The last 13 years haven’t been without their spiritual perils. At times, my path has been long, hard and very shaky. I have felt lonely, abandoned and direction-less. I have shed many tears in the process too. During this time, I have not had a real “spiritual home” either. I have been in ‘no man’s land’ and have battled with a deep anxiety about churches in general. As a non-church-goer during this time, I have also been intensely aware of my vulnerability in Scripture, so I’ve treaded cautiously too.
I have, however, been aware that God has been gently leading me in some strange, unknown direction. It’s not been important to know the direction but rather to simply follow His leading - honestly and congruently. I have felt Him urge me to impart a deep, honest love towards all people in my writing. To this end, I have been very active in cyberspace. I can’t help but look back and realise that some people - possibly Divinely selected - have been specifically placed in my path. Most often, they have been strangers too. I found this particularly during the writing of my book. It’s with a deep measure of disbelief that I look back on the path I travelled.
“Maxdog” necessitated hours of isolated writing and pulling back from society in general. I became socio-phobic and accessed a personal space where it was only God and me writing this story. One of the things that made me most confident about ‘Maxdog’ at the time was that every word, page, chapter and process was backed by my personal prayer, “Wherever Maxdog goes, let it do good” and getting the distinct feeling that He was telling me ‘It will do good!” I remember so many moments during the writing process where I paused, closed my eyes and prayed to my Lord to guide my writing so that His plan would prevail in my life.
Although the book, per se, is not ‘Christian’ in genre, it has a subtlety which hopefully indicates a Divine presence in its pages. It’s a story which reveals a symbiotic relationship between two of God’s creatures – Max (a dog) and me. The fact that God placed him in my life specifically with the purpose of helping me overcome my depression is testimony to His incredible love. I will always be grateful for the role that Max played in my life. He was an incredible dog and I thank God for him continuously.
I’ve never been a bible-puncher, but believed rather that my actions would speak for themselves. Ironically, my actions haven't always been exemplary. I’ve also felt that my depression often had serious consequences on the people around me – particularly those that I love the most. It's a constant battle, but I am deeply sorry for the pain I've caused others. I love people – all people! Their cultures, languages, diversity of spirituality are wondrous. We have all been created with a purpose in this life – each different, unique, put together for a larger Diving plan. It is our personal responsibility to uncover this plan within each of our lives.
I’ve also been aware that the title ‘Christian’ doesn’t always go down well in some circles. There have been times (lots of them) that I have hidden my faith simply out of respect for the traumas that others have faced and the religious views which they hold. At times, I’ve been so embarrassed by the universal Christian church that I have shunned them too. In this process, I’ve probably hurt a lot of my fellow Christians too. We (Christians) have been really bad marketers of our faith and perhaps I am one of the worst. Even when we try our best, we fall horribly short…and that is the very reason why we need God in our lives.
Nevertheless, my Lord has never deserted me in my confusion. Instead, I’ve always had a gentle voice prodding me… “Focus on the good…let the rest die of neglect.” Recently, He has made me more aware of my inconsistencies and my own, continuous need for salvation. He has also prodded me towards finding a Christian community and a scriptural stronghold. I am so grateful that He continuously forgives me for my transgressions – a grace which I, most definitely, don’t deserve.
To cut a long story short, I have finally signed up with a church. I have been following various churches and their sermons in cyberspace and have visited a few in the process. My new ‘home’ feels strange, but thankfully welcoming. It’s a large church, based in solid scripture, with a calling to make disciples of the faith. (This, for me, is very, very scary!) But it’s a place that I think I need to be at this stage. Maybe it’s a place where God will allow me to give back too? I don’t know many people at this stage but I am sure that it will come in time. My biggest gratitude is that my general phobia of churches, their people and their buildings is dissipating. I am merely been left with a feeling of overwhelming joy that perhaps God’s has more planned for me.
At the end of the day, it's our humanity that binds us all. May you feel the gentle love of God and be showered with his unfathomable joy.