For a long time, I was obsessed with these thoughts:
Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t a Christian, because non-Christians seem so much happier than me.
If this is all there is to being a Christian, it doesn’t work. Something is wrong. I just can’t go on living like this.
One night I did share that last thought with my wife as we settled into bed.I blurted that I felt burned out trying to live the Christian life and that I couldn’t continue. After waiting patiently for me to share my heart, she responded very compassionately. She assured me that she truly believed God had an answer that would resolve why I couldn’t go on with Christianity as I understood it.
After turning off the lamp, I laid flat on my back, staring at the dark ceiling. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t thinking about God. I wasn’t thinking about Bible verses. I couldn’t do any of that any longer. I was simply thinking about how miserable I was. The room may have been dark, but my soul felt even darker.
How had I gotten here? What had gone wrong? At one time I really enjoyed being a Christian. Over time, though, trying to live the Christian life had become a burden instead of a blessing. Christianity was literally stressing me out!
I wasn’t simply tired; I was exhausted. My faith in God was burned out, and I was at the lowest point I’d ever been.
For years I’d been taught that the keys to the Christian life were reading the Bible, praying, hanging around other Christians, going to church, and serving God. I took all that to heart. I even got to the place where I had redoubled my efforts. Instead of praying for a few minutes, I’d try to pray for an hour. Instead of reading one chapter in the Bible, I’d read two or more. Or at least that was my goal, although I often failed. Instead of fasting occasionally, I fasted every week. I figured if these activities were the keys to making the Christian life work, then surely I would break out of my spiritual funk.
The results, though, were just the opposite. I didn’t feel any peace or joy or the abundant life Jesus proclaimed. Instead, I had a knot in my stomach from these activities, leaving me feeling drained to the point that I couldn’t do any of it.
That’s how I ended up harboring secrets that made me feel awful and exhausted. Looking back on that dark night of my soul, sometimes I laugh to myself and think that was when God exclaimed in heaven, “Finally! Mark has stopped trying to hide his secrets and admitted something is wrong. Now I can show him who I really am and what true Christianity really is.” God knew I was ready to let go of my secrets and see a new perspective based on the truth of who he is. I wasn’t giving up on God or Christianity. I was simply giving up on God and Christianity as I knew it.
Is your view of God and Christianity working for you? Like many other Christians, do you harbor a secret inside? Have you ever slowed down long enough to ask what you really think about God, deep down in your soul?
These secrets all have their foundation in an incorrect view of God and inaccurate expectations of him and ourselves.
(From the book, God’s Best-Kept Secret:Christianity Is Easier Than You Think, Mark Maulding, Pages 13-15)