2010 was a year unlike any other for me. If I could characterize it in one word I would pick, growth. This year has been a year of tremendous growth for me. I could narrow it down even further and say, ” … growth as pertaining to my faith.”
This year was the first time, ever, in my life I experienced persecution for my beliefs. No, I was not stoned, or burned alive of physically harmed whatsoever … but the persecution was still there.
I’m not trying to rip open old wounds, but it was such an eye opening experience for me. I lost friends because of my religious beliefs. It’s hard to believe that still happens in post-modern America … but it does. In a way, I think that’s good because it means some people still believe in absolute truth. And that is good! It’s very easy to feel discouraged by the, “you have your truth and I have mine” mindset. But yes, I lost friends, I was called a bad mother for teaching and raising my children by the truths of Reformed Theology. It was a trying time for me.
I know the Bible says we should EXPECT persecution, but I didn’t. I thought persecution only came to third world countries. Or to open-air preachers. Not, regular lay-folks like me! I was not prepared. So, it left me deeply shaken. I still reflect on it often.
I’m glad it came though. I now, thank God for that season. It helped me to realize how important it is to have a firm faith to stand on.
“6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Col. 2:6-7
I need to be able to give an answer for the faith that is with in me.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
I also learned that I needed to do some serious growing in my approach. I wasn’t always coming off as gentle and respectful when giving an answer for my beliefs. Note that, this verse does not say we should only be gentle and respectful when we are treated that way first. No, we should always answer in that manner.
My experience with losing friends over my beliefs made me seek refuge in the Word. The Bible is my comfort. It made me realize the importance of prayer. I’m still growing in my prayer life- something that was nearly non-existent before this year. The Holy Spirit is called the comforter, and there’s good reason for that: Because He is our comfort!
I’ve learned that I do have a faith that is more valuable than any earthly friendship, relationship or possession. During all this, I was confronted with the, “Is what you believe worth losing so much?” My answer: “Yes. And more.”
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” Ps. 73:25
If you can make a statement like that you had better know what you believe and why. I am by no means an expert! Far from it. In so many ways I still feel as if I am just a babe in Christ — I have so much to learn! But oh how I love to learn. I love to learn theology, to understand the Word. Church History has become very dear to my heart. The church is the Bride of Christ, why should her history bore us? It is our history. And it is fascinating.
Looking back, it’s been one of the best years of my life. The trials of it were hard for me … but the grace that abounded and the growth the trials resulted in was nothing short of amazing. It makes me look forward to what God has planned for the rest of my earthly sojourning.