Today I Saw God
Why I Choose to Be A Christian by Susan Ward
Sunday was Confirmation Sunday at Floris UMC. As a congregation we celebrated as these students made declarations of their Christian faith. Watching that take place, it's only natural to think about our own journeys in the Christian faith. For those of us who are Christians, at some point we had to make the decision whether or not to follow Christ like the confirmands made today. But that is not a decision we make only once. As we go through life, we are asked to make that choice again and again. Here's why I choose to be a Christian.
I choose to be a Christian because I'm not perfect. I mess up. A lot. I fall short. A lot. I say things that are ridiculously stupid. There are other things that I'm just not good at. I try my absolute best and I still can't do it right. I used to have issues with this. I felt the need to maintain an appearance of perfection to the outside world. If you've never tried this, it's exhausting. Especially when you are as imperfect as me. As I've grown in my faith, I've been able to acknowledge that God's love for me is not based on my level of excellence. Once I realized that there was a God who loved me unconditionally even if I didn't have all my "i's" dotted and my "t's" crossed I felt as if I could relax and focus on just being me. No longer "keeping up with the Jones'" means that appearances don't matter as much. It means that I can be comfortable in my own skin and not be worried if someone will love me. God loves me. No matter what. Always.
I choose to be a Christian because of the community. When my husband and I found out we were having twins we were excited and yet terrified. How would we manage newborn twins and a two year old? Would we ever sleep? In the first few months we had countless meals delivered to our home. We had countless hours of volunteer babysitting so I could run to the store or just grab a nap. We could not have made it through that first year if it hadn't been for the community of the church. When you work in the church you see a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you don't think about. One thing I never really thought about was funerals. People die at some really unexpected times. There is often little notice. Sometimes it's the middle of summer when people are on vacation. Sometimes it's right before a big holiday when people are preparing their homes for guests. No matter what time of year someone dies, I'm always amazed at the hospitality that the community of the church provides. People leave their soaking turkeys to drop off food for the reception that follows the funeral. They come in early to set up and stay late to clean up for the funeral for a person they've sometimes never met. All with no more than a week's notice. I love that community.
I choose to be a Christian because I need help. I can't do life alone. As much as I'd like to think I've got things under control, it only takes one phone call to remind me that I don't. I've done the whole "I can do this by myself" routine at times and what I've found to be true is that I usually make a lot of mistakes (see paragraph two on not being perfect). I also find that when things get difficult I need a source of strength. I cannot explain the strength that I have found with my relationship with God but God has provided me with unimaginable endurance to make it through situations when I've felt alone or helpless. I have found prayer to be the one thing in my life that is guaranteed to calm me no matter what the situation.
I choose to be a Christian because of the assurance of hope. Life can stink sometimes. There are seasons in our lives that are just bad. Whether it's death or illness or broken relationships or job loss, there are mornings when we wake up and think today cannot possibly be any worse than yesterday and then it is. These are the days I am most glad to be a Christian. These are the days when I can take comfort that this world is not all there is. I can be assured that this is not the end of the story. There is a happy ending. There is a Savior who came and fought the Great Battle already and won. And no matter how things go on earth, there will be joy and celebration in heaven with Jesus. Even on our darkest day, there is hope.
I was confirmed almost 20 years ago. I don't often find myself questioning my overall choice of faith anymore. But I find that I am daily given the opportunity to leave. Each day I can choose to follow Jesus or I can choose not to. On days when I'm tempted to choose not to, I remind myself that I'm not perfect, I need community, I am weak and I need hope and then I find it's not as tempting anymore to leave. I've regretted decisions I've made when I didn't follow Jesus but I've never regretting the decision I've made to follow him.
That's why I choose to be a Christian.