Why did God choose me, a hapless, hopeless, awkward loner, a mess of contradictions? Did God make the right choice, or what? In cool reflection on my sometimes troubled life, I have come to some conclusions; about my life, and life in general. I have understood that some people seem to float through life untroubled, and other people can live in chaotic, unhappy and even unpleasant and occasionally downright dangerous circumstances in life. Some people are lucky I guess.
What does God’s call mean on a person’s life? What has it meant for me? I can say that I have found out, the hard way usually, that God definitely means what He says, and that His calling is not to be resisted in any way. In living sinfully whilst having His call on my life, I suffered, sometimes grievously, partly in ignorance, and partly just because I wanted very much to go my own way. I have always been headstrong, very individualistic and have often had my own ideas about how I should live. I now believe that God knows best, not only for me but for the whole world too. But let’s bring it right down to the personal and individual level; God has a plan for all He calls, regardless of social status, class, ethnic affiliation, whether we live in a nice area or not, whether we are particularly religious or not and notwithstanding personal circumstances of any kind whatsoever. If God created every human being then any one of us can serve Him, whether we fit the Christian ‘type’ or not.
I’ve been a Christian for over thirty years of my life, but in talking to many Christians and hearing about many other Christians personal experiences, I don’t think I have been a typical Christian. I’ve never been to a church to worship in my life, and although I am just in the process of getting involved in some sort of group worship, I am nervous about this and I am moving very slowly. I don’t come from a Christian background of any kind and don’t even come from a Christian family; I have thought long and hard why God would choose me when I seem like the least promising material He could ever have called. It’s a puzzle to me, and yet somehow it makes perfect sense too. To some, God is the God of important people and important concerns, of large churches that dominate millions and that have multi-million dollar budgets; and perhaps to others, He is the God who listens and walks with the lowly, the despised, the unimportant, the lost, the seemingly hopeless cases; someone like me in fact.
I think we all play a part in life, we all pretend to be the person we want to be or wish we were. I think the great Bard said it best: ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.’ Maybe he was more right than he knew. I think we all put on a mask, a show if you like, when we are amongst other people, for whatever reason; maybe to impress or to look cool or tough or more intelligent than we really are and so on. God certainly sees us as we are, and not as we think we are. I think in all ways, we should be true to ourselves, and try to be the person God wants us to be at the same time. I have found that God allows me to be me, and not have to put on ‘airs and graces’ and try to be someone I am not. It’s taken me many years of my life just to begin to be comfortable in my own skin, and to be comfortable with who I am and the person God is shaping me to be; I don’t have to pretend with God, and if I don’t have to pretend with Him then perhaps I should be just the same with other people too, even if that means I am sometimes tongue-tied, shy and a little socially awkward at times! Well, nobody’s perfect.
There is a great dichotomy in Christian life, and it is something I have been thinking about and musing over recently. As Christians we are meant to live up to God’s perfection, whilst at the same time knowing full well that this side of Heaven we cannot and will not reach that perfection. This I believe creates, or can create, in the believer a kind of tension, a pull in two completely opposite directions, a tension which in the end only God can deal with. We can’t do it on our own, however holy or religious or perfect we might think we are, and without God we might become proud about our religious standing. With Him, there will be an understanding that as Christians we will struggle with two masters; the master that is self, and the Master that is God. Knowing that we will not attain perfection until God finally and fully does a work in us means that we can be compassionate to other struggling souls just like ourselves, but which also gives us hope for a future yet realised, when all sorrow and suffering will take flight.
Sometimes, and for some reason not fully known to me, I have often felt the loneliest person on earth; disconnected from everyone and everything and feeling that I am purposeless and without point or a reason for being. It’s something, yet again, that I have struggled against in my life. I have also struggled with feelings of inferiority in my life too. I don’t fully understand why but think it has something to with my working class background and the (relative) poverty I grew up in. At the same time, I have come to a fuller realisation that I had a good childhood and upbringing and have never really harmed anyone or maliciously tried to hurt or upset anyone in my life. There are people who have had far worse lives than mine. However, these feelings of inferiority have affected my life up until recent times; they affected the way I thought about myself and affected the way I approached life and the way I was motivated to getting on in life. Fact is, for a long time I never even tried to get on, I merely drifted. God has given me purpose, and a purpose in life. In embarking on a new life with God, I feel that I don’t have to look back, only forwards, and that I have the right like anyone else to make something of my life. As for God, I know He wants only the best for me.
There have been a number of cases in the United Kingdom in recent times, where Christians trying to live their faith, maybe correctly or not I can’t fully say, have been denied their right to do so. There is in the UK a growing trend towards secularisation, the idea that society should dispense with God altogether. If someone doesn’t believe in God I personally think it is their right not to do so, but I think that the secular movement, in some ways at least, is trying to erase all Christianity from the UK, and therefore trying to stop Christians being Christians. My view is simple on this; I’m not a ‘Bible-basher’ or ‘holy Joe’ of any kind, and realise that we live in a pluralistic, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan society in the UK, but this means quite simply that we should be able to live any way we choose, whether we are Christians or not, and no one should try to stop someone believing, or not believing, anything they want. I believe that if I respect the atheist, he or she will respect me as a Christian; it’s that simple really, just mutual respect.
I have been honest because I think that when we are honest, about anything really but certainly our deeply held beliefs, we might just get to the truth of a matter. I think sometimes that many people would rather hide behind platitudes of one kind or another rather than just face the plain simple truth. I see the Bible as plain simple truth, profound certainly, life-changing definitely, but in the final analysis just plain simple truth of the most pure and unadulterated kind. I know that I want my relationship with God to be a simple one, based on mutual love and the fact that He has called me for a reason, a reason that I still don’t fully understand but as I get closer to Him becomes clearer. I don’t have to worry following God because He has my best interests at heart; I merely need to obey.