Is a crisis really necessary for us to remember God?
“How then did you, as a second-generation Christian, find yourself interning here?”
I was momentarily speechless at this question from my Visual Editor. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because my answer was probably going to be very long and I wasn’t too sure where to start.
While I don’t mean to sound stereotypical, I believe that the beginnings of my story do not vary much from those of us who are “cradle Christians” (believers raised in a Christian family).
We’re the ones who’ve had the privilege of having known about Jesus and the Bible all our lives. We most definitely grew up in church singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. We’ve also listened to countless sermons on biblical lessons, Christian living, sin, faith, and the Gospel …
It’s (highly) possible to not have known the faith – and the Person of the faith, God Himself – for ourselves.
And there is seemingly no “Before Christ” (BC) for us, no conversion story, as there was for our friends who are first generation Christians – and for most Bible characters themselves.
But I also must add that as much as we may have “inherited” the religion and its tenets, it’s (highly) possible to not have known the faith – and the Person of the faith, God Himself – for ourselves.
James 1: 22-24 describes our condition well: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
Forgetting how we look like is probably not the worst thing that can happen – imagine forgetting who we look like. It’s so easy to forget the God who created us to bear His image (Genesis 1:27). And when we forget Him, we stray … Even though we are still in church. We are Christians, but in name only.
A crisis in our lives – in whatever form it comes, often leaves us at the end of our (very human) being. It is that juncture where we are challenged in our knowledge of God, as the Israelites were by Elijah at Mount Carmel.
After three years of divine drought and famine, the Israelites had yet to acknowledge or turn towards God. Only silence greeted Elijah when he asked them, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
But when the Lord came down and displayed Himself in a supernatural occurrence of burning up Elijah’s sacrifice, which he had even soaked in water, the people fell to their feet and cried, “The Lord – He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39)
God was undeniable in that moment.
I remember the moments God was undeniable to me too. I also remember the gentleness in which He showcased Himself, not literally the fire that rained down from Heaven, but not lacking in intensity and power.
A broken and bruised reed He did not break (Isaiah 42:3) and it was with that gentleness I was led back to His arms with His power living in me. Those of us who have been branded by His touch live in our conviction and revelation of who He is – not just our knowledge about Him.
Yet, do we really need a crisis for us to reach a posture of surrender? A very well-repeated phrase by the church community is: “Crises reveals the Christ in me” – and it is true!
But we all know that crisis is synonymous with pain, and most of us would not want to be in that position, even if it is necessary and largely unavoidable. So what does it take for our knowledge to become our conviction and our belief without the possible pain of crises?
When you intentionally take that time to be thankful for everything, the one thing that stands out is God’s faithfulness to you.
I believe the answer lies in thanksgiving. It’s as simple as that.
You simply need to count your blessings. Not just the obvious “big” ones, but the ones that happen every day that are actually promises God has made to you in His Word: Thankful that you woke up in the morning with breath in your lungs (Genesis 2:7), that you made it to school safely (Psalm 140:4), that you have money to buy a meal (Philippians 4:9).
When you intentionally take that time to be thankful for everything, the one thing that stands out is God’s faithfulness to you. When you remember His faithfulness, you will thank Him for His grace.
You realise that God isn’t just a memory – or a memory verse; God isn’t just in the church building, He isn’t just your parents’ God. He is ever-present and all-surrounding. He is Yahweh, the unchanging One. He is your God.