16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
Since reading Revival God’s Way by Leonard Ravenhill, I’ve been convicted about my prayer life. I don’t want it to just be a routine. It’s a serious battle against the forces of darkness! It is our ultimate weapon! Why am I so cold-hearted about the lost? Why am I not in tears about the condition of this world? Lord, let me be a softer and more fervent prayer warrior.
One thing that bothers me is that there is sin among my family and I. We speak critically of others and of the world in general, calling people things like “stupid morons.” We exalt ourselves because of our great knowledge of the Word and how to be a good Christian. But that knowledge is useless without it in our hearts. Instead of grieving over the world, we look down on it.
“Lord, may I be close to your heart at every moment so that I can properly rebuke others when necessary. But don’t let me exalt myself, either. Humble me, God, and convict me if I fall into the same snares.”
I’m afraid this will be much more difficult when Mom and Dad move here. If I speak against them about their poor prayer lives, smoking, Internet addiction, lack of evangelism, and lack of humility, I fear they’ll resent me for convicting them. But I have many of the same problems! I love them and just want us all to support one another in growing closer to God. I pray that I won’t be afraid and that I will have faith in all that I do. (Hebrews 11:6)
I got to share the gospel with a professing “Christian” at work, but he didn’t seem to understand. I don’t think he wanted to listen. There are many at work who claim to be saved, but they’re not. They’re just like the world. It breaks my heart and I can’t imagine how grieved God must be by His so-called church. What do I say to these people?
I had the opportunity to witness to someone the other night. I had a flat tire, so he gave me a ride home. There was plenty of time to get the message to him, but I blew it off! What a selfish fool I am! Once again, why am I not grieving more over people who are destined for eternal Hell? It’s time to quit messing around and do everything God says, whether it means life or death! (Philippians 1:20)
On a lighter note, dad got $6000 from grandpa for a tractor and calves! “Lord, how incredibly gracious you are to be so good to people like us!”
— January 30th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
You’ve created quite the fantasy. You believe you’re a “prayer warrior” in a “battle against the forces of darkness” and that the “ultimate weapon” is to get on your knees, close your eyes, and think really hard.
It’s really convenient, isn’t it? You get to be a soldier in a holy war, and you didn’t even have to go to boot camp. In other words, you get to feel important without actually doing anything.
I see you’re still walking that fine line between humility and arrogance. On the one hand, you feel guilty about looking down on others. But on the other hand, you still think you’re right to look down on others. All that cognitive dissonance must be very uncomfortable.
I agree that you should stop being so arrogant. Do you actually think you have “great knowledge of the Word”? Have you even read the entire Bible yet? And I’m amazed that you said you know “how to be a good Christian.” Do you realize there are tens of thousands of denominations of Christianity? But no, you have it all figured out.
So yes, please be more humble. Stop making lists of things you think your parents are doing wrong and mind your own damn business.
I understand why that is difficult: When people believe they have all the answers–where we come from, where we’re going, the meaning of life–it’s hard not to be arrogant. Maybe the best way to curb your arrogance is to stop pretending you have all the answers.
About that $6000: Why not give grandpa a call and thank him? Don’t you think he deserves a little credit given that he’s the one who actually gave your dad the money?
Why does God always get the credit when people do good things? If God wanted to help, he could have magically made $6000 cash appear on the ground somewhere and had your dad stumble upon it. Your dad never would have found an owner and could have kept the money for himself. That way, your grandpa wouldn’t have been out thousands of dollars!
Don’t you find it suspicious that things like that rarely happen? That God usually has to bestow blessings through people?
I tend to agree with you on one thing: Why aren’t you in tears about the lost? If you actually believe that billions of people are going to burn in Hell forever, shouldn’t you be more upset about it?
Imagine this: The United States has become a brutal dictatorship and the government just announced that all non-Christians are going to be marched into concentration camps and tortured. If that happened, wouldn’t you shed at least one tear? Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to convert people to Christianity?
Well, according to you something very much like that is happening, only it’s much worse because the torture lasts forever. And yet you skipped a perfect opportunity to witness to someone. Maybe you don’t believe as strongly as you think you do. Maybe it’s time to admit there’s no evidence your religious beliefs are true, that it’s all just a fantasy you constructed in your mind.
— Matt, January 30th, 2015
P.S. If that horrific scenario I described actually happened, instead of converting people to Christianity, the right thing would be to condemn the actions of the government. Funny how so few believers ever condemn the actions of their god.
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.