to day action on the planet. Both in the spiritual realm and in the earthly physical realm.

Every thing we do has a cascade of cause effect. Do we turn right or left at that next intersection? Do we say 'Hi' to that stranger or not? Each one of us in our freedom has an almost infinite number of moment by moment choices that the Lord keeps track of and if necessary, intervenes into.

Can you just imagine the NUMBER of logistical variants the Lord contends with, not only in our present, but in our future. Perhaps 8 years ago you said something you have long forgotten - then in an instant in our present it becomes pivotal in the life of another as they remember it or the Lord reminds them.

This is what the Lord our Great High God is doing, second by second. He is caring for His Creation.

So we pray, and somebody gets healed - we say, God Showed Up. This is to assume that if nothing happened just THEN, that the Lord was not present. But He is. We are just too small-minded to see it and our church does not want to admit that there is a spiritual component to everything going on. They are afraid and uncomfortable with an event horizon they cannot see, cannot explain and cannot understand. But the scripture are replete with instructions and accounts of this unseen reality that is accompanying us every breathing moment of all our lives.

It is staggering, the complexity of our lives and the universe that we inhabit.

So let's cooperate with Yahweh and do what He want us to do.
Get of the throne of our lives and let Him be enthroned there instead.

 

Edited by Justin Adams

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I can identify a lot with the original poster.  We almost seem to be in the same situation.  I tried praying a lot, I spent hours on it, for days on end and absolutely nothing happened.  That is the most frustrating thing a person can experience in life.  It is really just depressing beyond all belief.  Why won't God come into my life and change me?  What is the point of praying if God is in control?  I've read the Bible a lot too.  I thought at one point that reading the Bible would be the answer, as it was while reading it 4 years ago that God did reveal Himself to me.  I can tick off the checklist for most of the signs of a born again person, but God is not in my life.  I experienced, God's holy presence, felt a conviction of sin, saw light, saw a vision of Jesus on the cross, the Bible text lit up and became alive to my eyesight, the experience was ultra real, more real than normal consciousness, I felt a sense of sorror but felt peace, all in a few seconds and then it all left and never came back!  I am not in control, I can't pray to God to get God to come into my life as that is making God like a tool to use.  So I am thoroughly stuck.

It's all so hopeless really.

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15 hours ago, stillseeking said:

Update...has anyone else found that coming to belief in Christianity is THE most depressing and stressful things they've experienced?  I've been stuck in a deep, deep depression over the issues mentioned in this thread since about the time I posted this thread.  Been praying, etc. but it just gets worse.  I get a thousand different opinions on anything I have a question about (from here and other Christian sources) and feel like I have zero discernment and wisdom, despite LOTS of praying.  I guess maybe I have to accept that being a Christian means being miserable. 

There is such a thing as information overload, especially when you are asking opinions from others.  When you ask 1000 people their opinion on an issue, you will get 1000 different answers.  Then you are faced with the task of trying to find out who is right, adding to your stress.

God wants a relationship with you, one that is build in love.  Talk with Him as if you were talking to your friends, being honest in all things since He knows the truth anyway.  Then, stop and listen for an answer.  Answers come in many different ways.  Some will be quiet nudges to change.  Others may be a strong move to do or stop doing something.  You may find some answers come from others while not really knowing you received an answer until you spend time reflecting.

Struggles in your relationship with God comes when you try to do it yourself, thinking that it is what YOU do or do not do.  In all honesty, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can change you from the inside out.  We change from the outside, hoping our actions will change the inside also.

Sorry to add to your information overload, but I needed to suggest you take baby steps while giving yourself completely to the Lord.  Growing in Him is a life long journey.  It is not an quick change where all is corrected in an instant.

  • Praise God! 1

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I can see much of myself in you.

What you first speak of is the idea of asceticism. The idea that, in order to live in compliance with the Lord's wishes, you have to wear nothing but a burlap sack, never speak, tonsure yourself, live in a wall or a cave, do the whole monk/nun thing. However, that is a matter of material, rather than a matter of the heart. You can be a bald cave-dwelling hermit and still be sinful at heart. I have prayed for my enemies before, but I often ask myself, do I truly wish them well? Do I truly forgive them? Our heart is what we must focus on. The traditional idea of asceticism is an extreme. The basic idea is a decent amount of humility, especially when it comes to other people; covering up isn't a bad idea. 

On that same note, I do think quite a few people take any particular "rules" and do away with them too often. There is a right way to do things and there is a wrong way to do things. Because the heart is what matters, it shouldn't matter if my backside is hanging out of these short shorts. Because I claim to saved, I can do no wrong and I should never feel guilty. Because the Lord will forgive me, i can simply say "sorry" in the end. For me to claim what the rules are would be arrogant of me, as any rules depend on scripture. Too many people just ignore scripture, though. Also, I am in agreement about OT laws. The only thing it talks about, near as I can gather, is that we no longer need to sacrifice animals to be forgiven.

To me, sin is that which negatively affects both ourselves and the world. I can't make any claims to know what sin is in a clear guideline, but that's pretty much how I view it. 

Charity and good deeds are a bit iffy for me, as well. On one hand, donating to a charity is risky; much of that money likely just goes to sustaining the charity rather than actually helping people. On the other hand, going out and about to hand out alms feels oddly arrogant to me. Like, there's some kind of underlying expectation of appreciation. Say you go to hand a homeless man $25 but he turns you down. That would bother me, for some reason. I think i'd be more likely to sneak a box with donated items into a homeless area, that way they can take it or leave it and there isn't any arrogance on my part because they never knew it was me. 

The bible can be looked at in so many ways, and i'd say this is done on purpose. It is a way for us to seek the Lord, for if it was easy, it would not be as rewarding. The existence of the Pharisees and Sadducees are warnings; to not get lost so much in men's words and to not just focus on the words we like. I'd say it's okay to cross-reference what people interpret different passages to mean, but you should try to come to your own understanding. Also keep in mind that one should look at the bible as a whole, rather than focusing on one line in particular. That sounds common sense, but you'd be surprised.

I have only ever heard one word from God. It seems to me that his way of communicating isn't always with words, typically without words. When it comes to prayer, you have to keep in mind that God knows what is best. Say someone prays for a promotion and they don't get it. So, did God abandon them? Did he not listen? No. He heard, but he knew it was not the right thing for that person. 

If I had any advice, i'd say to relax a little. Life is a journey and we will get where we're headed in time. Keep a serene mind and let the lord guide you.

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If I cannot discussion my beliefs logically and rationally with them, it would seem I don't truly understand my own beliefs, right?   

Absolutely.  I came to belief like you did by studying things and testing things for myself.  My faith isn't blind, and I don't think it has to be.  How can we possibly hope to bring in others with the atheist perspectives we came from and which you describe without understanding what led US here?  By refusing to engage in rational discussions with those who disagree with us, (we being figurative,) how can [we] ever hope to win those who hold such opposite perspectives?  Thanks for this. 

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So, given all this how does one learn more about Christianity and find answers to questions?  I'm a scientist and engineer at heart and would likely have been classified as having Asperger's syndrome in school if anyone checked.  For me to believe something, all the parts of the system need to logically make sense from top to bottom.  That means researching the bible stories, the culture involved, the meanings of the terms in the original language, and more.  That means reading a lot, yet questions remain.  Some topics are more complex and broad views and related facts needs to be considered.   That's how I became a Christian: lots of reading, research, and then finding it all does logically fit together.  Becoming Christian and accepting Jesus was a rational decision based on facts.

There is so much "me too" in this, it's not even funny :P Computer science, autism spectrum, basis in research/context, logic over emotions, etc.  And that's why the *logical* decision to become Christian can be *so* against one's emotions.  For most people, it isn't this way, but it sounds like you understand this possibility and perhaps experienced it. 

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If questions remain, I find it helpful to ask questions but almost never to state views.  By asking questions, one can start a discussion among people in church, friends, or online and see where it goes.  By avoiding any statement of your own views, one can avoid being a target of their anger.  At times, you can ask followup questions to guide the discussion a bit so you can learn more.  Sometimes this is helpful and people will provide great views, facts, and considerations that you personally didn't consider.  At other times, the discussion degrades into an argument among others between themselves while you watch.  Still, asking the right questions and starting discussions can be helpful.

This is great advice!

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I can identify a lot with the original poster.  We almost seem to be in the same situation.  I tried praying a lot, I spent hours on it, for days on end and absolutely nothing happened.  That is the most frustrating thing a person can experience in life.  It is really just depressing beyond all belief.  Why won't God come into my life and change me?  What is the point of praying if God is in control?  I've read the Bible a lot too.  I thought at one point that reading the Bible would be the answer, as it was while reading it 4 years ago that God did reveal Himself to me.  I can tick off the checklist for most of the signs of a born again person, but God is not in my life.  I experienced, God's holy presence, felt a conviction of sin, saw light, saw a vision of Jesus on the cross, the Bible text lit up and became alive to my eyesight, the experience was ultra real, more real than normal consciousness, I felt a sense of sorror but felt peace, all in a few seconds and then it all left and never came back!  I am not in control, I can't pray to God to get God to come into my life as that is making God like a tool to use.  So I am thoroughly stuck.

It's all so hopeless really.

I hear you.  For me, it became undeniable after reading history and old testament messianic prophecies that are just too accurate to be man-made.  We've both got something that convinced us of the truth but feel like for whatever reason, God doesn't really want us to "find" him.  I think many here probably mean to be encouraging with the affirmation of what they know to be true, but I think people like us are looking for something more encouraging than facts we already know on an intellectual level.  I wonder if anyone here on this forum can relate to this depression which seems to be caused by Christian belief...and has gotten through it?  (Others, please don't deny that Christian belief could lead to depression.  Earlier comments detail just a few ways it could, and has, and I can point to plenty more things about it which are, undeniably, utterly depressing.) 

The hope I have, in light of all of this, is that I do still intellectually believe the things necessary for faith.  It's not much, though, because it still leaves me at a loss for what God actually wants us to DO after coming to faith.  It's not much because I don't know if I'm actually saved.  It's mot much because I still know I have to continue on in a reality where, from now on, I must keep at the forefront of my mind the depressing truth that our very best is demanded by God AND is never good enough (talk about demoralizing...)  It's not much because I know many people on this Earth today who probably won't make it to heaven, no matter what I do or say and no matter what anyone does or says.  It's not much because "22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:22). 

I do know, though, that I'd rather know a difficult truth than a happy lie.  The truth of Christianity is that to me at the moment, I'm sorry to say.  It's not good news.  It's awful news: it's demoralizing to be told that our best effort, which is required, is never good enough, and it's utterly hopeless to learn that we can't just have the comfort of knowing that when we're dead, that's it...no, instead, we have to worry about hell. 

That said, knowing the truth, I can't just ignore it and make things better.  Living in ignorance of a known truth is living a lie.  I can't live that way.  I have to make the best of this new situation and hope and pray that it gets easier.  Maybe that's why 20 years ago God never revealed his truth to me...maybe I wouldn't have been able to take it...I don't know. 

There's actually comfort in the fact that there's much I don't know...it's the only way I can possibly believe that all of the horrible things that have happened to me in my life will somehow lead to something good.  If nothing else, horrible things do make you appreciate good things.  Maybe it's God's way of telling me that otherwise, I would have been a spoiled little brat...again, who knows.  Just a few thoughts. 

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What you first speak of is the idea of asceticism.

My mind works in extremes.  If God wants us to love him with ALL our heart...well, I need to know what that means.  So far, the best I can come up with is trying to follow his rules to extremes...after all, Yeshua said, "If you love me, [you will] keep my commandments" (John 14:15). 

Currently I'm stressing out over the realization that all of my clothes are of mixed threads.  It's hard for me to tell which of these extreme urges to worry about things might be because God wants me to change and which might just be because of the depressed state I'm in and my mind's natural tendency toward extremes. 

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I have prayed for my enemies before, but I often ask myself, do I truly wish them well? Do I truly forgive them?

Me too.  Then I spend the next several hours repenting harder and harder until I've worked myself into a self-deprecating frenzy. 

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Because I claim to saved, I can do no wrong and I should never feel guilty. Because the Lord will forgive me, i can simply say "sorry" in the end.

I disagree.  If we make a conscious lifestyle decision to live in unrepentent sinful behavior and think we'll just say "sorry" the moment we die, I don't think that counts as the faith "without works [which] is dead".  We're asked to believe in such a way that it naturally makes our behavior change. 

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is that we no longer need to sacrifice animals to be forgiven.

I mostly agree with that--but 1) there's no temple anymore, which makes it a moot point and 2) Paul made sacrifices in the temple in the book of Acts, specifically to prove to the Jews that he was indeed abiding by Jewish law.  So I'm not sure what the situation would be were a temple standing today.  I'm glad it's not. 

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Charity and good deeds are a bit iffy for me, as well. On one hand, donating to a charity is risky; much of that money likely just goes to sustaining the charity rather than actually helping people. On the other hand, going out and about to hand out alms feels oddly arrogant to me. Like, there's some kind of underlying expectation of appreciation. Say you go to hand a homeless man $25 but he turns you down. That would bother me, for some reason. I think i'd be more likely to sneak a box with donated items into a homeless area, that way they can take it or leave it and there isn't any arrogance on my part because they never knew it was me. 

I understand.  I tend to research charities before I donate any money.  Their finances are largely public, and there are watchdog organizations which help make that info easy to find and even award ratings to various charities.  I like the box idea, too. 

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I'd say it's okay to cross-reference what people interpret different passages to mean, but you should try to come to your own understanding. Also keep in mind that one should look at the bible as a whole, rather than focusing on one line in particular. That sounds common sense, but you'd be surprised.

Well, I *was* surprised--then I found out how mean Christians are, and I'm no longer surprised but disappointed. 

Seriously, a lot of you ("Christian") people on this forum are just proud and mean, (and many I've called out individually...not the above poster...and anyone whom I call out will know it, because I tend to be direct).  Meaner than the atheists you condemn.  Has "love your neighbor as yourself" already gotten completely lost?  Regardless of the other commandments issued to us, that along with "love God" was the GREATEST commandment.  The level of meanness on this forum by far exceeds the level of meanness on secular forums where I'm also a member. 

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Keep a serene mind and let the lord guide you.

I wish keeping a serene mind WAS a choice.  It's not, and anyone who says it is has clearly never struggled with anxiety or depression.  I don't detect any guidance from God--and when adherence to such undetectable guidance is necessary in order to do what God asks of us, it seems cruel for him not to provide it in a way that we can understand.  It's getting harder and harder for me to hold onto faith that God isn't just incredibly cruel, by withholding from us the very info that could keep us out of hell. 

When I speak of prayers that don't get answered, I should note that I very rarely pray for specifics.  Most of the time, it's something along the lines of asking for the wisdom to know what he wants of me and the strength to do it.  I detect that I get neither.  I ask that if I'm the block to my own understanding somehow that God would repair it (me).  I ask for forgiveness for every little thing I can think of that I did, said, or thought (and end up in a self-hating depression afterward).  I ask God to help me love him and know him.  All this and I feel just as hopeless and abandoned and lost as ever. 

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The thing that gets me the most is I will make myself feel bad about sin and then end up feeling extreme levels of guilt, then try to pray to God with my utmost concentration (the mind is actually very turbulent, which you would know if you simply sat still and closed your eyes), praying "thy will be done", asking for help out of the lifestyle and bad feelings I feel every single day for years on end, asking for wisdom like you, and there is absolute silence, no response whatsoever.  And sometimes I will pray like that for hours a day.  It becomes a chore after a while, where I run out of words to say, and an exercise in utter futility which leads to serious frustration.

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On 01/01/2018 at 8:49 PM, stillseeking said:

I'm a fairly new believer (even though I was exposed to and often fought Christianity for most of my life).  I also have the tendency to get caught up in specifics/legalities, which might be due in part to possibly being on the autistic spectrum (as suggested by a therapist, but I don't have the $3k out of pocket it would cost to get officially evaluated). 

During my teen and early college years, I tried hard to believe but never could, since logic always won out.  I remember during this time that I saw God as a harsh rule giver who would send anyone to hell for even sinning by accident or doing something that the person didn't even know was sinful (as exemplified in Leviticus 5:17).  I tried living by the Christian faith as best I could but just *could not* make myself truly believe it.  I eventually gave up, especially when confronted with new pieces of evidence such as the many mythological similarities of the Jesus narrative, and the seeming editing of the story after the fact to include a virgin birth like all of the others.  

Anyway, I'm providing that background information so you can see where I'm coming from.  I don't need answers on those things at this point.  

What I do need answers on this point would be things pertaining to my current life situation.  I began in truly believing the word in joy at first and immediately was able to cut my bursts of anger and impatience out nearly completely.  I've zealously tried to eliminate even *possible* sin from other areas of my life by limiting my make-up down to so little that I personally believe it is ugly enough to not cause lust, I have gotten rid of many clothes I used to wear, etc.  I don't understand what is and isn't sin, because it seems that such would be defined by the Bible, which is interpreted in many different ways.  That is troublesome, though, since not knowing what sin is means that I'll not be able to repent for it.  If I can't repent for it, then I can't ask for forgiveness for it, and it will forever separate me from God.  I'm very troubled by this and coming to the conclusion that loving God with ALL my heart and soul and loving my neighbor AS MYSELF must necessarily mean that I need to sell everything I own or give it to the poor, live in absolute poverty, and dress in only modest and unattractive clothes so as to avoid inciting lust.  Otherwise I'm treating myself better than my neighbor or withholding from God.  This saddens me, because it sounds like a miserable way to live.  It also confuses me, because many seemingly genuine Christians haven't come to this same conclusion. 

I'm already somewhat of a minimalist compared to most people, so I don't have a lot to get rid of.  I already didn't wear much make-up to start with.  I already had been practicing regular monetary giving to faith-based charities (even before the realization which I described).  I don't liken myself in particular to the rich young ruler mentioned in scripture, because first I'm not really rich, and second, the only material possessions I have that I really care about are musical instruments and old paper photos.  

Right now, I spend a lot of time wondering what is right and wrong.  How can I live my life in the right way unless I can clearly define it?  How can I avoid wrong things unless I can clearly define them?  It saddens me that I can't, which means that I'll inevitably be living in unknown sin simply due to my lack of ability to interpret scriptures correctly.  I find no comfort in this and even find myself becoming bitter towards God.  I pray for guidance and discretion but seem to receive none.  I get instead multiple possible answers, which of course just leads to more confusion. 

Welcome to Worthy :)

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The thing that gets me the most is I will make myself feel bad about sin and then end up feeling extreme levels of guilt, then try to pray to God with my utmost concentration (the mind is actually very turbulent, which you would know if you simply sat still and closed your eyes), praying "thy will be done", asking for help out of the lifestyle and bad feelings I feel every single day for years on end, asking for wisdom like you, and there is absolute silence, no response whatsoever.  And sometimes I will pray like that for hours a day.  It becomes a chore after a while, where I run out of words to say, and an exercise in utter futility which leads to serious frustration.

Right there with you.  My mind is also very turbulent and pretty much never stops chattering.  I've come to the conclusion that we're not always going to feel God.  We're supposed to trust that 1) he's there, 2) he forgives us when we confess our sins and repent (admit we sinned and make a genuine effort to turn away) and that 3) beliefs #1 and #2 are correct (eg we got the "right gospel", lest we be accidentally "accursed" as in Galatians 1:8).  I struggle with #1 due to some incredible hardships I've experienced in my life, at the hands of others (eg beyond my control) even though I and others prayed to God that those things wouldn't happen.  I struggle with #2 because I, like you, am not sure if I ever repented "enough", because maybe I accidentally forgot about a sin or didn't really turn away from it with *all* my heart since I would find myself bound to repeat it.  I struggle with #3 because there are SO many variations of "the truth" floating around, EVERYONE thinks they have it, and EVERYONE thinks you should just accept their "truth" as THE "truth".  Obviously everyone can't be right.  This requires having a brain and testing things...and that I can do seemingly endlessly, not really getting much closer to it. 

I'm probably not the right person to encourage you, as I don't have a testimony of God lifting such a depression, providing peace, providing discernment, comfort, etc.  I wish I did, and I hope someday I will...but for now, I don't.  I have a past that was full of some pretty intense suffering and a present life that is, while physically comfortable, spiritually a mess of confusion and hopelessness.  I'm not comforted by hearing that "it will get better" unless someone can provide me a reason for believing so, I'm not comforted to hear that God is "with me in my suffering" unless such presence actually alleviates the suffering (it doesn't), and I'm especially not comforted by people whose idea of comfort is to tell me that somehow the intense pit of despair that the conundrums I'm facing has caused is a "choice"--that is the utmost form of mockery.  That said, I'd say a number of people who say these things have probably never been properly depressed.  I try to just ignore these people, but sometimes it's hard. 

Nonetheless, I suppose that I should be thankful that God allowed me to know that the basis of Christianity is true, even though I'm fairly certain I'd be classified as "learned"--the type of person the Bible describes these things as typically hidden from.  (I suppose anyone who has come to belief should be similarly grateful, before anyone starts railing on me...)

I'd rather know the truth, even if it's horrible.  Knowing that my atheist friends are destined for eternal punishment is pretty horrible.  Knowing that "22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:22), I CONSTANTLY worry about whether I'll accidentally fall into this category.  In fact, the frustration this verse produces might even be worth its own thread. 

Maybe God is trying to wear us down somehow...I don't know.  He wants our best effort, and he knows we will ALL fall short.  Every single one of us has righteousness that looks like "filthy rags" to God.  You and I realize it and are depressed...and at least for me, knowing that God favors the grievously repentant man over the proud sinner at makes me feel a certain safety in this depression.  I hope it's a phase and that somehow I can figure out a way to be grievously repentant and simultaneously joyful.  Yeshua's teachings are full of statements that seem impossible yet are meant to be somehow possible. 

I had the realization the other day that coming to God "like a child" probably means learning as a child learns.  Their parents don't expect them to be perfect.  They expect them to try their best, and wherever the child leaves off, the parent picks up and finishes the job.  Example: You tell your kid to wash the dishes.  He tries and fails.  You as the parent can teach him to fix his mistakes but may ultimately just end up rewashing the dishes depending on his patience level.  Maybe God sees us this way. 

Edited by stillseeking

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