This post may sound shocking to most people. I am a lifelong Christian and over the years my relationship with Christ has strengthened tenfold. I’ve been through tough times in life and in those tough times, that’s when God’s love for me shined the brightest and when I realized I needed him the most. I always encourage other to strengthen their relationships with God and to read their bibles and to pray more. I myself have been on a schedule of waking up by 5am every morning so I’d have enough time to read my daily bible plan (a verse or two from the old testament, a verse of two from the new testament, a psalm, and a proverb) and to pray. I know that by reading my bible and praying first thing in the morning, I’m more likely to have a better day. Spending this time with God helps to set the mood. It makes it so I go into work more relaxed, happier, and humble. So why would I choose to go Godless for 2 weeks straight?
Well, to start, it wasn’t intentional at all. It happened accidentally and then before I knew it God was almost completely out of my life for 2 weeks.
It started the week of January 17th. I was suffering a pinched nerve that made it very difficult to walk, let alone move. I needed to stay in that weekend to recover, so church was out of the question that week. But I still made an attempt to be there even if I couldn’t be there in person. I read my bible. I prayed. I listened to the live streaming of the church sermon from home. I followed it up by listening to John MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos sermons that I’ve recently come to love after being introduced to them from a fellow member of my church. I figured it was “good enough”.
But it wasn’t.
I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life at the time. I’ve been very busy. You’re never too busy for God, but I thought I was. God was beginning to slip out of my life. He definitely wasn’t a priority like he should’ve been. One day I’d skip reading my bible and praying. “I’ll just read two days worth of plans and pray more tomorrow. I can say silent prayers — God will hear me,” I said. But one day without bible reading and prayers turned into 2 days and 2 days turned into 3 and before I knew it I went more than a full week without cracking my bible open once.
My church attendance didn’t improve, either. We got hit with a blizzard last weekend and my church, like most churches in the area, was forced to close. Not that I would’ve went anyway (I’m not sure if I would have honestly).
Once God started to slip out of my life, I had a harder and harder time bringing him back into my life. I have been going through some challenging times in my life. Whenever I think I have my life all figured out, it doesn’t quite go as planned. I think I know what I want in my life and when I don’t get my way (even though it just means God has something better in store for me), I feel discouraged and defeated.
To be honest — I got angry at the world — everyone and everything in it. Beyond that, I was angry at God. I was angry at God for not answering my prayers and giving me the things I wanted in life. I felt like I had to close my book and end my relationship with him as a form of punishment. But in the end, I’m the one that suffered. Here’s what happened when I went Godless for 2 weeks.
1. I suffered depression. I feel like every day for the past 2 weeks my mom has yelled at me for being depressed. She said she’d kick my butt if I didn’t learn how to smile. My dad has been a bit concerned about me, too. And they are both right: I was depressed. Days felt way too long. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to see people. I didn’t want to really live my life. I wanted to eat, sleep, and lay in bed watching TV until I fell asleep. A night in with beer, Fireball, ice cream, and Netflix sounded great. Except I didn’t just want that on Friday night after a hard day of work. I wanted it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every moment of every day. Having to do something relevant and meaningful in my life seemed like a bother. I didn’t think I had the ability to do anything meaningful either, because I felt like a completely useless, worthless, waste-of-space human being. Depression will do that to you. Had I have just turned to God and opened my bible then I might have read Psalm 139:14 which would have reminded that “I am fearful and wonderfully made.” This verse alone could have helped me to fight against my crippling depression.
2. I became lazy. This goes hand and hand with the depression. Getting out of bed seemed to take up all of my energy. Putting effort into my appearance was just asking for too much. Ask me when the last time I’ve been to the gym was — can’t remember the answer to that. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix and not much else.
3. I became worldly. Netflix was a really great invention. Arguably, it’s one of the greatest inventions in the world (okay, I may be taking this a little too far here). But it’s still a worldly invention. Romans 12:2 reminds us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Again, have I had taken the time to open my bible during this 2-week period, I may have been reminded of this. Instead I became very much conformed to the world. Netflix became the center of my life. I wanted more and more worldly things (none of which could ever satisfy me or bring me happiness) and I became jealous of everyone who seemed to have more worldly items than I did. I based my happiness off of these worldly things, not my relationship with God. This was a huge mistake. 1 John 2:15-17 states, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Pastor John Piper further elaborates on this in his sermon titled Do Not Love the World. Simply put, we cannot love both God and the world. When we choose to love the world, which is precisely what I was doing, we can never be completely satisfied. This is because the things of the world are temporary but God’s love will endure forever (See Psalm 136).
4. I became prideful. The bible warns over and over again on the dangers of becoming prideful. I feel like this is one of the things I struggle with the most as a Christian, and once I remove God from my life my pridefulness becomes out of control. I did just as Deuteronomy 8:14 states, “Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.” I became a pretty stuck-up, stubborn, nasty person who felt she had special entitlements and that the world owed her everything. I was far from humble or appreciative of what I had. And then I experienced just what 2 Chronicles 26:16 warns us of, “His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.” My unfaithfulness to God lead me to become more prideful, which ultimately led to my downfall.
5. I couldn’t get along with anyone. No one likes a prideful or miserable person, so this shouldn’t be all that surprising. I am normally a pretty easy-going and never have a problem with anyone. But during my 2 Godless weeks I really struggled to get along with people. Everyone got on my nerves and bothered me. Some people were just trying to be nice and help me, but I didn’t want to hear it. My pride often got in the way and I felt I was above them. When someone didn’t feed into my pride, I hated them. I definitely didn’t do a good job of following the second most important commandment, “Love thy neighbor” (see Mark 12:31). I didn’t really love much of anyone.
6. My anxiety and paranoia took a turn for the worst. I became much more paranoid and anxious. I worried constantly. I thought everyone hated me and was out to get me. I always seen the worst in things, not the best, and I’d play false negative scenarios out in my head. Matthew 6:25-27 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?” When God is a part of our daily lives, we know that he will always take care of us and supply our every need. But when we remove God from our lives, it becomes all too easy to forget that. Instead, we choose to worry even though we have nothing to worry about.
7. I became blind. God never let me down or stopped loving me. He never failed me a day of my life and he never will. Yes, he didn’t give me what I want in my life, but if past experiences have taught me anything it’s that the reason I didn’t get what I asked for or what I think I want is because God has something better in line for me. Without God in my life I became so blind that I couldn’t even see all of the incredible blessings that he have bestowed upon me. Take for instance my hearing appointment on Thursday. It was my first hearing test with my new cochlear implant. Prior to receiving that cochlear implant I had less than 7% of my hearing in that ear. I scored a 34% on my word recognition test. I viewed that as “failing” the test and being a horrible thing. All I focused on that day was how bad 34% sounds on paper and how upset I was to lose that 7% of residual hearing (even though it wasn’t much to be upset about anyway). I was so blinded that I didn’t even see how much of a blessing it was to go from 7% to 34% hearing in just 1 month of being implanted. To quote from John 9:25, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
I learned a lot from going unintentionally Godless for 2 weeks. The most important thing I learned is that I need God in my life. I need him today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and every day for the rest of my life. Life gets hard and without God, it is unmanageable. I am doomed for failure if I try to get through life without God. But as Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
What is it that brought me back to the Lord? The good people of the Lord. People who were open and honest to me. Those who didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. People who yelled at me for being depressed and not seeing the blessings the Lord have bestowed upon me and people who yelled at me for not seeing the wonderful grace and glory of God. People, my mother especially, who told me that I needed to go back and open my bible. Those who told me things wouldn’t and couldn’t ever get better if I turned my back on God.
I may have turned my back on God for 2 weeks, but he never turned his back on me. He was there for me yesterday. He’s there for me today. And he’ll be there for me tomorrow. The question is, will I be there for him?
I’ve spent a good portion of today reading through my bible and fixing and strengthening and repairing my relationship with the lord. I still have a long way to go — a lifetime. In the couple of hours I spent studying my bible and picking up where I left off 2 weeks ago, I already feel much better. I can’t wait to get to church tomorrow. And I am very sorry for turning my back on God. As much as I want to say it will never happen again, I know that that is probably a lie. As a Christian I will fail God and probably turn my back on him many times over. The only things all Christians do perfectly is sin and constantly fail God. But the good news is this — he loves us anyway. He died to save us from our sins — there is no greater love than that. He wants nothing more to help us and have a relationship with us. We just have to remember that, especially during the tough times in life. God will make all things better even if you don’t understand it at the time, but he can’t make things better if you don’t know him. Sometimes, it’s during the hardest times of our lives that we need God the most. We just have to make sure to keep him in our lives and give him room to work.