On Nov 30, 2009, Josh wrote:
My relationship with God has been first in my spirituality since I was young. I was devout in prayer, and still am today. I will say that today I am more thankful to God than I was in the past.
I was Christian when I was young, and just felt the presence of God and that was enough for me. In high school I remember hating Christians because I had seen many ugly things that disgraced the God I knew. I set out to know the one true God. I felt that God was telling me, “If you want to know me then pray everyday and I will show you.” (Something along those lines, it was more felt than dictated.) I prayed everyday for a year.
One day my mom dragged me to some church in a shopping strip against my will. God hit me like an awesome ton of bricks! It was obvious that Christ was God, and I prayed the give your soul to Jesus prayer in a way that I had never done in the past. I had to have done that prayer at least five times before that, and they all paled in comparison to this time. I cut my hair because the pastor said that he knew the origin of dreads, and it was against God in one way or another. Did a complete 180 for God and it was great, I would not trade it for anything.
The thing that has been normative for me has always been prayer. People say that I wasn’t grounded enough in scripture, or that I was never a real believer, or they will come up with some reasoning as to how I slipped from God’s grip. The avenue I chose to seek God was through prayer which got me truly saved, and brought me to the spirituality I now have. I learned to trust what God brings to me through prayer. In other words, I would pray that God would shut all the doors on something if it was not what he wanted for me. God would shut the doors in whatever way necessary to get the point across, and sometimes they were pretty painful.
I remember thinking that God was just sadistic when I was listening to the conversations with god audio book for the first time. Just a year prior to my first listening of the book, I was hospitalized because I was acting a fool telling everyone I was getting messages from God. My girlfriend at the time had parents who were missionaries who helped me through that hospitalization. They told me I was oppressed by demons, and showed me how to pray and trust God; it was a similar feeling as when I got saved. I learned how to pray and make decisions in faith, and after a year of trusting God brings me this book with a bunch of red flags. The problem was not the red flags, it was that I had received (if you will) the same messages the previous year and I was clear that they were from God at the time. The book was more clear than I was, but it was close enough to make me really angry that God would ‘betray’ me like that.
I decided to pray to God that if he didn’t want me to listen to it that he would stop me in whatever way necessary fully trusting him to do so. God did not stop me, so I listened. I then grappled with the theological issues for a while, seeking the opinions of others who were mainly just worried that I was going off the deep end again. No one could really help me then, I just had my faith. To shorten this up, I found tremendous joy in accepting the new spirituality, and felt enormously cramped in the traditional Christian church.
I responded on Dec 12, 2009 with:
I appreciate your sharing of your walk, particularly the importance of prayer to you. I am glad that prayer is important to you. It isn’t important to many Christians and that is unfortunate. I am unclear about your fourth paragraph and the references to the book and your hospitalization. Could you elaborate more? I remember that time in your life, but don’t understand what you are trying to say.
My only thought related to what you are saying comes from my personal experiences with other people. On numerous occasions I have spoken with well meaning Christians who have said similar things about their prayer life. They asked God to shut doors, and only leave open the “right” doors. This has led to these folks to engaging in affairs in a few instances, because God didn’t take away the feelings or close the opportunities. It led to one gal being absolutely convinced that she was to marry a young man. She completely reordered her life only to have him cancel the marriage at the last minute. She spent the next year waiting for him to come back to her since God wasn’t shutting the door of her love for him. Great pain was involved in both.
My caution is that while prayer is important, so is a foundation in the Bible so that we know when our subconscious is leading us astray from God’s word. He never leads us from His word, but always in His word. Take for instance, the story of Adam and Eve. Under your rubric, God wanted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree since he didn’t remove or close the door to them being able to eat. But that is heresy and always has been. God wanted obedience, even when he left the door open to sinful actions. The same is true of the Israelites and the golden calf, the time of the judges and most of the rest of Biblical history. But if our basis of right and wrong is founded upon whether doors are open or not, without a grounding in the Word of God, we are likely to be led astray.
As long as I have known you, it has always been hard for you to get grounded in the Word. You have been pulled into many aberrations of the Christian faith. I highly urge you to read the books of Romans and Galatians and ground yourself in the Bible and Salvation and how God desires us to live the Christian life. I think you will find what you are looking for in a life grounded in prayer, mediated by Scripture and focused on Jesus Christ as God Incarnate.