You are a bright, shiny, new Christian. You’ve admitted your need for a Savior. Everyone at the church you attend is so excited for you! They take your picture for the church newsletter, whisk you off to shake hands with some of the church’s leaders, and then you’re being hugged by all these lovely, well-meaning strangers called church members.
Perhaps the beginning of your walk with Christ began more quietly than that. For you, other than a close friend or two, no one even knew you’d been considering asking God to be the Lord of your life. Alone, in your room, with no great pageantry, you prayed a simple and humble prayer inviting Him into your life. You started attending a local church and became a member within a month.
Everything is puppies and rainbows, you’re saved! Life will be easy now, finally! You’ve even been baptized, so you’re really in good shape. Nothing can hurt you now!
No matter how you came to meet Jesus, it’s likely you’ve begun to encounter some difficulties in your first few months or years of being a Christian.
Everyone keeps reminding you to read your Bible. They tell you to pray without ceasing. Suggestions are being thrown at you left and right.
“Make sure to be in the Word everyday!”
“Come to Wednesday nights and get plugged in to a small group!”
“Sign up for serve Saturday!”
“Don’t forget to do your quiet time everyday. It’s even better if you do it in the morning!”
Now you’re left thinking a million different responses. You came to Jesus seeking answers, but now you have even more questions. Some of you thoughts might be:
Just hold on here! This is not what I signed up for.
You want me to give you my money?!
I don’t know how to read the Bible. It’s long, boring, and hard to understand. Where do I start? Who wrote it anyway? I hear it was written by man, is that bad?
How do I pray? Normally I just listen to the pastor pray, so I don’t really know what to say. I’m not good enough to pray, so why should I even try?
What is a “devotional?”
I don’t “feel” God. Why does everyone keep saying “God told me this or that.” I don’t hear Him, why?
How does “quiet time” work? What am I supposed to do? It feels awkward.
…..I feel more lost now than ever. Why did I even start this? Life used to be simple. I thought God was supposed to fix me.
This was supposed to be for ME. This is supposed to help ME. Why doesn’t anyone understand ME. I’m starting to think Christianity is about everyone else.
Good news! If you have asked yourself any or all of these questions, don’t worry. Not only is it normal, it’s a good thing. Be encouraged, part of being a Christian is doubting. Doubting is ok! Take your doubts, seek out answers from a Christian you trust, do some research, and you’ll find your faith stronger when you are done. Even though you will most likely never be done seeking answers. Part of following Jesus is seeking Him always and renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).
I have to warn you though. It will get harder before it gets easier. Following Jesus is a lifestyle change. The way your life looks right now is going to change. Christian folk like to use the example of a potter shaping a clay pot into something new to explain the transformation going on in your life. I prefer a more modern example. You’re more like a run down house. You’ve been used up. You’re floors a creaking, the ceiling is leaking, and the wiring is bad. God purchased you for a Great price. He sent His son to pay your debt so that He could be with you forever. Now, He is going to renovate that house and clean it up. New floors, walls knocked down, fresh wiring, working plumbing, and shiny paint. He has a better purpose for you than your past owner, Sin.
No sugar-coating, your first few years as a Christian will be hard. Sin is crouching at the door, waiting for you to be discouraged and give up on this whole Jesus thing. (Genesis 4:7)
Reading the Bible:
Reading the Bible is not easy at first. It takes self-discipline. You have to learn how to do it, just like riding a bike. Go to a Christian bookstore and purchase a study bible. If you can’t afford one, ask a pastor at your church. Not comfortable with that? You can get online at home or your local library at BibleGateway. They have resources to help you study, and you can even click the audio button and it will read it to you. If you don’t have a church, find one. You’ll need people around you to ask questions of and to encourage you when you want to give up. You may have been hurt by churches before. That’s ok, God knows. It’s not God’s will that the church abuse His words and using them as a weapon. He will help you with this, too.
Not ready to tackle the Bible?
Rather than dive straight into the Bible, you can read a daily devotional. A devotional is a short essay that offer’s a bible verse and practical advice on how you can apply it to your life. I read Proverbs 31 Ministries devotional. You can even sign up for email updates, then you don’t even have to worry about typing in the website.
Which brings us to prayer:
Praying isn’t hard, but it does feel awkward at first. Just being candid and talking to Him might feel weird. Plus, since you’re all alone so there’s no one to validate if you’re doing it “right.” You can try following this acronym.
A– Adoration. Start off telling God how great you think He is. Even if you don’t have much to say. Anything is ok.
C- Confession. Admit your struggles and frustrations to Him. Tell Him what you’ve done wrong and ask for forgiveness. Don’t worry if you feel like you are asking for forgiveness for the same things over and over. He will forgive you as many times as you ask. (Matthew 18: 21-22) His mercy is never-ending.
T- Thanksgiving. Thank Him! For anything and everything.
S- Supplication. Ask God for help, or for anything that you think you should.
Don’t stress! He’s glad to hear from you. All He wants is you (Luke 15:7), so don’t worry about saying a perfectly worded prayer.
Write down your questions.
Tackle each question one at a time. Ask someone. Do research online. There are answers out there. Don’t go after every doubt you’ve ever had at one time. God will give you answers if you search for them. Seek and you will find. (Matthew 7:7) Some answers are harder than others, but in time, your fears, doubts, and concerns will be answered one at a time.
Get some new reading material.
Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, is a great resource for big questions like why there is suffering in the world. Jefferson Bethke’s Jesus>Religion is another great source for new believers. Wondering why God has left your dreams unanswered? Try Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn. My dear blogger friend, Pastor Byron Tye Ellis, recommends new readers check out “The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus” by Stephen Smallman. None of these sound like your kind of thing? There’s also Christian fiction by Ted Dekker. The Circle Series is one of my favorites by him. Still not find anything to your liking? More recommended titles can be found here.
Enlist support from other believers.
No man is an island and God never meant for us to do this faith-thing alone. (Romans 14:7) This is why you need to get involved and “plugged in.” You should serve, because Jesus came to serve. (Matthew 20:28) It’s ok if you don’t want to. Just do it anyway, God will help you learn to love His people.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. Each day is a new day. His mercies are new each morning. Don’t worry if you don’t have it all together and don’t understand. Just follow Him.
“God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” -Henry T. Blackaby
If I can help you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Scully Speaks Facebook page is loaded with inspirational images and encouraging words.