Good buddy Scott approached me recently at the activity I laughingly call “work”.
“Can I ask you a question?” He asked.
I always default to apprehensive when I get that query. I want to start defending myself before I even know the question. “No, in spite of this physique I am NOT using steroids!” Okay…maybe that is a defense that will never happen but I do tend to be wary.
“Sure,” I responded.
“Does Christianity get easier or harder as you get older?”
I laughed because I knew my answer right away.
He laughed in return and said this. “Everything else in life that you do over and over tends to get easier as you get more experience.”
In that comment is the key. We get in trouble when we view maturing in Christ as a human endeavor like maturing in your job skills. My faith journey gets harder if I attempt to follow Christ like I attempt to improve in my job or hobbies. If I work harder and learn more about my job it will likely become easier. If I study techniques about my hobby I can be more proficient. But if I take that approach into my Christian journey it will not necessarily make my faith easier over time. It seems counterintuitive to Americans that trying harder and learning more is not the answer. Quick aside to the spiritual hall monitors. I am not saying that learning doctrine and studying God’s Word is not important. It is. But as I often quote from my friends at Truefaced.com. Knowing truth does not transform you. Trusting truth transforms you. Learning to trust truth has been my journey in recent months.
I spent three decades of roller coaster faith. When I hit a dry spell I would try harder, read more books, buck up and beat myself up because I felt so distant from God. Lots of helpful Christian friends would faithfully remind me that God hadn’t moved so it had to be me. So I disliked myself more and tried harder and God seemed even more distant. And I got tired. I was discouraged. I got wounded again by the church. I had reached the end of my spiritual rope. I cried out to Jesus something along these lines.
“I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”
God does not get insulted by all-caps. In fact, I imagine that Jesus smiled at that point because I was finally ready to trust Him and not myself. I had reached the point of brokenness that allowed me turn over the keys to Christ. I reached the point where I no longer had to be right. I had reached the point where I didn’t want to wear a phony mask of holiness. I had reached the point where I was willing to trust God completely with everything about me. I had reached the point where I was ready for grace. I had reached the point where I was willing to believe what God says is true about me. That I am completely forgiven. I am completely loved. I am completely changed because of Christ. I am completely empowered with the Holy Spirit to mature into all of those things that true about me. At that point the journey began to be easier. And it has remained so.
So my answer to the question depends on who you trust. If you trust in your own abilities and effort the journey will get harder. If you trust God it will get easier. I hope that my friend Scott gets there sooner than I did. But I am confident that God’s timing will be perfect.