Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeking a Connection with your Maker

I am far from religious, but I always have faith, you may hold my Christian schooling responsible for that, but before you judge, the ONLY reason my parents put me in Christian school is because they offered the best academic programs in the country, faith and religion were an afterthought, if that….not to mention that I was raised amidst many other religions.  My maternal grandmother was Muslim and my paternal grandmother Hindu, - both practicing by the way- while my native Indian paternal grandfather has us praying to trees to ensure safe entry into the rainforest.  How I miss the holidays (read: food) associated with all of these religious celebrations.

Today, I make it to church on average once a month and leave it mostly to my husband, who tried to convince me I need to play a larger role in getting the kids to church, but research shows it does not matter what the mother does, the father’s behavior has more impact in religious matters, so off the hook I am.

A few weeks ago we hosted an atheist visitor from China who did not speak ANY English and through a translator requested to accompany us to church.  I found it a rather strange request considering the language barrier, but off to Dulin United Methodist church we went.  Our visitor videotaped the service as well as the physical church decorations, pews and all.  She seemed to take it all in, leaving me quite perplexed as she did not videotape what I would have considered “more important” and personal events to her during her 9 day stay in the US.  It made me ponder why such deep interest from a non-believer? So I discussed it with a friend who told me that for many Chinese people, being in church and attending a service is a very unique experience.  Okay, I understand, but I cannot help but think about the time when my father who never stepped foot in a church was dying and one of his last words were a request for a Catholic burial throwing the entire non-Catholic family in a frenzy.

Thus, I ask, is there something innate in our humanness that make us seek out God or a higher being whether we’re near dead or alive? Your thoughts please?


  1. In the Methodist Church, and others, the concept of “prevenient grace” is one that may be related to the question or pondering. In it, through my words, is the internal interest a person has that is caused by the Holy Spirit (or “divine love”) to cause us to seek out our God. It is then up to the individual to act upon that feeling and follow through. I believe this is one of the reasons that we, as Christians, believe it important to spread the Word of Jesus so that when this feeling hits – the person is more likely to understand or know where to follow the feeling. Again, my understanding of the topic…and very simplified compared to much that has been written and debated about the topic. To me, it makes sense and helps to connect the unseen/faith with my own personal experiences for which I have no other explanation.

    If you follow that idea, it then makes sense how major events in life can help to awaken that feeling…be it a birth, marriage, death of a loved one, or even prison/death row. These all seem to be major life events that cause us to look inward and possibly be open to that feeling that we otherwise would not entertain. And for some, you go looking for the source of the feeling for the first time or like myself – find yourself back at church that I left years prior for college and working. For me, there was no great story to tell like coming off of addiction or being in prison…I had just spent a decade with nothing to show but work & college; then found myself living alone during the week far from family and friends, with lots of time to just think.

  2. Wow, what a great conversation. My mind is spinning with so many thoughts, as this topic is on my mind most of the time...no joke. It wasn't always this way. I, too, was raised by parents of different faiths in a technical sense....my father was Baptist and my mother is Catholic. Both of them were raised as practicing their respective religions and attending church regularly (for Catholics, that's often more than just Sunday).

    We, my brothers, sister and I, attended Catholic school, as that was, and still is I believe, the rule; namely, that if a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, it must be agreed upon that the children will be raised Catholic. My father, although very much in love with my mother, briefly broke off their relationship as he thought their different faiths might be an issue. After one week, he called her back, and they managed for the 28 years they were married (before his death in 1980) to make it work.....well, at least not fall completely apart.

    (To be continued)

  3. Out of the six of us kids, only one remains Catholic, however he is involved in his church, brought his kids when they were young, and goes as often as he can (works nights, shift work). I question what he gets out of it, though, other than the social aspect, as he has been in the "process" of going through a very ugly divorce for about four years now, and I have yet to hear him say how he's gotten spiritual guidance or relief from this portion of his social pie.

    Here is, as briefly as I can put it, my beliefs. We all long for God because we are made in His image, and he made us for the sole purpose of having a relationship with us. Yes, you heard me. He seeks us continually. He calls to us, to remind us that he is and has everything we need, and will ever need. He calls to us to remind us how much He loves us, how many blessings He is just waiting to give to us but cannot unless we ask. "You have not because you ask not," says God.

    The thing that folks miss today is, well, Jesus. The entire Old Testament is a prophesy, a prediction, a pointing if you will, of Jesus. The New Testament is a revelation OF Jesus....but the entire Bible is all about Jesus. It is NOT supposed to be about the ten commandments, or any laws, for that matter, but if only to show that relying completely on one's own to live perfectly (or, obey the law) brings you to the end of yourself, to bring you back to God. In truth, God is a God of grace, not law. The law is designed to expose all of your deficiencies, but grace (unmerited favor) points to your sufficiency in Christ. Read the writings of the Apostle Paul. Even in the first century, people were already going back to the law instead of understanding and living under grace....it's no wonder that in 2011 we are totally confused. If we keep ourselves under the law and believe that our salvation is tied to it, we totally invalidate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He was the final payment for all sin, and since I wasn't alive then, but my sin is included, that means all past, present and future sins cannot condemn me. Hurt me? Possibly. But condemn? NO!

    "For there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans, 8:1

    Hear that? NONE. And it's your choice. God is still a God of free will, and if you tell Him to take a hike, He will respect your wishes. I wouldn't recommend it, though. It took me a long time and YEARS of dealing with shame I felt as a result of the law, which is really sad, because it was totally unnecessary. I wish I had understood that all those years with the nuns in Catholic school that drilled laws, rules, obedience by fear and shame that God really IS love, that I can only love because HE first loved me. He wants so much for us to rely on HIM for all of our needs, and when we do, he provides more than we need, so that we may act as channels for Him and share the extra, thus sharing love and sharing HIM.

    It's good for us to go to church on Sunday because we get fortified, renewed, revived, strengthened and loved because that is just what happens when you worship and praise God. That is why the Bible says to praise Him in the desert and not just on the mountaintop, a.k.a. in bad times as well as good, because we need Him. He loves to love us, and loves to hear our praises that we love Him back. God truly is the God of love, and he' anxiously waiting to hear from you!!!

  4. PS - It's Susan....couldn't figure out how to get my profile right...ha ha ha!!!!