I have a confession to make. I am a coward. A bumbling, trembling, miserable coward consumed by fear.
I fear facing God. I know that my faith isn’t where it needs to be, but I don’t know how to get it there. I know that the only way to even start to resolve the problem is a long, deep, intense prayer. But I am afraid to confront my doubts. I fear that they will always plague my tormented soul – that I will always be “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind,” torn between the knowledge that my faith can never be proved and the dread of a dissatisfying atheistic nihilism that is equally uncertain. So instead of seriously dealing with them, I muster up the will to believe and muddle through shallow waters in prayer. I am afraid of falling on my knees once more before God, and perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much if I weren’t so fearful that this will be just one of a thousand times. I am afraid to deal with it because I am terrified that there will never be a resolution. I am a coward.
I fear spreading the gospel. I am ashamed to look people in the eye and tell them what I believe because I don’t believe it firmly enough myself. And although I can intellectually grant that “the Son of Man will be ashamed of me when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels,” that doesn’t stop me from giving into my terror when bringing up the gospel to someone I don’t know. I am especially afraid of offending people who are older and wiser and near to me. It is much easier to go up to a person you’ve never met and will never see again and to do something that would otherwise make you feel a fool. College students do it all the time at parties, in drunken revelry. My spirituality is no different – during spiritual high points, I have all the strength to approach strangers and share the gospel. But I do not make evangelism my way of life; I do not seriously reach out to those closest to me. This weekend, my atheist mother invited my grandmother to church with me. I couldn’t muster up the courage, but my mom did the work for me. I was just too afraid of making my grandmother feel bad or weird or unloved. Even as we drove back home, I couldn’t bring myself to actually ask my grandmother deep religious questions. I am a coward.
I am afraid of confronting others to their face. I have seen scriptures misused by ministers, but I have not brought it up to them. I have seen Christians swear and had the refrain “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” beating mercilessly in my ears, but not said a word to actually help the person. I am afraid that my challenging someone else will in turn lead them to challenge me, and I know that I have messed up enough to give them plenty of examples to bring up. I am a coward.
I fear facing myself. It is so easy for me to look at Scriptures and point out all of the mistakes that other Christians make without seriously dealing with the mistakes I make. Yet I am unwilling to face down the chasms that lie in my own soul – an unending series of crevices full of selfishness, laziness, ingratitude, and hypocrisy. I know that if I actually deal with it, I know that if I truly live as I am supposed to live as a Christian, I will have to kill off all these parts of myself. I am afraid of dying to myself. I am a coward.
That’s precisely why I needed to write this. I could have written a post about what other Christians need to work on. I could have lamented the failure of the church in some area or another. But as I racked my brain for something insightful to say about Christian culture, I realized that I know more about myself and my flaws than about the problems of those around me. Really, I don’t know what other Christians do when they are outside of church. I don’t know how many are cowards. I don’t know whether they ought to be rebuked or consoled.
I do know this: I desperately have a lot to work on and the only way that I can get the help that I need is to be real with those around me. I pray that my honesty in these matters can spur on others to be honest with themselves about their sin and their fears and their unresolved problems. Most importantly, I know that I must overcome these fears. I must rid myself of this cowardice and become the brave daughter that God has called me to be. I pray that the Lord can give me the strength and perseverance and courage that I lack. Praise be to God for His patience and inexhaustible grace. He knows that I – and the rest of his children – desperately need it.