Truth, Honesty, and all of that fun stuff

I feel like if this column is going to be anything worth reading, then it has to be honest.

After all, it would be a waste of my time and yours if it was anything else.  So in that spirit, I would like to talk about why you see my name by the title of this blog and not a fake name

I didn’t want to use my real name, at least not until I’d been doing this for a while.  There are a few reasons for that.

The first is that I’ve never really been comfortable with attention.  I don’t crave it, or enjoy it, or seek it out. I used to go out of my way to blend in, but in the last few years I’ve lost that option.  I’m 32 years old, use a cane, and live in a small town.  The way that I walk is very awkward and painful and as a result, I get stared at everywhere I go.

I’m not comfortable with it at all, but it’s also something that I can’t really do anything about.  Being sick has brought so much attention my way and it’s something that I’m still not used to.  The thought of going on the internet and talking about it while using my real name isn’t all that appealing to me, because I feel like I already attract too much attention.

But a while back, God put a thought in my head that I’ve been trying to make sense of ever since, “What if God doesn’t want me to blend in?”

What if instead of me trying to hide in the shadows, God would like attention called to me so that I can direct it back to Him?

What if when someone asks me about my struggles, I tell them about how God provides for me?

The only problem with that is that I’m not very good at it.

Not that long ago I felt like the Lord gave me a calling to go forth and be a light in this world, to spread the love of Christ to everyone that I meet and be a beacon of peace and understanding.  So I prayed and truly felt the Spirit within me and I set forth and…. didn’t do so good at it.

It turns out that it’s not easy to do that sort of thing, at least not for me.  The truth is that I didn’t want to use my real name on this column because I feel like a lot of the time I’m not a good representative of what a Christian should look like.

I don’t have a halo.  I get mad about things, and the more pain I’m in from falling down all day the worse it tends to get. I’ve done things that I’ve been ashamed of since I’ve become a Christian and behaved in ways that I wish I could take back.

I’ve learned a lot about God’s forgiveness because I need that forgiveness EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I’m not perfect, or anything even close to it. I don’t feel like it’s okay to pretend that I am, so I don’t.  I’ve talked about this subject with other Christians, and they have assured me that they share this same struggle.

I want to be so much better for my God than I actually am.

I don’t feel good about failing but I know that when I ask Him to forgive me, He does.

What I have learned recently is just how difficult it is to forgive myself.  I’m not proud of the way I behave sometimes, and it’s probably safe to say that I beat myself up about it much more than anyone else does.  I’ve always been told that I’m too hard on myself, and I know that there is some truth to that, but when I know that I have acted in a way that is displeasing to God it just crushes me.  I want to be perfect for Him, but I’m not.

He is a God of mercy though. He forgives me and so I have to do the same. If I don’t forgive myself, then it’s like I’m saying that I know better than my creator does.  So I pray that God will help me to do that, because all forgiveness has to come from Him. I can’t do it on my own.  I can’t do any of this on my own.

So there it is.  If you’re looking for a column written by the perfect Christian, this isn’t it.  All I am is someone who God had mercy on and rescued.  If there is anything in my life that I have achieved or any success that I have had, it is because God made it happen.

The times that I actually am able to be a light, a beacon, even just a decent guy doing the best he can, it’s because I serve a merciful God that loved me long before I loved Him.  That’s why I desire to serve Him and why I pray and ask for forgiveness and why I try again when I fail.

I really don’t feel qualified to have any sort of calling from God, but when I read the Bible it is filled with stories of  underqualified people doing things that are amazing. They are able to do these things because they trust God and He enables them to do whatever He needs them to do. That’s the person that I want to be today, the one that trusts in God enough that I want to do His work even if it looks impossible.  So for today, I choose to trust that He would not have given me a calling if there’s not a way to accomplish it.

I was hoping to work some sarcasm and bad jokes into this column, but I’m sure that I’ll more than make up for it the next time around. Until then, I pray that God will bless you and guide you throughout your day and into tomorrow.

Walking with Faith

Hello, and welcome to the very first edition of my blog.

I have to say, I never really thought that I would be writing a blog, and if it hadn’t come at the request of my pastor I probably never would have.  Not long ago we where having a discussion about what kinds of ministry I might be able to do and this column is one of the things that he suggested. Writing a column as a form of ministry sounded just a tad strange to me but when he explained the purpose of it, I started to see that perhaps it wasn’t so strange at all.

The purpose of this is to share the experiences I have as I try to live a life that is pleasing to God.  I intend to talk about my successes, my  failures, and whatever lies in between.

The title of this column. “Walking with Faith,” is a gimmicky one.  In fact, I put off writing this for a week because I knew I needed to have a title and couldn’t think of a better one.

The reason that I call the title gimmicky is because usually when I hear Christians refer to their journey with Christ as “my walk,” I can’t help but think about how I actually walk.

The way that I refer to the health problems I have is to simply say that I am “sick”. Sick with what, I don’t exactly know yet, though there are some theories given by doctors and countless others.

The most noticeable thing about me besides my stunning good looks (and blatant use of sarcasm) would probably be the way that I walk.  When I walk, it usually doesn’t take more than a few steps before my knees give out.  This happens hundreds of times a day. The most common questions I get about it are “Does it hurt?” and “Do you fall?” Yes and yes. I have to use a cane and it minimizes both of those things to an extent, but I still have major trouble getting around. The ever-present prospect of having to use a wheelchair is always around the corner, and while that’s certainly not the worst thing in the world, it is something I would like to put off for as long as I can.

So that explains the “Walking” part of the title, but what about the “Faith” part? Well, the Faith part is what gets me out of bed in the morning, sometimes literally.

Some mornings I wake up and immediately I’m in pain.  It might not be that bad or I might feel like I’m on fire, honestly I never really know what to expect.  When that happens, I pray.

I pray that God would give me the strength to get around that morning.

I pray that His strength would carry me into the afternoon.

While it can sometimes be a challenge to see the good in everything, one thing I can definitely say is that being sick has increased my awareness of how much I really need God in my life.  That awareness grows over time too.

So when I wake up in the morning and I really don’t feel like going through another day of buckling knees, falling down, people staring at me because I’m 32 years old and have a cane, pain and everything else, I pray.  I pray and I acknowledge that God is bigger than any sickness that I may have and that He will give me the strength to do His will for that day, whatever it may be.  I praise God for the realization He has given me that while my life is very different from it was before I got sick, God Himself has not changed.

Things on this planet can be very difficult for every one of us, not just me, but the promise of eternal life has not changed.  So while I may struggle to take my next steps sometimes, the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me has not changed.  Because of those things I can have faith.

The truth is that it still feels a little strange to write things like that.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I had any sort of faith in Christ.  For a long time I didn’t even want to believe that He existed. I led a rebellious life that wasn’t pleasing to God. It wasn’t even pleasing to me really, but I didn’t really know what else to do.  The perception I had of Christ was based on misconceptions and false information, not the truth that is presented in the Bible. Instead of doing my own research into who and what Christ was, I was content to believe what others said because it was easier.

Eventually due to several bad decisions, I found myself with no money and no place to go.  I ended up living in a homeless shelter that served hot meals and the message of the Gospel.  Eventually I came to faith in Jesus and gave my life to Him.  About six months later, my body started to break down and it became apparent that something was very wrong.

It’s in that story (which I’m sure I’ll get into in greater detail at some point) that I am able to see the character of God.

I truly believe that if I had become sick before Jesus saved me, I never would have been able to have faith in Him.  I was a very cynical and pessimistic person that was looking for excuses to justify my negative behavior.  Being sick would have given me just the excuse I was looking for.  It would have given me the perfect excuse to not even try to pursue a relationship with God.

The God that I serve today knows this, and He loved me enough that He rescued me and led me to have faith in Him before I became sick.

So when there are days that I’m not looking forward to what the day may look like, I think about that.

I think about the mercy He had on me and the mercy that he shows me on a daily basis.

I think about how he has given me family, friends, and employers that love me and want to help me through my difficulties.

Then I get ask Him what he’d like me to do today and I get going.

So there’s a small sample of my “walk,” both the literal and Jesus versions.  I look forward to writing this column and am excited to see what it will turn into.  Though I did have some apprehension about it at first, I do believe that it is something that God has called me to do.  Thanks for reading and may God guide you throughout your day.