For those of you who don’t already know, I am currently enrolled in my first semester of graduate school in the MA in Writing program at Rowan University. One of the classes I am enrolled in this semester is Core I: Theories and Techniques of Writing. This is a required class for my program where we study many other writers and how they write. We have just been assigned to write a paper that is either an imitation or parody of another writer. For this assignment I have chosen to write a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s “Why I Went to the Woods”. My parody is listed below. As you read it I ask that you keep in mind that part of the assignment requires me to adopt Thoreau’s writing style. This is why the sentences are so long and detailed with many commas and semi colons and very long paragraphs. It is also why some parts of it may feel very repetitive and the language is kind of old-fashioned and not the way people talk today. I am attempting to write in Thoreau’s voice here, not my own. Also, please keep in mind that this is a first draft. While I am very proud of this draft (hence why I am choosing to publish it to my blog), it is just that, a first draft. This is far from perfect and will be undergoing significant revision as my semester goes on. I do however welcome any comments or feedback.
Why I Went to Church
I went to church because I wished to live for Christ, and to live my life in a way that is only pleasing to him, and to see if I could lead a life free of sin, so as to go on to heaven at the time of my death. I wished to follow the commandment of my Lord in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1728). I wanted to surrender myself and my life to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to live so spiritually and free of materialism as to have no one question my faith, but for others to come to know Christ through me and my faith, and to show the world what it means to be a Christian. We do not live our lives for us, we live for Christ.
Did you ever consider how we might live for Christ? Living for Christ is a conscientious choice that we must make every day; a decision to live free of our material possessions and the worldly sinful life. Some choose the pleasure of a life of Christ, others choose the ways of the world run by Satan. It is my hope that one day those who choose the world will wake up and break free of Satan’s hold on them, that they will suddenly choose the life of Christ and follow him and his ways, so that they too, may be saved. Why should we exercise the right of free will? We are determined to choose our own paths in life. Men constantly choose their own paths, thinking they know what’s best for their lives. But we constantly fall short of the glory of God. It all started with Adam and Eve, who chose their own free will, they took pleasure in their own hearts’ desires, so that now we must all suffer the misfortunes of their sin. And now when comes forth acts of temptation, we must all struggle with decision to sin or turn way and follow God, for this is a constant battle in an unbelievers heart, until the day comes that they may be saved.
There is but few men residing alongside Washington Township who considers himself not a sinner, but a saved man, yet has an excuse every which way for why he cannot attend church. The man claims to not have the time of day for such matters as church, yet the same man and his wife would ask the fine couple next door, “What’s the plans for the day?”, fearing that they may miss out on the town’s latest social event. Yet they fail to realize the day’s occurrences are but temporary, for they cannot match the days of heaven that would lie ahead of them, if they were to only get saved.
Still, we live for the world and not for Christ; though the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mam’-mon” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1462). Our lives are stained in sin. A saved man knows not to count on the things in the world for happiness, for as Psalm 23 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 915). Pray, pray, pray! I command, pray 10 or 20 times a day, and not once or twice; instead of television read your bible, and listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14 which demands, “Be yet not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1764). Pray, pray. Instead of arguing with your wife, pray for peace; instead of drinking at the bar, invite your friends over for a time of prayer; and pray for each other as often as you can. Our lives are each ridden with sin as the result of the fall of Adam and Eve, and we constantly fall short of the glory of God, with the only option to escape salvation through the grace Christ alone. Look at our nation, an icon of sin, which obviously hasn’t been doing so well in recent years, thrives on the motto, “Do what makes you happy, regardless of the consequences”, which explains why we have become obsessed with the sexualization of our culture and the constant need for self-gratification, and the only way to escape the ruins that we have fallen into as a nation is to turn away from ourselves and our own free will and instead surrender our lives to Christ and his will and his ways for ourselves as individuals and our nation as a whole. Repent, repent, repent! We must admit our shortcomings to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness as we accept the life he has laid out for us, and not merely the paths we think we know best for ourselves, for in all honesty, we know nothing. Men believe that they must engage in pre-marital sex, to put money before prayer, and to break each and every commandment in the bible for the stake of liberty and equality in our nation; whether they actually engage in these acts or support them as bystanders remains to be uncertain, but whether we shall live as moral Christians or sinful heathens these days is questionable.
As for me, I could easily do without the television. I believe there are very few Christ-pleasing shows on air these days. To be honest, I haven’t seen a television program but twice a year during the span of my lifetime that I believed worthwhile of my time. And I am confident that I’m not missing out much on this week’s latest tabloid stories. It’s just one Kardashian sex tape, Taylor Swift’s breakup, WikiLeaks breakthrough, celebrity drug overdose, Jennifer Aniston pregnancy, Kanye West feud, Kate Middelton hat, Oprah Winfrey failed diet, Jennifer Lopez wedding, and Angelina Jolie divorce after the other. Reading one tabloid story is more than enough to last me to my final days. Why do we care to read so much gossip about the misfortunes of the rich and famous? Does Ephesians 4:29 not state, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”? (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1785). Rather than judging these celebrities and talking about the times when they fall short of the glory of God, shall we not pray for them instead? I hear women in the grocery store pick up these tabloids and chat about the celebrities all the time. “That Taylor Swift sure gets around these days,” they say, “What a whore!”. Some of these expressions come from women who wear a cross around their necks and claim to be a Christian, yet they can’t remember the last time they stepped foot in a church or made time for prayer. They may be better off if they threw the tabloids in the trash where they belong and open up their bible and fold their hands to pray instead. Gossiping about Taylor Swift and talking bad about the other celebrities in the tabloids will only fuel the success of the tabloids and bring about no change or betterment of the lives of those who these women mock; for the only real change can come within these celebrities due to an intervention from the holy one above. We as citizens and brothers and sisters in Christ can only do our part to pray for those in need, and not to gossip about the misfortunes and shortcomings of others, for we know ourselves to be stained with the same blood of sinners.
Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seems like a life of luxury. Sure, these things will bring us gratification, but men must realize it is only temporary. For as John 14:6 tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father; but by me” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1638). We can never be satisfied in the things of the world or our own personal gratification alone; we must depend on Christ for hope, salvation, and happiness to last all eternity.
Prayer is but the essence of my life. I come to the Lord as a sinner ready to repent, yet through his grace he redeems me. I struggle in the world ridden with sin as my eternity in paradise awaits. I would live more humbly, pray more often, and attend church to hear the word of my Lord and savior amongst a community of imperfect believers. I am perfectly flawed. I cannot count but one day of life without sin. I always regret the ways in which I let my savior down. I strive to live a life for Christ; but the devil often crosses my path and leads me down the road to sin. I do not wish to follow his ways, but rather to cleanse myself with the holy water to follow in the path of Christ. My heart is pure and for my Lord. I feel an overflowing love and adoration for my savior Christ. I hear the promises my Lord makes in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (The Holy Bible : authorized King James version: super giant print edition: words of Christ in red, 1996, p. 1212). I hear his calling and I follow him, to live a life of purity and the need for nothing more than my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; for I understand that this life in the present moment is but temporary, the starting point for a life of eternity in Christ that is yet to come.
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.