Lots of you will have been on a Christian camp or festival this summer, and will have learnt new things about God and experienced Him in incredible ways. Sometimes it can be hard readjusting to home-life, or to routine after these weeks away - and we know that there can often be times where doubts can creep in, and you might start to wonder whether you can 'maintain' the Christian life in a different environment, or if your faith will hold up at all. These ups and downs are what we're nicknaming 'rollercoaster faith' - when you feel torn between pursuing God wholeheartedly, or going your own way and fitting in with everyone else instead.
Don't be discouraged! Just because we don’t feel incredibly passionate or hugely excited about following God every single day doesn’t mean our faith isn’t there. Faith is for these very moments! Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about things unseen.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1
Yes, God can feel ‘unseen’ when we're back at school, trying to tell our friends what we did over the summer holidays while avoiding using the word ‘Christian’. God feels ‘unseen’ when we are the only one in our friendship group that seems to be following Jesus at all. He feels ‘unseen’ when we’re nervously preparing to go to university, and the Facebook fresher page is full of people keen to do anything and everything except live for Jesus.
But, whether you’re struggling without term-time routine, drifting without the accountability of Christian friends, or wondering how to live out your faith consistently, we're praying that God's truths will steady your 'rollercoaster faith' little by little, and that you would recognise that instead you have a "spiritual lifeline" which will never fail you.
1. Know that God will never abandon us.
God is as present in the downs as in the ups – He doesn't come and go with our moods or feelings. And you know, often we need those ‘downs’ in order that we might be changed and made better. God wants to make us into the best version of ourselves, and this involves pruning.
Pruning and changing is painful, but it’s necessary in order that our rough edges might be broken off and we will be made more beautiful. Isn’t this a truth that has been displayed so clearly throughout all the posts we’ve shared this summer series? The ‘downs’ can be the places where God’s work is most visible, present, tangible of all.
So, walk with God every day. If you want to know somebody better, it's natural to spend time with them, so try and read your Bible, because God's character is displayed here and you'll find His truth and promises. And when it's hard, ask Him to help you before you open the pages. When you forget or make mistakes, remember His grace. Accept that there will be elements of ‘rollercoaster’ in your journey of faith – but choose to praise God in the middle of every up and down, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that He’s only there in the 'good bits’. He never leaves us.
2. Know that He is there in the everyday.
A life of praise feels easy and natural when we are surrounded by people at camps or festivals or at church – after all, we are designed to worship our Creator. However, readjusting to normal, everyday life can shock us. How do we praise God when we're too busy with school, too busy with work? How can we be excited about living for Jesus when none of our friends want to hear the name mentioned? How can we be truly ‘on fire’ if we’re too embarrassed to bring up that we go to church?
You know, fighting these internal battles and making those tough choices to stand out and be bold are just as much ‘worship’ as anything we do at camp or at Christian festivals. They are tough decisions, often not noticed by anybody else – but they are so valuable in God’s eyes, and they will make us mighty warriors! Keep pursuing God in the details, in the small and often-missable everyday choices you make – and know that the repitition of good habits and wise choices will grow in you a heart that is God-fearing and strong.
3. We can't save ourselves.
I used to get home from Spring Harvest most years and write down a list of everything I needed to do to ‘remain changed’: read the Bible before school, pray on the walk to the bus stop, write a list of all my friends that I needed to tell about Jesus, pray for my family every day. Within a few weeks, I’d failed miserably, and I was doubting whether I had really been changed at all.
I hadn’t grasped grace
Grace is what saves us and gives us that spiritual lifeline. We’re not saved or changed by our own efforts. We’re changed because God loved us enough to send Jesus to take all our mistakes, sin and shame so that we don’t have to live in guilt or fear. This frees us up to live lives praising God motivated by love and not by fear. We’re not judged on what we do!
We don’t have a rollercoaster God. Our God is constant.
He controls time; He holds the world in His hands. His nature is unchanging. He has already saved us and He has always loved us! God is the same, whether you are praising Him amongst thousands of other joyful Christians or feeling desperately alone and nervous on your first day back at school. You can call on His name whether you are praying in church, or having the worst freshers’ week you could imagine.
In some ways, an element of rollercoaster Christianity is almost inevitable: our nature as human beings is that we are weak and easily blown off course. We get passionate about pursing God, and then we give up a little and go our own way. It’s the pattern we see in the Bible with the Israelites time and time again. Yet God remains constant, there to pick up the pieces, there to guide us back to Him with unfailing love and all-covering grace.
Your status doesn’t change, depending on how many Christian friends you’re surrounded by, or how many camps you go on in a summer. Your status is wrapped up in the fact that you are a child of God.
There is grace enough for all your mistakes and more. Know that God is constant, pursue Him in the everyday, and find joy and security in the fact that you have been saved!
I'm Lucy and I'm just coming to the end of my second year at Durham University. I love my hometown Cambridge and I also love living in the beautiful little city of Durham, where the coffee shops are plentiful and the people are GREAT!
Running More Precious is one of my favourite things and I'm super excited after the impact this summer series has made! Like I said in my bio, I'm still learning how to live out a little of the thankfulness of Pollyanna, the kindness of Katy Carr and the faith of the Proverbs 31:25 girl - perhaps one day I'll get there!