I hope that you will forgive me for what is likely to be a long winded posting here, and Oh I pray that someone might be able to help me to settle something weighing heavily on my heart. I feel I’ve been under attack for a long while as it relates to assurance of salvation. When I listened to Pastor’s teaching the haunting thoughts came rushing in again! “How do I KNOW that I AM born again by the Spirit of God and FILLED with that Holy Spirit in Times and seasons when I can’t seem to hear His voice, sense His presence, or see the answers to prayers long prayed? Am I truly born again, or am I just fooling myself?”
First, a bit of background. Until a couple of years ago I’d been a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church. As a child I attended a little , country church with my grandmother. After college I found a similar little church in another small town and settled into a “family” there where I worshipped and served for 30 years. About five years ago, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and confused by the progressive form of Christianity that was causing a great divide to develop within Methodism. During that Lenton season I was haunted by Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” I found myself weeping through my prayers, and that has continued to this day.
Having retired from my 30 year vocation as a Special Education teacher in 2015, I thought I should try to take a more formal role within the church and signed up for classes to become a Lay Speaker. It was then that I found even more disturbing trends in Methodism. The straw that broke my heart was when I’d read on the UMC webpage that teachings on the rapture of the church had no place in Methodism. I tried to speak to my pastors about all that was stirring up in my faith journey, but didn’t find peace. Both of them had very progressive ideologies which, though not spoken of outwardly, were often hinted at in sermons. Two years ago I wrote a long email to my pastors and the president of our pastor/parish relations committee trying to explain the spiritual crisis I’d found myself in. I explained that I felt a need to take a “sabbatical” of sorts to sort out my feelings and find answers to my questions. My pastors responded simply by saying, “Go with God and, should you choose to return, we will accept you with open arms.”
I’ve not returned, nor have I found another local church as Covid restrictions have made attendance in person very difficult. I’ve been attending church in HI for a long while now, since even before leaving the UMC. I’ve continued to email and send cards and notes to members of my old church family, including one where I shared about the urgency of the times we are living in and concerns about the vaccine, especially for children. Only two people responded.
So, long story short, I am without support of other Christians of like mind. I continue to sob through my prayer, to the point that I am totally drained and, for the past few weeks haven’t been able to pray much at all. It’s been so painful for me that I have been avoiding anything more than simple, one word or one sentence kinda of petitions. I have millennial children. My son especially has turned away from the Lord and my heart is so heavy fearing that he will be left behind. I have no idea how to live and move in these days, no clear understanding of what the Lird has for me to do, and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to discern just what the Spirit is whispering to me.
So . . . Even though I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me of a million faults and failings and SAVE me from an eternity in torment more times than I can count. . . I find myself now fighting against this doubt . . . WAS I ever truly born again? AM I filled with the Holy Spirit?? Will I be a bridesmaid whose lamp is full??? Or will the door to the bridal chamber be closed to me because my lamp is empty?
Does anyone else find themselves sobbing through their prayers like the weeping prophet, Jeremiah? Does anyone have any Idea what this could mean?
Does anyone else find it increasingly difficult to hear God’s voice or feel that their prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling? Does anyone else wonder if they were ever really saved at all??
Thank you to any and all who have taken the time to read this long story and a double thank you to any who might have some insight to share or a prayer to offer for one like me who feels so very empty and too worn out to pray much at all.
God bless and keep you . . .