The long road back

Let us be honest; there is a mold which supposedly good Christians are to fit into.  I call this cookie cutter Christianity.  For the most part this mold consists of going to church on Sunday and living a decent and upright life with no terrible vices.  Unfortunately this mold also involves the watering down of the Christian message as well as severe judgment on anyone who appears to be either too much of a fanatic or a hypocrite.

A very long time ago, it became obvious to me that I didn’t fit the standard Christian cookie cutter mold.  My beliefs, values and views on living the Christian life angered both the ultra liberal and conservative sides of Christianity.  I have been called a paradox, a lunatic, a renegade, a revolutionary and many other “interesting” names since becoming a Christian nearly 42 years ago.

I can count on my hands and feet the number of times someone has offered me genuine support over the years and complimented me on “breaking the mold”.  I cannot begin to count all the thousands of times I have been scorned, rebuked, rejected and renounced for things I have advocated or done, especially when trying to help someone through a tough stretch in their lives.

Christians are some of the most judgmental people I know.  They pass judgment based upon what they have been taught and thus believe.  Anyone who does not fit their mold is automatically assumed to be a sinner or a wolf intent on deceiving the precious hearts of those who passively sit back and accept everything they hear as truth without ever searching the scriptures to see if it is.

Many years ago I allowed my independent streak to destroy my ministry.  I succumbed to the mistaken belief that I was someone special.  When I lost sight of the truth that my life is hid in Christ and only through the grace of God do I have anything good within me, I failed and I failed badly.  I spun out of control, crashed and burned a quarter of a century ago.

I spent years of my life crawling out from the hole I dug myself into.  I spent years condemning the day I was born and the day I was born again because I so condemned myself for not being perfect.  While others who committed worse atrocities than I went about their merry way pretending they never were wrong, I did what I felt was right and that was to vanish until God said it was time to return.

It took the better part of TWENTY years before God once again opened the door to actively minister His love and mercy to others.  It took nearly TWENTY years, many of them wandering through the dark night of the soul, to get to the point where I honestly believed God still loved me, had forgiven me and wanted me to once again reach out and act as His minister.

Christians waste so much time judging and condemning other Christians for backsliding and/or sinning. If more time were spent gently helping those who lost their way find the way back home; the results would be astounding.  Let me tell you a secret.  In the TWENTY years it took for a once strong and independent man (me), whose spiritual backbone was broken, to come back; not one single person ever offered their help or even their prayers to me.

When God let me know it was time to once again actively serve Him, the incredible joy was tempered by the fact that contrary to my service in the past, this time there would be no glory and no fame.  This time there would be no special benefits, no Rev. in front of my name or people fighting each other to get into my good graces.

I have learned that a servant of the Lord must labor in obscurity and seek to minister to people, one heart at a time.  I have learned this service has nothing to do with ME but rather everything to do with God and helping others know Him, see His amazing grace and get a glimpse of His awesome love.  Because I learned these things, God has allowed me to resume being a voice crying in the wilderness and someone willing to speak the truth in love.  Only this time, I could care less if anyone even knows who I am.

God did indeed throw open the doors 5 years ago and I will forever thank Him for allowing me the opportunity to give, share and represent Him as His humble servant once again.  That is growth, my friends and that is most definitely breaking the mold in a million pieces.


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