God does not want to see effort in us, He wants to see CHRIST in us.
As I wrestle with this thing called Christianity, I find that a lot of my thoughts and ideas have changed over the years.
I grew up in a home where God was recognized, but not taught or followed. Mom and Dad came from different religions (he: Lutheran, she: Catholic). They came here as immigrants. When we were younger, we were sent (not taken) to Mass.
I remember one day specifically. I must have been around 8 or 9. It was not a Sunday, but I went into the church to find my brother (who was an altar boy). There was some kind of a service going on. I just stuck my head in to see if he was around and attempted to leave. A priest stopped me and asked me what I was doing. I told him. He told me that I shouldn't go in a service and then just turn around and leave. He told me that I had committed a mortal sin.
Now, I didn't know much, but I knew that this was not a good thing. Dang, only 9 years old and hell-bound already. I wondered if there was any way out of this, or if I should just accept my fate. The thought of demons for roommates was a real bummer. Mom wasn't gonna like this either, so I had better not tell her.
I see things differently now.
I feel sorry for that priest. So wrapped up in trying to serve God, yet so blind. Catholics do not have a corner on that market by the way.
How can leaving a church service be any worse that not going at all? Is God really that petty and controlling? I don't think so. I have left services early since that time, and haven't thought twice about it.
What Satan intended to be a spiritual scar actually became a means of grace in the hands of God. I could have left that night defeated, doomed, feeling lost with no hope of redemption. But God had other plans for me.
Tomorrow: My Confirmation. Stay tuned!