Today I'm starting a series titled, My Spiritual Journey. It is going to become an ongoing series that I will update every Tuesday. Enjoy Part I of my journey!
The Lord first began pulling on my heart my senior year of high school. Oh, I had been to church my whole life and had accepted Christ as a young child, but was definitely dissatisfied with what I found in the church. So I pursued other things. My senior year, the Lord started to make me dissatisfied with those other things and so began my curiosity about what Christ might offer that was different than what I had experienced in the past. My dissatisfaction with my current life grew to a point where I just needed to get away from everyone I knew and find God.
I've always been independent natured, so I signed up for the first mission trip I could find that took me far away (England) and was not associated with anyone that I knew. Throughout the trip, I began to be exposed to living in the kingdom of God. Not just doing things to make you spiritual, but actually living in a way where you were just participating in what God was doing. I was living "with God" and participating in what He was doing. I was reading the scriptures as a way to change myself and become more Christlike and not because that is what a Christian does. I was seeing the world through God's eyes, and it finally clicked that living this way must be what the abundant life is all about.
Then I went back to reality and started my first year of college. I attended a small Christian college because I thought that would be the best controlled atmosphere where I could get grounded in Christ. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. My struggle was different this time though. It wasn't a struggle whether to live for Christ or not. It was a struggle about what it meant to live for Christ. Throughout the summer, I just was a part of the kingdom of God. I didn't do anything to earn it. I didn't do anything to prove to anyone that I was a part of it. I just was and my relationship with the Lord became who I was. At college it was different. What I did came to symbolize what "type" of Christian I was. Was I a half-hearted one because I only went to church and not to Sunday school? Was I not completely sold out because I didn't volunteer in a youth group. Was I sure that my first priority was Christ if I didn't get up early to have my quiet time instead of waiting until later in the day when I could have privacy in my dorm room? Although these expectations were never spoken out loud, they were there in every group of people I came in contact with. I also began to question my ability to actually live in the Kingdom when all around me language and activities and attitudes were justified simply because we were all Christians. Was I being unreasonable and one of those stuff duffy old people because I just didn't feel right about certain things? I wasn't spiritually mature enough to handle the conflicts of life yet and so started to feel suffocated and longed for the freedom of Christ that I experienced over the summer. What did I do? I signed up for the next mission trip I could in hopes of capturing that freedom in Christ again.
That next summer I spent 14 weeks overseas instead of the 8 I had spent the summer before. That summer, I searched after God and just begged Him to show me where to go to school and how to handle the school environment. I just wanted clarity on how to be His child in the midst of America. It seemed a lot easier to be a Christian in a foreign country where you weren't surrounded by Christians. At least to my spiritually immature mind it did.
When I returned to the States, I knew the Lord was telling me to take some time and just be with Him, so I did. I took a semester off and just figured out where God wanted me. After visiting every Christian college in a 12 hour drive from my parent's house, I finally gave in and realized God did not want me at a Christian college. He knew what I didn't at the time. That being in a spiritual bubble was not where I was going to mature. I needed something else. So I finally transferred to University of Northern Iowa and my journey towards spiritual maturity began. ... (to be continued next Tuesday)