It is becoming a larger and larger topic this month. You have maybe seen it on the news or on your social media but if you haven’t, here it is. In the recent weeks, a few fairly prominent members of the Christian community renounced their faith very publicly. Sighting that they “Just don’t believe anymore.” I haven’t spoke or written in quite a long time but after all of this I just can’t help but share a little of my story.
I was saved at the age of 12 at a Young Pro camp at Rick Montera’s barn in Eaton, Colorado. God spoke to my heart right then and there, and Mr. Jeff, Carol, and Hannah Hogner threw me right into the fire. I was speaking at 13, writing articles for publications at 15, had been on TV speaking numerous times, speaking at conferences and churches and one of the faces of a christian clothing brand at 17. I had seen God move tangibly in people around me and really didn’t know God apart from all of that.
Then I went to college. I don’t have a run of the mill slow fade from God story in that respect though. I met a great christian family who took care of me. I wasn’t feeling lost or broken, at least yet, and I was still speaking, traveling, writing, playing, all in the name of the Lord. Like some I experienced some challenges, some setbacks, made good decisions and poor ones, had triumphs and losses some of which I thought were the end of my world as I knew it but In reality were just small things that would pass and I would grow from. It felt really hard at the time, but it wasn’t until later I would have to decide If I really believed and trusted God or not.
It is very easy to sound and seem wise at 19 or 20. Up and till that point I had never had to face any real adversity. In the grand scheme of things looking at the fact that my grandparents experienced things like The Depression, I still probably haven’t in the big picture. But none the less I knew a lot about God, I had seen Him move, and seen people’s lives change. But all of those things absent of experience for myself would eventually catch up to me.
We all have experienced struggles in many of these areas, relationships, goals, timelines, family, finances, all of it. Some people may be exempt from some but at some point you’ll have a trial. For me it was all of them and more, but nothing that wouldn’t pass even though I thought it may not.
In that time I started to notice something about myself. A lot of the things I was writing about or speaking about I had done so without experience. When I talked about overcoming and how God made us to be overcomers, the hardest thing I had to overcome up until that point was missing at a rodeo, not getting what I wanted in some capacity like a goal or a dream, or having some unforeseen circumstance arise that I didn’t know how to handle.
On top of that I was around some christian people I didn’t really agree with, trust, or even really like for that matter. A lot of people were hitting me with hard questions about life circumstances I had not even begun to experience. I started to read the Bible for other people, so that I would have something to give them when they asked. My relationships with other people who said how christian they were and were heads of organizations, who lead large groups of people made me inadequate and wrong if I wasn’t somehow tied to them and there organization or leadership in some way. And all of the things I should and shouldn’t be doing, some of which were true and some weren’t even biblical. It started to make me think, “Is this really it? Is that really the God I serve and talk about? Are these people right? Are they right about all of it or some of it or none of it?” And as more and more circumstances, choices, and situations arose in my life and as I was faced with more and more challenges, I questioned a little more every day. Thats a lot for a 21 to 24 year old to process.
So I quit.
I don’t mean quit believing, but pretty much quit everything else. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t speak at church. I didn’t write for the magazines. I wasn’t the face of any Christian organizations or companies. I didn’t do the videos or the facebook posts with the scriptures. Just quit. I didn’t say anything. Didn’t tell anyone. I still kept one TV event only if they knocked down my door and asked, and even then did a dispassionate and mediocre job at best. I didn’t know what to think. “God, but I thought…?”
More situations, more problems to be solved, more difficult choices, all continued to pile on. I was behind in the timeline I had in my head for myself and that I felt like God had given me. “By 2015 Ill have and do this or that, and then by 2017 I’ll have and do this or that.” Christian leaders would even tell me, “Brit I feel like this is what God is saying, you’re going to be or do or say this and that to those people. You’re going to make a difference.” And it didn’t happen, at least how I thought it would or in the time I thought it should. Which only created more questions, more doubt, more insecurity, and more situations to be solved.
Have you ever just had enough?
At one point, I was pushed so far over the edge I just stopped everything I was doing. Tired and worn out, I was looking for answers. I wanted to know, “God, who are you REALLY? Aside from all the things people tell me about you, where are you at?”
That week I went to church with my cousin, Jonah. When I got there, the pastor spoke directly to me (or at least it felt like it) only the decisions he was challenging me to make and that I felt God was asking me to make would create even more difficulties. But even then God continued to show up in them, one after another while I did my best to follow where I thought He wanted me to go. While there I just asked Him to show me who He really was. And little by little through His word and people he would just keep bringing into my life I started to see it. And then I started to see it more in my business and things I had been praying and hoping for began to happen. People were being changed, healed, made whole just like it used to be when I was a kid. Only this time it wasn’t me forcing it all.
This all took place over the course of a year, and then when I thought I had everything figured out more situations broke my drive, my spirit, my trust in God and in people, and my faith. Because I thought God had finally brought me some of the things I had been praying and hoping for just like he did before. And it didn’t happen. I had been so much more careful, so much more willing, prayerful and mindful this time. I got the same feeling as I did before, “God, where ya at pal? I thought this was the plan?”
Only this time it was different. I had experience. I had to fight my way out of the doubt and confusion the last time. I was reminded of when David went to fight Goliath, he had already fought the bear and the lion before and won. When he fought Goliath he had already had experience. He may have used a slingshot, but after he finished him off he took Goliaths own sword and kept it. He had to go through the trial, kill it, overcome it, to get the sword he would go on to fight with.
This time I knew God showed up last time, He would show up again. I had great, fun, real, normal yet supernatural people around me. I had experience. It was hard for a second, and then I remembered all the things God had already done. I wasn’t reading my bible for other people, I was reading it for me. I had known myself better, who I was, and what God put in me better this time. I wouldn’t be swayed so easily by doubt. I had seen God do things only he could do in other people with my own eyes. I had experienced the goodness of God.
I say all of that to say this.
Up until today I still doubted whether I would ever speak or write again. The world can be harsh, hard, and judgmental and sometimes christians can be the most difficult. I still don’t have all the answers, always respond the way I should and boy do I still have a long way to go. But these people renouncing their faith really moved me and changed my mind because I too had been in that place of questioning God, wondering what was true and what wasn’t, If I was doing the right thing, and looking for answers. I had had radical experiences and encounters, was put in places that only God could take me, and still questioned in times of need where and who He was.
But what if I told you God wasn’t like you thought He was? God always gives us choices. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden. Why, If God knows everything, would He give man the opportunity to sin? Why would he put the second tree in the garden?
Because if there wasn’t a choice between loving God and keeping His word and insisting our own way, then it wouldn’t be love at all. Without the conscious decision to do the right thing, or to love, or to trust, we would just be slaves to God not friends. God doesn’t insist his own way. He asks for it, but he isn’t forceful. He isn’t going to make Himself known where he isn’t welcome.
And all of this leads me to believe as lovers of God, we need more encounters with Him. If you have seen him move in your life or someone else’s, or hear about the things he has done it builds your faith. Thats what encouraged me to write this. I get it. I have been on every side of this thing. It can be weird, abnormal, sound dumb at times. it can make you feel insecure or unsure. But when you see or hear about someone healed, set free or changed, it builds your faith and trust in Him. It’s not more rules, more church, less sin. It’s just more Jesus. As we read and study for ourselves and give God a space to show up in our lives, he starts to reveal more and more of Himself to us. And when he does that we can’t help but to be changed and transformed into more like Him.
2 Corinthians 3:18
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
It isn’t a pastors job to fix you, change you, or make you feel better. It’s not a worship leaders job to entertain you or to serve God up to you in the way you like best. Go to church yes, get in small groups yes, worship with worship leaders yes. Do all of these things, but more than anything behold the Lord, and you’ll become more like Him. Know Him and in turn you’ll know yourself well enough to not get off track or sidetracked by other people or circumstances. Tell people your testimony. Grow. Move. Change. Love people for goodness sake. God is real. He really is. And even when you don’t feel like it thats the time to go deeper, not give up. God isn’t giving up on you, and he hasn’t given up on those who gave up on Him. Know God for yourself apart from instagram posts and church. Use those things but seek Him out. Use your experience of where God showed up last time to bring faith into your current situation. See what God is doing now to set you up for the next thing. Don’t forget or give up on the goodness of God. God is not done. Don’t quit, please, don’t quit
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