As far back as I can remember, I always had this sickening apprehension about Sundays. Daddy would wake us all quite early, it was weekend but it always felt like another job entirely. As far as I can remember, we were as employed by God as my father, the pastor, was.
We would go to church in the morning, skip breakfast and eat lunch in the back of the car. We would then speed off to fellowship with scripture union staff members. At that time, it seemed my Dad was the only one who bothered about forcing his whole family to come along.
I used to sleep a lot, religious activities can be boring. There was a day my uncles conducted a deliverance prayer for me because I slept in the morning prayer session. I was just a little boy who needed all the rest and time to recuperate from the strenuous school week.
Yet, on Sundays, it was just like another school day. I barely heard anything from the children’s or teens’ church. I don’t even have memories of my childhood in church. Every morning, we had to do our quiet time and submit our notes to show that we prayed and heard from God.
How was I even supposed to understand who God was? Even grownups still struggle with “hearing God”. Most people cannot distinguish between hearing God and their own thoughts. These and other people’s opinions or the crazy voices in their heads. I have met a lot of people who said God spoke to them and they manifested strange things. Like a girl who stalked me and a mutual friend with strange revelations. She said I was not meant to eat out, God told her I had to eat only food cooked at home.
I now know that I do not have a need to fit into the system. As a kid, I felt if I could show my notes, stay awake during prayers and be generally a good person, I would be able to confirm that I was “hearing from God”. That, to me, was the whole essence of the routines; the constant practice and the vigils. We somehow believe that by constant practice we can filter out the noise and find God’s voice. The Church itself is like choir rehearsal; we think repeating these rituals will give us the right temperature, the appropriate pitch to hit the right chords.
This is why we have to keep everyone in line. We have to be sure they are in practice and they are doing all that would make them hear from God. This is the “Church” we grew up in.
I am older now and I have come to see that the Bible is accessible to all. We can choose to study what we need, we can choose to associate and fellowship whenever we want. There is no exact combination of activities that brings God into anything. The reason I have this thought is because every time I make a decision, I realise that God has a choice to appear and alter all of our present reality. He has the power to remove all doubts about His existence but He has not done this.
Why then should anyone subscribe to a system? Why do we find safety in these organised activities? Perhaps it is because we hope there is a science to God. Maybe we are not that different from those who think experiments, hypotheses and procedures are the only reliable ways to live as humans.
I told my parents to stop asking if I went to church, not because I don’t go but because it places me in the position to pretend like I am in the system. It makes me rush out of bed, not because I want to truly find God on Sunday. I rush because I want to be safe. I want people to accept me and not dissociate from me.
They ask that question as if it in some way helps them to determine if I am someone who “hears from God”. Remember, like I said, it’s mostly experiments. People are comfortable with you doing the things that fit their perception of how God must be found. This is why many of those who would associate with you or help you on your path want to ask these kinds of questions:
- Are you a child of God?
- Do you pray and study the word of God?
- What church do you attend?
- Who is your Pastor?
These questions would be what would determine if you are “attending church”, the ongoing experiment about hearing God. I personally find this task tedious. If God wants to speak to you as a person, he will find you anywhere you are! I believe that God would always lead you to those He wants you to find His purpose with. This would not be another full time job aside the one that actually puts food on your table.
All over the world, the youth are recognising this church I describe, and they are leaving. We actually want God Himself to speak; enough of the drama!
As for me, I now know that routine has never been my strong point. I hardly repeat movies, books or anything at all. I wonder why God wired me so but at least I know it was nothing personal when I used to doze off in church. It’s not like the message was not powerful. Neither was it that the Pastor was not sharing deep truths. It was all about me and not them.
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