We are bathed in awe as we take our first breath. Our ears can hear at last, and our eyes are now open. We emerge into life as showers of joy surround our minds. We can hear the shouts of joy from the angles above as we pick up the scent of heaven.
It seems like nothing can destroy the first weeks of salvation. We feel like our journey is finally over. Pure and innocent, like smoking holy weed.
We soon realize that our problems don’t disappear. The haze fades away, and the liquid glory honey cloud becomes a distant memory amidst the returning train of reality.
A glimpse of heaven
Everyone who ever started something with enthusiasm and great joy knows the sloping feeling of the mundane creeping in again. We get used to new environments, new jobs, and new spouses.
The new and fresh doesn’t stay like that by the definitions of those words. We call it the honeymoon phase. Everything fades away, even the new-found joy of salvation.
It’s almost like God opens up a little window to us; a glimpse of a future yet to come. It is enough for us to experience him and make our first memories. It’s a rock that tells us ‘stuff is real.’
The pain of growing up
When I gave my life to the Lord, many challenges arose. All of a sudden, I couldn’t relate to my buddies anymore.
It was more than just their inability to understand why I wouldn’t drink and smoke anymore. Those are just behaviors one can ignore.
What got us was our sudden disagreement on core issues such as women, sex, love, and purpose. None of those things clash in young men until those values change.
Some reacted with anger and some with indifference but over time I grew apart from most of them. What do you do together if you don’t party and set the world on fire? Not a lot in those wild years.
I had my fallbacks and slips, bitter tears after long nights but my decision for the Lord hunted me when I was alone. I knew one could fall, but we can only walk towards one destiny. The course is set either way.
The doubts and the unknown
Everything I knew and valued started to disappear into obscurity. Friendship became hollow, and the gin and juice I used to love became a mere memory. I started asking myself how I should act as a follower of Christ?
I wanted something real. I experienced radical salvation out of a miserable lifestyle. I wanted to grow in being radical and the cost of giving up my pleasures was a great sacrifice for me. I needed people with a radical love for Christ, yet instead, I found a bunch of sissies playing games.
Most Christians had no idea how to handle a rough diamond. They are used to “perfect” people who hide their problems under the carpet. Keep’ on smiling until you die.
I didn’t know how to smile. So we didn’t get along. I ended up alone and frustrated, doubting my decisions and slipping time and time again.
The cracking of the wall
My defenses started to shake. Rejected by my old brothers and rejected by my new ones. With no place to go, I began to feel like I was doing things wrong.
I started to doubt my actions. I became self-conscious. Hiding my insecurities with pride and swagger didn’t work anymore. But that’s the only way I knew how to deal with my fears.
So I became defensive and moody. A shadow of my former self. No place to go and no place to hide. My anchors got challenged, and I had nothing left. The people who were supposed to catch me were too busy catching Benjamins.
Being reborn was not just a metaphor for me. Like a baby, I had to learn how to walk and talk. Everything was new for me, and it was the beginning of a long and painful process of healing and learning.
I learned that true Christianity is only for real warriors. What is commonly known as the church has nothing to do with faith. Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable; he came to give us salvation. And he was willing to pay the price.
The church today tries to control people into a particular kind of churchgoer. Always nice, always on the surface. Crack a joke, show up on Sunday and put a fish on your car.
That’s not the man I desired to be when I surrendered my life to my God. Jesus wasn’t like that. He whipped the moneychangers, battled the church of his time and didn’t care what anyone thought. A man’s man.
Father and mothers
A standard recommendation after salvation is to find a good church. I agree with that, but the problem is that one doesn’t know what a good church is. How can you, you’ve just been saved.
So how can we avoid the pain and frustrations with others?
I believe in commitments. Giving a commitment to a church is a big deal, something people tend to give to early.
Visiting a church two times doesn’t mean that you now belong to that church. You’re a visitor, checking things out. That’s fine.
Take your time in finding the right place. Check out everything that’s available in your area. Don’t give up looking and don’t settle for an online church. There are great resources out there (like here and here) but there is no replacement for interacting with people and building relationships. Chats can’t emulate that.
You need brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. You need a place where you can open up, and you trust the people around you. You can’t be alone because the devil attacks at night.
Once you’ve found a church, then commit. Become a part of it and attend even if you don’t feel like it. Pursue relationships with your local family, stay in the word and love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
Written By: Michael Klim
Michael is no stranger to tears and pain. Growing up in Berlin as the son of refugees, hardening his heart seemed like the only way to survive the jungle.
Yet his God had a different plan. He stole his heart and put him on a journey towards wholeness and completion. He is married to Shalyn and has two gorgeous little girls. They make their homes in a small town in the midwest.
Michael blogs at heartandgrowth.com