Back a couple of weeks ago, I put up a post called, What’s Your Story. In it I had the following request from you:
I think there are many people who read this blog that have a story to tell. I want to hear it. It can be how God has worked in your marriage? An issue you have had or still have that you are struggling with? Something that your wife does that makes you feel respected? Something that has taught you how to be a better leader in your family? Something that you had to overcome and how you did it? Your story might not fall into any of those categories but I still want to hear it.
So, what’s your story? Email your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I post your story I can use your name or post it anonymously. I do not mind changing a few of the specifics slightly if it is needed to help keep the story anonymous. Thanks for your help and I am sure that your story may have an impact on helping someone else that may be struggling with something in their lives if it is nothing more than knowing that they are not alone.
I have heard from several people since then that want to share their story. Several are working on their story to share with us. The first story from a reader that I would like to share comes from a man who had to go through restoring his faith after being involved with a cult. I left the name of the church out because I think all churches have their own flaws when it comes to pointing people toward God.
A.W. Tozer, in his book The Pursuit of God, says, “Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations, and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.”
I am struggling with how to go about this story-there are so many things involved I’m afraid most Christians would not understand…
Let me start by telling you a little about myself. For most of our Christian lives my wife and I were involved in a church that most Christians consider to be a cult. I don’t like that term because it seems to pass judgement. I still believe that many of the members are sincere in thinking that they are serving God and have a sincere devotion to Jesus. We have not been in contact with anyone from the church for at least 15 years, although my wife occasionally talks to some former members that she was close to.
During that time, until about a year ago, I would describe my life as walking through the Valley of Despair. I had long decided that much of what is taught in churches today was lacking. The church that I was a part of put a great deal of emphasis on controlling it’s members, and I decided that if God was not in control of my life, no one would be. Foolishly, I thought I was wise enough to avoid the snares of sin on my own.
When I left the church I thought that God was hiding His face from me. I knew He had a plan for me, but I knew I was missing something, but couldn’t get my head around what it could be. The church stressed Bible study and interpretation as all important. If you did not agree with their teaching, you were not a Christian. In other churches you could be, but here you could not. This is the lie that I lived when I left. I tried many times over those years to return to my devotions, to reading the Bible, to prayer, to professing my love for Jesus, but it always seemed to be empty and hollow. I felt I could not honor my Lord as he deserved, so I decided to cast myself as condemned and deserving to be cast into Hell. I let this take hold of how I treated everyone, including my wife and family.
I don’t remember what led me to the point when I believed that God began to restore me, but I DO recall, and cling to the scripture that He used from Genesis 3.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
The thing that struck me like a sledgehammer to my perception of reality was this phrase, “Who told you that you were naked?” I realized that, like Eve, I bought into the lie that I needed to add something to what God had created, when He brought me into this world. By so believing I insulted my Maker, and all my sin proceeded from this. It was the sin of arrogance, believing the love for Him that He put inside me was not enough.
This is an ongoing journey, and I don’t know where it will lead me. I now question EVERYTHING that I once held as true, apart from the doctrine of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. One thing I do-I trust that He will lead me into the truth, and the truth will set me free. This is me peeking out from behind my walls-accept it if you can. I am not aware of any deception, but I’m not thereby acquitted.
Thanks to this reader for sharing his story. To end I would like to quote A.W. Tozer once again, “When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies our great woe. If we omit the “and” we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.”