“Okay, God,” I say, “I’m going to read the Bible every day before school. I know I promised that a few months ago at church camp, but this time I mean it. I am 100% committed to you.”
Lovely prayer, isn’t it? It’s the kind I pray at every youth campout, during that one night as everyone’s crying and confessing and the worship leader is quietly singing while lightly strumming a guitar. If you’re anything like me, having grown up at church and VBS and Veggie Tales, you know what I’m talking about.
But that prayer is what I pray over and over again. And it’s only during camp or youth group or sometimes church. You see, my heart is in that prayer, but only for that night. The next few days I might wake up early to read my Bible, but by the end of the week the passion is gone. Maybe I sleep through my alarm clock. I tell myself I’ll read it after school. I’ll do it on the bus. I forget.
I make God promises thousands of times, and each time I break it.
Have you ever been at some church camp and you’re learning how to hear from God? I remember one time, during a Hearing God session, I went into an empty room, closed the door, and sat down on the floor facing the wall. Then I began pouring my heart out to God.Telling him everything–my problems, my fears, my failures. I admitted that I usually only talked to him and didn’t wait to listen. So this time, after a while of rambling, I shut my mouth and listened.
My eyes wandered around the room. I was in a classroom for ages 4-5 at my church. There were handprints decorated on paper, and cute animal stickers stuck to the walls. Yellows and greens were painted on the walls. I still remembered not long ago when we had built the church, when it smelled so new and fresh.
Then I realized I was supposed to be listening for God. Except, my mind didn’t allow me to concentrate.
So I began praying again, asking for help to hear him and confessing more failures of being a Christian. I abandoned my grand idea of hearing God’s audible voice, and instead finally gave up and left the room.
You see, I don’t fear God. I don’t really believe, in my heart, that he’s completely capable of everything he says he is. I struggle with understanding his power, and I don’t think much of the consequences of sin. I don’t know anything of holy.
It’s interesting because I spend a lot of time with elementary kids during church. My mom is the kid’s pastor, so I volunteer there with grade three kids. Honestly, I love it. The kids are great, and it’s so fun. I get to help teach them about Jesus and the Bible and being kind and the story of Jonah. But honestly, I don’t exactly know what I”m talking about.
I teach them about God and how big he is, but I don’t know how big God is. I think he’s small, dare I say insignificant, a good guy helping us do good things. Sure, I know in my heart that he’s bigger than anything I can comprehend, that he’s our Lord and creator of everything. But I’m a selfish, stupid human. I don’t understand that.
I can’t understand.
I cannot fathom God. The idea that Jesus DIED for ME doesn’t make sense. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that my sins, those small sins that I label “tiny” and “unimportant”, nailed God himself, creator of everything, creator of ME, to the cross. That lie caused God to cry, not only in sadness but also in pain. That mean joke I made about my friend stabbed into his wrist. Most of all, I don’t understand that I KILLED GOD.
I killed God.
It’s weird because I teach kids about Jesus dying on the cross. I pray, “Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for our sins. We love you. Amen,” to eight-year-olds. But do I have any idea what that means?
No. No, I don’t. I will never fully understand it.
All I can do is admit my failures and beg God for forgiveness. Maybe write about it. Pray about it. Talk about it.
I know nothing of holy.