You read all the books and try to discipline yourself to do all the things that will bring you closer to God and empower you to live that awesome life the bible talks about. But it's a battle full of self doubt, all the classic stuff - that they talk about in all the books. Maybe I missed something in all those books?
You know, I could go on trying to do Christianity, and do a reasonably good job at it. Most of us, who have been doing it for a while, know enough about grace and forgiveness and love and righteousness to live a passable life. We could even do all the stuff Jesus says to do and feed the poor and look after the widows - really good stuff. We could cast out demons and heal the sick - he said we should do that too. Hmm, that's a tricky one. I've read lots of books about that and had a good go at it at times. But there seems to be a few problems...
Doesn't always work is the main one. Feeding the poor always works, and looking after the widows works too, but the other stuff gets really mixed results. If He said we should heal the sick (that's heal the sick - not just pray for them) surely he would give us the means to do it? The bible said he has - "by his stripes (physical wounds he received) we are healed", not might be healed, or could be if we do the right things, or pray enough, but are healed. So I must still be missing the point here.
Now I know I've opened up a very large can of horrible little squirmy things. That why there are so many books written about it. But not many of them really get to the nitty gritty of it - we either are healed, like Jesus said, or we aint. so the real question is how do we get it?
There's a lot of teaching about the kingdom of God being "now and not yet", an awesome concept to cover all the missing bits that don't happen yet, like peace on earth, healing, complete authority over the devil and all his works and so on. The kingdom of God is here, but not in it's fullness yet. We are still learning to "do" it. It's a tidy idea and a good piece of theology that fixes up the problems we seem to have with Jesus commands. But Jesus didn't actually say it anywhere, not really. He said a lot about "you got it - no get out there and do it". Yes there are some that "only come out with prayer and fasting" - and I think we night have taken that to mean whole lot more than He did.
So I think about how I can figure this out, I mean, I've taken a long time over this and read lots of books and tried lots of things. The conclusion? Get to know God better! Easy - ish. If I knew Him better, I mean really knew how he feels about things, about how to do things and his love for me and everyone else - everything really, Then there wouldn't be a problem cos He'd tell me what to do when I needed to do it. That way I can't possibly go wrong. I suppose He wouldn't tell me everything though because we have to find things out for ourselves. Sort of look at what He's told us already and figure things out from that. He hasn't hidden anything from us - He's hidden them for us to find (thanks to Bill Johnson for that one). This builds faith as I trust Him. But if I don't really know Him enough I'll never properly figure anything out for myself. The only solution left that I can see is having some sort of on going intense, real, personal encounter with Him. One that builds our relationship, cements the realisation beyond a doubt that he loves me and always wants the best for me, and gives me such a lasting longing for more of Him that I can truly be confident in all I do.
Now that would change everything! A real, tangible encounter with the God who created everything. Then I would know He was with me all the time - I could turn to Him and take His hand when I felt fragile - He'd give me hope and direction when I needed it - I'd know His voice so well because I would have heard Him, felt Him, experienced Him. And I could heal all the sick and have total authority over all the works of the enemy - just like he said I would.
And He promised this sort of relationship is for EVERY believer - now all I have to do is figure out why I'm not quite there yet...