Monday, July 19, 2010

We Are Never Really Alone

My two wonderful teenage daughters just came home on Friday night from a week long trip with our church youth group. They were attending the Student Life Conference in Daytona, Florida, and look forward to it every year. After all, who wouldnt enjoy spending a week listening to the famous Louis Giglio speak and the awesome Chris Tomlin sing, and hanging out in the afternoons on the beautiful white Florida beaches! Sounds like heaven to me. :)

Our fabulous youth director sent daily email updates to all the parents, letting us know how things were going and what they were doing, but most importantly how the kids were being impacted. I loved hearing what God was doing in many of their hearts, but one thing in particular that he said really struck a chord with me.

In one email, he said that many of the kids had commented about how it was such a great, but unusual, feeling to see so many kids worshipping God, because they often feel as if they are the only teens who are Christians.

But at this conference - where there were 6200 kids from all over the country, worshipping, praising, singing and praying,all with great enthusiasm - it opened their eyes to see that even though they may feel like the only teen in the world trying to be a Christian, in actuality, they are not alone at all.

Just last week I was reading about Elijah in 1 Kings 19. In this part of Kings, we find Elijah hiding in the cave, having fled in fear from Jezebel who had threatened his life. But God took care of him there, with angels looking after him, and insuring that he had plenty of food and water. Then when the time was right, the Lord spoke to Elijah, asking him why he was hiding in a cave.

1 Kings 19: verses 10 and 14, we hear Elijah say: "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

In Elijahs mind, he was the only believer left. He felt alone. Very alone. Not only physically alone as he sat in a cold, dark cave, afraid for his life - but alone in his faith, because he could not seem to find anyone else who loved the Lord like he did. But in actuality, that was not the case at all.

I can relate to those feelings, because there have been times in my life when I felt just Elijah was feeling in that cave, and just like those teens feel sometimes when they are in their social settings - alone in my faith.

One example is when I worked full time, before deciding to stay at home with my children and move into ministry. For quite a while during my employment, I felt very alone in my faith at times.

My boss did not share my faith, and it became evident over time that our differences in beliefs caused friction in our relationship. I was privy to information about things happening within the firm that I did not feel was right. I watched executives use their authority to implement decisions or actions that were unethical, or just downright mean. I saw employees treating each other dishonestly. And eventually I began to wonder if ethics and integrity were just a thing of the past.

These issues were not exclusive to this particular company, since the corporate world is often known for its less-than-moral tactics in every industry. And there were a lot of good things that I gained from working there, including a few wonderful Christian friends, but I still had to deal with a lot of yucky stuff, and in my heart, I felt alone and challenged in my efforts to not only live, but work, by my Christian values.

After God had made it completely clear to me that I was to leave that position, I put in my resignation. Once word got out about my leaving, many people whom I had worked with for years, stopped by my office to chat, openly expressing their encouragement for the new path of ministry that I was embarking upon. Dozens of people shared their faith with me, and some even confided their secret desires to take a leap of faith in different areas of their own life.

Their words and encouragement made me feel uplifted and affirmed in my decision to leave, which was a decision I had greatly struggled with, but I also remember feeling disappointed, because all those years when I felt alone in my faith - there had actually been many Christians around. Apparently most people were hesitant or afraid to really let their faith shine through, for fear of judgement, ridicule, or being left behind in the corporate game of getting ahead at all costs.

Christian teens today face those same challenges. They want to do what is right, but they feel alone. It appears that nobody else is sharing their beliefs or living by Godly virtues, so they are afraid to stand up for their faith, for fear of being judged, ridiculed or becoming an outcast.

And in all honestly, as women, and as moms, we can even find ourselves in this same situation. We dont want to be overbearing with our children, however we do want to put in the time and effort it takes to stick to our beliefs when it comes to what we allow them to do, watch, say, hang out with, etc.

Even when it seems that every other mom in the world is letting their kids do whatever they want, we still feel convicted to stick to our desires to be a Godly parent - which usually results in the earning of the prestigious title of "strictest mom in the world" (or so I have been told).

Sometimes adult peer pressure, or the feeling of being alone in our beliefs, can be just as difficult as when we were adolescents.

Elijah - teens - career women - stay at home moms - Christians ...... so often, we feel alone.... very alone... in our faith.... but the truth is, we are never really alone at all - we are just not seeing Gods army in full force.

In 1 Kings 19:18, the Lord tells Elijah to go back to the Desert of Damascas, and then He reassures him that is not alone after all, by saying "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Elijah thought he was alone in his faith - but in reality there were 7000 people who had not been involved in pagan worship and still loved the Lord! He just didnt know it. I can only imagine Elijahs shock when he heard that number.

Christianity Today stated in 2005 that there were 2 billion Christians worldwide.

Two billion brothers and sisters in Christ is a phenomenal number, and I feel confident it has increased over the past five years. So the next time you are feeling alone in your Christian beliefs, and wondering if there is anyone else who believes that the Lord should be at the center of all that we do, then think about that number!

Sadly, in todays society, Christianity seems to be the one religion that gets the most resistance, the least tolerance, and the highest ridicule. Unfortunately many leaders of our country, and even random citizens at times, work their fingers to the bone in efforts to kick Christianity to the back burner, or even remove it completely from all aspects of businesses, society and culture. As a result, it can make us Christians feel a bit like Elijah did - afraid, helpless, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated, confused, dismayed, ostracized and maybe even very, very alone.

But in reality, Gods kingdom is still huge and powerful, full of countless believers who love Him and cherish Him, and we are one of those many soldiers, carrying the swords of truth in our hearts and lives.

Gods army is still strong, and our God is alive. We just have to all band together and let our little lights shine - big and bright for all to see. We have to stop being afraid to speak up for what is right and protect our right to live for Christ. We have to stop bowing down every time someone says that our God offends them, and stand up and fight the good fight of faith.

We can gain strength to do that by remembering that the battle has already been won -and God holds the victory title - and that no matter what we see with our human eyes, we are never as alone in the fight as we think.

We Are Never Really AloneSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

1 comment:

Pam Swope said...

Thank you once again for blessing me. And for allowing God to use you for His work!
Oh I want to go to that camp....but I think 59yr old won't qualify!