Thank God it was Only Four Years

Ephesians 5:16 proclaims that “…the days are evil.”

I was in the church. Serving. Teaching. Praying.

For 4 years.

Without knowing God.

For those of you who’ve talked to me much lately, I’ve been talking a lot about knowing God.

On the surface, it probably seems like arrogance when I say that I know Him. Like I’m bragging.

Or maybe it seems like a line that Christians use to separate themselves from the rest of the world.

But the truth is that my soul is currently grieved with the difference between knowing God and everything that seems like knowing Him, but isn’t.

In those first four years of my relationship with the church, no one – and I mean NO ONE – would have accused me of being luke-warm. I was an attender for about 6 months before I was volunteering in the nursery, then the 4-6 grade classes, then the teen group. I was that person who drove 45 minutes to church and 45 minutes home at least three times a week. I was the one who lived and breathed the church. I sacrificed fun, family, future, friends, etc… on the altar of CHURCH.

I had my C.S. Lewis books – my Elizabeth Elliot and Francis Schaefer – but I didn’t have God.

“I walked in the sunshine with a scholar who had effectively forfeited his prospects of academic advancement by clashing with church dignitaries over the gospel of grace. ‘But it doesn’t matter,’ he said at length, ‘for I’ve known God and they haven’t.’ The remark was a mere parenthesis, a passing comment on something I had said, but it has stuck with me, and set me thinking. Not many of us, I think, would ever naturally say that we have known God. The words imply a definiteness and matter-of-factness of experience to which most of us, if we are honest, have to admit that we are still strangers.”

J.I. Packer “The People Who Know Their God”

I don’t know exactly when I caught that first glimpse of the living God.

It was probably at that same Bible study when Dave explained the beauty of a God Who chooses us.

But prior to that moment, I hadn’t any idea that I didn’t know God.

Of course I knew Him.

How could I not?

That’s what’s so crazy about it.

A person can be so irretrievably lost in the church, knowing its ins and outs so completely that she never feel the need to know God.

That’s why my heart is for the lifers.

The ones who’ve been in the church forever and seem to be doing just fine.

They give the right answer at Bible study.

They have the right bumper stickers.

They watch the right movies.

But they’ve never known the stirring of the Spirit in their hearts, the whispers of a Father’s love, or the conviction of crucified Christ.

I see myself in them.

And it is only be the grace of God that it was just 4 years rather than a lifetime.

It is by grace that He’s let me know Him for 6 or 7 years and counting. For eternity.

That eternity that I don’t deserve and those 4 years of being lost were all I could think about when I read Ephesians 5:16 last week.

The days are evil.


3 thoughts on “Thank God it was Only Four Years

  1. I was reading John Piper’s, WHEN I DON’T DESIRE GOD: HOW TO FIGHT FOR JOY, and I came across a quote that I think perfectly describes my trouble during those 4 years:

    “Oh, how easy it is to think we are what we ought to be when the emotions are made peripheral. Mere thoughts and mere deeds are manageable by the carnal, religious mind.”

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