I asked myself this question a few months back: Is it okay if I took a break from God? I was spent – emotionally, mentally. My spirit man felt dead and far from Him.
I won’t go into details, but I was jaded and disappointed with certain people in my community and it was enough for me to extrapolate these feelings towards everyone else in church. In hindsight, it all seems so irrational but the disappointment I felt then was very real to me.
Isolated from my community, I began to grow apathetic towards church. I didn’t find any more meaning in serving and in building relationships — things that I loved doing — I was just so done. And I hated feeling like this, as if I was just going through the motion.
As someone who doesn’t believe in doing things just for the sake of it, I asked myself (and God) if I was really cut out for this church-thing.
I’ve spent almost my entire life in church; I guess if you wanted to, you could label my life as one that was typically “Christian”. I never dabbled in any vices, always looked forward to Sunday services and almost never missed cell group. I was an eager beaver when it came to serving in ministry and spent most of my time growing up in my church community.
For the first time in 19 years, I found reluctance creeping into my heart. I dreaded going for Sunday services, I tried finding excuses not to serve, I skipped cell group meetings and had no inclination to connect with the people who I had always looked forward to seeing every week.
I just wanted a break from it all. I was jaded by the humdrum of “the Christian life”. I wanted a break from church … And then I began to wonder if I wanted to take a break from God altogether.
I couldn’t find it in myself to reconcile what people were painting their lives to be and to see that it wasn’t consistent. I was finding it hard to swallow the hurt I had felt by the actions and inaction of the very people who weren’t supposed to be the ones hurting me. I was starting to think that perhaps, this church thing wasn’t meant for me.
By the grace of God, before my desire to walk away from church could reach the point of no return, I felt a conviction to get my heart right with Him. But the inertia to do so was huge; it would have been so much easier to walk away.
Humanly, there was no reason for me to stay in church. It had just become a building full of bodies to me. I struggled to find joy in ministry, in people and in worship. And this scared me.
I had to come clean with myself: Could I bring myself to deny the same God who brought me through some of the worst times of my life? Could I deny Him on account of my disappointment with men?
I realised it then; it wasn’t God who had disappointed me. It was my fellow neighbours who were as imperfect as I was.
We’ve all heard it so many times. “The church is a hospital for the broken”. We’re told not to expect perfection from those in church, but rather to expect the opposite.
The same place I wanted to run away from was also the very place I needed desperately to be in.
I hardly think that I’m the only one who has ever felt this way. Some reasons why people feel like they want to take a break from church could be burnout from ministry, conflict or the lack of purpose. I had felt a combination of all three.
Instead of running away, I felt God telling me: “If you want to run away, run back Home, to Me”.
I knew being in church was where I could find true rest from all this weight of disappointment I had been carrying around with me. It was ironic; the same place I wanted to run away from was also the very place I needed desperately to be in.
As I chose to drag myself to church — week in and week out — God was slowly stirring my heart and turning it back to Him. He wasn’t going to let me go; and that realisation hit me like wave after wave.
Running away from church wasn’t going to cut it. To turn away from church just because I wasn’t getting what I felt I needed or deserved would effectively be consumerism on my part.
I decided one day to put all my hurts and disappointments at His feet. I surrendered it all and asked that He renew my heart; I wanted to see and love His people the same way He did. I couldn’t do it then (and am still struggling now) but I wanted Him to teach me. I want to see Jesus’ love perfected in me as I continue to trudge on towards Christlikeness (1 John 2:5-6).
As I look back, I’m grateful that He steered my feet away from the snares of apathy and indifference. My heart, miraculously, has felt the slow fanning of flames; I’m starting to rediscover what it means to love God by loving His people.
Every time I feel myself slinking back down the path of jadedness or weariness, this verse never fails to feed my soul:
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)