ISSUES OF FAITH: Let God work through you; it’s a win-win

ONE OF THE reasons I write this column, and I am probably not alone in this, is that I am trying to show and even live the joy that seeking and participating in the words and life of Jesus Christ is a win-win situation.

I encounter many people struggling or unsure or baffled by faith, and for me, this is easy to relate to, as I came a great distance, but that, of course, is not the end of the story.

Many if not most Christians can remember the moment when the idea of faith became real to them, that “uh-oh” moment when things in all likelihood were forever changed.

How many times in the Gospels did Jesus perform a miracle and this caused people to flee or react in fear?

“Be not afraid” is scattered throughout the New Testament because the things that people witnessed and heard provoked fear — fear of the unknown, fear of something greater than themselves, or simple fear of what their eyes had seen and heard.

This is a very human response, and it will often clash with our ego or pride — How can this be? you may say to yourself, a standard reflex when things go against the grain of what we may normally think or know.

The good news is that Jesus is all good. As I mentioned last column, if you want to co-exist or have that elusive unity of community, then Jesus is really the only remedy.

Do you want peace? Jesus. Do you want love? Jesus. Do you want hope? Jesus.

We put other gods before us, things that draw us away from true happiness.

Many people look at the downside of Jesus, specifically having to give up some control of their lives, but this is where the millions of people who have traveled this road will say no, the cost/benefit of this is all benefit.

Your teeth won’t instantly be whiter or you’ll regularly sleep through the night, but you’ll know, maybe for the first time, that you are not alone. This sense of peace will travel from your heart to your eyes and people will notice; this is not something that can be faked.

The idea that Christians are perfect or even think they are needs to be disavowed before it gets off the ground. But the idea that Christians are continually seeking Jesus is something that needs more air time. That “uh-oh” moment is the beginning.

We are never at a point where our work is truly done. With every breath we take, God is extending our life for a reason.

When I came into the Catholic Church 20 years ago, I thought my faith journey had ended. I was pretty proud of myself.

However, when a priest told me and others that conversion — seeking and in turn becoming more intimate with God — was ongoing, like forever, my pride suffered a little. But I saw the point.

Paul reminds us more than once that we need to ultimately “finish the race.” That same priest used the analogy “Put down your pencils,” those awesome No. 2’s, when the test you were taking was finished and the time was up.

All of us at one point or another will put down our pencils, and that will be the end of our ever-so-brief life on Earth when compared to eternity.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as we are here now and hopefully for the foreseeable future. This Lent, which is a time to renew our commitment to God, to seek God in a fresh way, let’s do that: seek God in a fresh way.

Begin by praying or simply opening yourself up to listen to God. This is very easy to do, and God loves meeting new people or those he has not heard from in awhile.

If you feel different, you are not alone. This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Read about Jesus’ life in the Gospels. Place yourself there, and it will change you.

You may feel relieved when you have that awesome sense that your life is changing, even that you are being guided by a force unseen that wants for you what is good, though not always easy.

We are really trying to let God work through us, a noble and great adventure.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim.

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