Reorienting Natural Inward Thinking

My story is much the same as many others stories at Hope. I grew up in the church. Going to Sunday School, being involved in high school ministries, going on missions trips. My parents loved (and still do) the Lord. I know now that every family is dysfunctional, but I can look back and say that I was raised in a less dysfunctional environment than many of my friends. I love my family.

Many people will say here that they were also brought up thinking they had to earn their salvation and being a Christian was all about rules. It wasn’t that way in my case. I simply didn’t think about things that much. I didn’t really realize what Christ did and also didn’t think I had to earn salvation. I just plugged along doing the Christian things and avoided the overtly foolish things.

Then the formative college years rolled around. I went to Bethel and befriended Debt. It’s remarkable how being inundated in a “Christian” environment slowly removes your felt need for a personal relationship with the Lord.

Private worship gave way to private sin.

I blindly grabbed the Devil’s chains from the closet and shackled myself.

The Lord shook me awake in my junior year when a relationship (truly dysfunctional) fell apart. Depression is always on the heels of loneliness, and the circumstances of that year was a prime opportunity for both. I lost 25 lbs and when I was hungry and did eat, food tasted terrible. I was commuting and didn’t have anywhere to go in between classes, so I spent hours in the Prayer Chapel in the Word. God came and comforted me there and breathed the pilot light in my heart into a fire. From that day till now my heart has desired the Lord above all else. And I realized later that I had a hole in my life, and I kept trying to fill it with other things, as Lewis said, “a God-shaped hole.”

You can’t fill a hole that’s meant for the Lord with a girl.

That was 3 years ago. And it hasn’t been an easy 3 years. Apparently re-orienting your naturally inward thinking toward Christ takes some time. Killing sin. Fighting the triad: selfishness (my preferences), self-centerdness (how does this affect me), and pride (desire for glorification). Seeking God for Himself and not for what He can give me—even if that is fulfillment in Himself.

This year has been hard. I can recall two truly Holy-Spirit filled moments since January. It’s hard to pursue a God who isn’t tame, and seems illusive. But I persevere because I want to know Him, because He is good, and because life sucks without Him.

Paul Fredin

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