“I thank God every time I remember you, In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with Joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
I always struggled with the term “coming to faith”. In my case it seemed disingenuous. Faith in the Divine wasn’t this thing or place that I happened upon during the course of my life. On the contrary, Faith was at the centre of my life from a very young age. This, partly I think, can be attributed to the manner in which my parents and relatives expressed their faith. More poignant however, is the recognition within me of a knowledge of an ‘other’, the thing I now understand to be Love. It has been a constant hum in the background as life ebbed, whispering the songs of selfhood and identity throughout my childhood – in this I include the adult and adolescent years of curiosity and discovery. God was never far enough for me to have work hard to find him. He was, in fact, close – within me – working to grow my eyes and heart into maturity: the ability to see, hear, recognise, and respond to Him and His love.
I found however, after my awakening, that life had more hurdles to overcome. It seemed as though the world I had occupied did all it could to spit me out – people I valued greatly couldn’t stay intimate with me as a result of the new direction my heart was being tugged. It’s almost as though in surrendering my life to God, I gave up the world. I was forewarned about this by wiser Christians and had encountered the same in scriptures, this sense of carrying a cross, of hardship, of rejection by the world, but was unprepared for it. For all the encouraging words however, I still felt the sorrow of loss. This was compounded further by everyone talking about having received “peace, joy, Love” etcetera. I, meanwhile, was in pain: it hurt to be – or at least feel – alone. Only one thing kept me walking in this new direction toward the known unknown, a deep sense that it was the only way I could go.
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert after He was baptised. He then returned to where He had come from.
Retrospectively, the world I inhabit now is no different from the one I felt sorrow for leaving. In fact, the Church has the same broken people within it – me being one. The difference is this, that after time spent separating myself – or at least trying and failing to separate myself – to and for God, there is a solidity within. This isn’t my doing. He led me out of my house into a storm and asked me to stand and call out to people without shelter while he built a stronger house around me. The more the bricks went up, the less the wind blew. This house is still incomplete but I’m beginning to trust in the pace of the work and the workman.
Take heart, persevere. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…