Link to last week’s post: Lone Ranger Christian
All posts in this series: A Deconstruction Observed
I Never Walked Alone
Deconstruction is a mixed bag. Some people walk away from Christianity and change to a different religion. Some become atheists. Others pass through with their Christian faith intact, albeit changed in some way. I’m one of the latter. But it begs the question, “Why didn’t I fall into one of the other groups. Why am I still a Christian? Why do I still believe and affirm that Jesus is the Son of God who came into the world to save me?”
I could point to a lot of different factors in answer to that question and probably will, but bottom line the answer is this:
I never walked alone.
Even in the dark times when I wasn’t sure whether God existed (and there were many such times) God was always there. I didn’t feel his presence. There were no lights shining from heaven. But he was there.
We sometimes speak of 20/20 hindsight. Looking backward can often bring the present into clearer focus. And memories of God’s faithfulness and his provision over the years became a lifeline for me. They rarely resolved my doubts, but they gave me something to cling to for one more day.
Thus, this is a tale of God’s faithfulness and providence as much as it is the story of my deconstruction and reconstruction. Indeed, were it not for my being able to look back and see God’s hand in my life so many times over the years, my faith might have failed during the dark times.
And although this isn’t one of the memories that sustained me, as I look back one of the first places I can see God’s provision for me is in how he led me to a group of people who would help me grow in my faith.
I had come to Christ through a Billy Graham crusade on TV and then for the next two years fed myself a steady diet of audiotapes such as Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” and Walter Martin’s “The Kingdom of the Cults,” but that was the extent of my theological education. I didn’t know much about being a Christian, but I knew prophecy and cults.
So when a coworker at my new job at Citizen’s Library casually invited me to a home Bible study, I jumped at the chance to go. “They speak in tongues,” she said. “Are you okay with that?”
I had no idea what speaking in tongues was, but based on her explanation it sounded pretty cool. So I went. And I’m not understating it by saying that it was a life-changing experience. It wasn’t the speaking in tongues as much as it was after two years of wandering in a spiritual desert I finally found some people I could talk to about my newfound faith.
A middle-aged couple opened their home every week for both an adult and teen Bible study and prayer time. The first time I went was to the adult study but I quickly plugged into the one for teens. That house became my spiritual watering hole until I graduated from high school.
I don’t remember exactly but there were probably ten to twenty people there. I can still remember hearing someone say “Praise the Lord” for the first time. It was both strange and wonderful. As for the speaking in tongues, it was pretty low key. I thought it sounded mysterious and mystical. I didn’t join in, although eventually that did become part of my Christian experience.
More than that, it became a grounding point for my faith. As I mentioned in a previous post, up to that time I had been like the stereotypical kid at a Christian camp who goes forward to receive Christ at every invitation. I’d lost count of the times I’d “received Jesus as my savior.” But at the Bible study that very first night I said, “Enough!” I asked Jesus to be my savior one final time (just to be sure) and decided to stand on that and not look back.
Over the next two years I grew and I learned. I also plunged deeply into what was known at that time as the charismatic movement. That also was a mixed bag because it both established me in my Christian faith and sowed the seeds for my first deconstruction experience.
But I will always treasure memories like this because they serve as a reminder that even when God seems so far away as to be nonexistent, he is still there, as he promised: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Next Post: Seeds of Deconstruction
All Posts in this Series: A Deconstruction Observed