Hope Needs Truth

If you take away all of the activity that makes up your Christian life, who would you be? 

I am a mom.  Like most, when I was a young mom trying hard to believe and follow Jesus, I raised my kids "in church." They were in every class because I was in every class.  They were at every service because I was at every service.  They volunteered because I volunteered.  We were a Christian family.  We went to church.  We got there early, stayed late and showed up when nobody else did.  We invited people.  We lamented over lost chances to share Jesus with them when they didn't come.  Our friends were at church.  Our leaders were at church.  Our teachers were at church. It was who we were and what we did. 

As my kids grew into their teenage years, I saw "fruit" that made me think all of my church effort had secured my kids' faiths and hearts.  They loved the church programs.  They loved the youth group. They volunteered.  They taught.  They went on foreign mission trips. By all accounts, my husband and I were raising good, Godly, well-behaved, Christian children.  

And then my oldest turned 17.  

I don't say this lightly when I tell you that I was shocked, mortified and terrified when my kid started showing the first signs of rebellion that I had ever faced as a mom.  Suddenly, my ministry leading, prophesying, volunteering, worship leading, Bible study teaching 17 year-old didn't "like" church anymore.  Oh, he had his reasons, but in my mind that didn't matter.  All I knew was that I had  felt like I had spent this kid's entire life "giving him to God" and now it seemed very much like God was giving him back.

So, after I spent a few days in bed wondering if my faith was going to survive a God who would let my kid go all prodigal, I found my faith legs and I started to PRAY my guts out.  I prayed for days.  Those days turned into weeks and months and years. My prayers were powerful. I read books on prayer and went to the wisest people I know to partner with me in praying.  My prayers were faithful.  I remember going back in my prayer journal and reading the same prayers over his life for three years in a row. My prayers were heartfelt.  I remember laying face down on my church floor sobbing.  I prayed myself to sleep night after night and woke up praying the same prayer day after day.   My prayers were spirit filled.  I made sure I learned how to tear down strongholds, speak the name of Jesus, build hedges and speak life. 

My prayers were wrong. 
"God, please let something be built here that will draw him back in." 
"God, please convict my kid to come to church."
"God, please let someone ask him to serve." 
"God, please put someone in his life that will make him want to come back to church." 
"God, this song was perfect!  He should have been here to hear this!" 
"God, this message was exactly what he needed. Why didn't You get him here?" 

Now, I'm not saying this is all I prayed, but I am confessing that when I got scared- REALLY SCARED- about my kid's spiritual life, I begged God to get him to a church building, to a good program, to a good sermon, to a good song.  And then, slowly, horribly, truly, it hit me: 

My hope was not in God.  My hope was not in Jesus.  My hope was in a building, a program, an emotion, or a human connection. 

My kid was 17 when he started to question his own relationship with God.  And I responded to his questions with pressure to go to a building to see what he'd always seen, participate in what he'd always participated in and hear what he'd always heard.  

My prayers revealed my theology.  My hope was in church.  My hope was in activity.  My hope was in the way we'd always done it.  My hope was in an excellent communicator to tell him how wrong he was.  My hope was in a better friend or teacher or musician to somehow shake the apathy off of him and bring him back to the building. 

My hope was not in Jesus. 

When he stopped the man-made religious activity, I prayed he would return to it with all of his heart.
He needed Jesus.  He needed community.  He needed people to know him.  He needed people to love him and tell him the truth.  He needed friends to pray with.  He needed people to sit in his living room with him and give him weeks, months and years to question all he'd heard other men say about the Scriptures and find out for himself what Jesus said.

I was praying my kid "into church" while he and his wife were trying hard to build a community of people who would raise their kids together, share their parents, create holiday traditions with, be nosy about how they spend their own money, ask tough questions about their marriages, loan money when they needed it, baby sit each other's kids, give up cars, tools, and off days to help each other out, and dig in the Bible to find answers to the questions that really matter.

I was praying that my kid would put his hope back in church while he and his wife grew into people who were praying about how to put their hope in Jesus in a way that grew friendships and helped people.

I have spent the year getting to know Jesus.  I clearly see now that His life, ministry and death were absolutely enough, without adding a single man-made philosophy, program, schedule or check-list to it.  He, very simply put, is enough.  Nearly every parable, every story and every epistle in the New Testament tells a story of how man sins by putting their hope back in the synagogues, back in the high priests, back in the pedigree of a good name, back in a temple made with human hands.  And yet, when being a parent caused an earthquake in my faith, I ran as fast as I could to put my hope back  in all those man-made things instead of knowing, trusting and pointing to Jesus.

With all my heart, I repent.

King Jesus has won the battle for my hope. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Gospel for the Religious

What Do You See?

Do Not Forsake the Fellowship