PHYSICAL STRENGTH & IDENTITYDuring the end of seventh grade, when I was going on 14—I began weight-lifting to get in shape for the football season the following fall. What I eventually grasped, after playing for one season and disliking it at the time—was that I only had a passion for muscle-building. I enjoyed my time in the weight room far more than my time on the field. Once I fully realized my interest for weight-lifting as a bodybuilding exercise and not as preparation for any specific sport, I began idolizing muscle-building. I placed more emphasis on working out my body to receive attention than on challenging my mind to understand the esoteric of the supernatural or theological. If I couldn’t work out, it felt like a big loss because I had associated appearing strong as part of my identity. Years of this drove me to take offense when anyone would label me as thin or weak, because I tried so hard to be the opposite. My pride convinced me that my identity had to be stronger than I really was, and it rejected the humility of accepting that I was holding myself back from my true potential. My true potential obviously had nothing to do with my physique. But I was stubbornly clinging to the artificiality of strength for power.
UNINSPIRED BY RELIGIONDuring my adolescence, lacking faith in God changed everything for the worse. Unfortunately, I didn’t observe this truth until years after. I remember choosing to restrain my capacity to accept the topic of God’s existence in conversation because I was bitter about the pain in my life. I obstinately rejected the consideration of a world where supernatural forces could coincide with the existence of mankind, where the insidious actions of some God seemed to leave behind a trail of devastation, heartache, and pain.
PAIN, EVIL, TRAUMA, & GODWhat I failed to understand as an atheist, and one of the ways I now relate to unbelievers today, is that pain, suffering, and even devastation are all circumstances God allows so we will call out to Him in trust. What I understand better today is how His response is meant to guide us through our hurt, not necessarily to shield us from every pain. If we never experienced any pain, we would not learn maturity, among the many fruits of being in relationship with Christ. To rephrase: God uses trauma to prompt us to draw near to Him. Another common argument I hear is that if there is a God, He is evil because He allows evil. However, if we believe God causes evil, then we are mistaking the Devil with God, confusing the two by making the mistake of allocating all of evil to one spiritual force, while ignoring the other. We would be dismissing the fact that there is not one, but two separate spiritual forces at war. Ultimately, we cannot have one without the other on Earth. To argue that point, we would have to claim that love can exist without fear—and on the plane of Earth, free will is what convolutes the nature in choosing between love and fear. The choice to love can replace—or override—the choice to do evil (acting out of fear), because in order to decide on one and not the other, one must be decided against. Therefore, God and Satan cannot both be evil, otherwise love could not exist. But since we know love does exist, both of the spiritual forces cannot be evil. One must contradict the other in order for us to raise the dichotomy of their oppositions.
JESUS DESIRES INTIMACYWhat I love about Jesus is that He doesn’t need me to come to Him in some formal fashion, rather, He wants me to come to Him as I am. I couldn’t love Him more for that. Jesus is not just some character in a book. He is as real as anyone you know. I didn’t understand this truth until I was in my mid-twenties! My prayer for you is that you’ll come to understand whatever area of your life this represents, and that you’ll try to seek out the truth of Jesus. I pray you will pursue this for your own sake to find answers where you have none. We can come to Him at anytime with our authentic selves. Your words may sound something like this: “God, I’m not even sure if you exist, but You know me better than I know myself. Please help me to see you in my life. Help me walk away from my distortions of you, and towards the Truth that you are my loving Father. Thank you for knowing what is best for me, and for wanting that for me. Please help me to move towards what that is in my life. I have never tried trusting you before, but I want to trust you now. I surrender my life into Your trustworthy hands. I want to try to do that now. Please meet me where I am and help me to feel Your presence. In Jesus name.”
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