I never thought it would happen to me…
Ever since I was a young teenager, the stories have been carved into my impressionable mind.
The stories of the backsliders, the ones who dropped out of church, the ones the world got a hold of…
They were not good stories. Some of them died young. Some of them became unrecognizable. Most of them were never heard from again.
And with every shocking and horrific tale from the pulpit I promised myself that I would never be one of them.
I wanted to be the one who stayed.
But, as it turns out, none of us are very good at keeping promises.
I am the backslider.
How I got here is complicated.
It started with a leap of faith, but it ended with a betrayal I never saw coming.
The whole story is not one for paper, but I can sum it up for you:
I cared about someone, they abandoned me, it destroyed me, and when I sought healing from the God of my youth, it was nowhere to be found.
It didn’t happen overnight. I held on for a long time. But slowly my faith started cracking.
I prayed and nothing happened. So I prayed less.
I sang at the top of my lungs, hands raised, but nothing happened. So I praised less.
The Word seemed to me powerless to stop the pain. So I read less.
First it was one missed service. Then another. Then another.
And there was no one there to stop it.
I am not proud that I have become this. I am desperately confused, lonely, and ashamed.
But once faith is broken, how can it ever be put back together? If I must have faith to even approach the Healer, how can I be healed?
I’m thinking tonight of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda.
How his faith must have been broken too.
How he watched everyone else receive their healing while he lay helpless to help himself.
He thought that the pool was the only way to healing. But Jesus didn’t put him in the pool…
And I think maybe, Jesus isn’t just the Heal-ER but the Heal- ING.
And maybe if I keep waiting, He will find me.
But oh how cold I’ve grown. How angry. How prideful. How distrusting.
That’s why backsliders slide.
It’s not because we are horrible people, it’s because we are broken ones. Our realities turned inside out from the beatings of a cruel world.
Hoping desperately that God really will rescue us, but never quite being able to believe that it will happen.
I don’t know the answers here.
I don’t know why cruelty exists in the name of love.
I don’t know why God heals some and not others.
I don’t know why separation is a better solution than compromise.
I don’t know why the innocent suffer.
All I know is that I must write my story.
However ugly it gets.
And today, this is it.