Several months ago, I sat at my computer and watched the MSN video clip that recapped Ashley Smith's encounter with Brian Nichols. As I watched in awe, I was amazed by her amazing faith in God. I asked myself, "If I were in that situation, would I have the courage to speak out about my faith?" Would I have enough love in my heart for this man who just killed 4 people?
I could really relate to this story because my church was just finishing up a "40 Days of Purpose" series, based on Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life. One of the purposes of our life is to speak out about our faith in God to anyone who may need to hear it. Since I believe spirituality is such an important part of living a peaceful, balanced and fulfilling life, I am going to take on that challenge and speak to you.
When I think about why we need God in our life, several important reasons come to mind.
We need to understand our Creator. God made each one of us, and there are no two people alike in this world. If we think about it, that is pretty amazing. Many of us can sometimes be very hard on ourselves. We complain about the way we look. We feel we don't have enough intelligence, creativity, or athletic ability. But we need to remember that God didn't make a mistake when He made us. He made us exactly the way we are for a reason and He loves us completely. So why shouldn't we start loving ourselves?
We need God's grace. About a month ago, my three year old was going through a phase of fighting his naps. It was the third day in a row that he wouldn't take a nap. I was tired and needed a break, and he refused to stay in his bed. My anger was increasing every time I put him on his pillow, and he crawled back down. By the fourth time of him testing me, I broke. I angrily spanked his bottom as he fought to hit me back. I looked at him and meanly said, "You are staying in your bed." Exasperated, I shut his door and I was hit with overwhelming feelings of guilt. I knew I didn't handle the situation with love and I immediately cried out to God for forgiveness. I know that my God had grace and was forgiving. It took me much longer to forgive myself, but it was His grace that enabled me to hold my son in my arms and apologize to him. We all make mistakes at times. Isn't it awesome that through our relationship with Christ, we can learn to extend grace to ourselves and others?
God is the best friend you will ever find. When was the last time you were upset and picked up the phone to call your earthly best friend, only to find she or he was unavailable? When was the last time you called on God and He was unavailable? Never. God provides more than any human being could ever offer. He gives unconditional love, complete presence, total acceptance, perfect advice, and 24 hour availability. Wow! I don't know about you, but I wish I could be that kind of friend.
We need God's example to teach our youth. This world is filled with every kind of challenge imaginable. Maybe I don't remember growing up as well as I think I do, but it sure seems harder to raise children in this day and age. Violence in movies and video games, sexual molestation and promiscuity, guns in schools, increase in drug use, and broken homes are just some of the struggles we face. Christ is a model for us to live by and teach our children. It is through Him that we learn how to love one another and live a life of integrity. With God's help, we can be the example our youth need to grow and feel loved. By following His example, our children learn to love, to forgive, to experience joy, to trust, to be faithful, and to feel hope in times of need.
We need God's wisdom. I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't have all the answers to life's problems. I find myself faced with an overwhelming challenge. It is comforting to know that I can cry out to Christ for solutions. God's wisdom comes in so many forms: His Word (Bible), songs, listening to Him speak, "coincidental" conversations and answers that just fall into your lap. Life doesn't come with an instruction booklet - that's why we have Christ.
Life is joyful, but also difficult. We can't go through it alone. So I encourage you to reach out to family, friends, your community, and especially to God. Share your joy, your anger, and your tears. I guarantee you He will always be by your side.