As the years passed, I felt the war in my heart continue to rage. There were moments when I sensed my love for God becoming lukewarm, and I was deeply grieved in those moments. I longed so much for the passion that had overwhelmed me in the beginning— for the rapture of falling in love. But, I’d known at the outset that I could never be worthy of the love that had been bestowed upon me, and every day was just a constant reminder of my sinful nature. Every time I failed to handle something the way I knew He would have me handle it— every time I allowed my selfishness to be stronger than my desire to worship Him— I could feel my connection to Him being severed. To make matters worse, there were these ominous scriptural verses that just kept ringing in my head. There was one in particular from the book of Hebrews that said: It is impossible to restore to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people to repentance again because they are nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to public shame (6:4-6, NLT).
Those words, more than any others I had come to find, brought so much pain to my heart. I could picture them playing out before my eyes, and the image tortured me. How? I thought. How could I possibly do such a thing to my sweet, beautiful Savior? How could I hurt Him so much— Him, whom I claimed to love? Yet, I couldn’t deny that I had turned away. It had been so easy to be born again and feel the burden of the past lifted off of me, but now, having been baptized, how could I sin even once without knowing the betrayal I’d committed? I had so many terrorizing thoughts and emotions welling up inside me all the time, and eventually, they just became too much. Emotion gave way to apathy, and any trace of Christ in me was buried so deep that I doubt it could have possibly been recognizable to anyone.
Even so, somehow, He never completely left me. I honestly believed that I was parted from Him forever, along with everything that meant. But I could never bring myself to stop believing in Him. No matter how afraid I was of Him, and no matter how many other paths I could have taken to try to alleviate the pain I felt— atheism, agnosticism, or any other of the countless theories the world had to offer me— I just couldn’t bring myself to stop knowing the truth. I couldn’t separate my life from the source of my life. And every once in a while, in the midst of my thrashing, I would experience something so gentle and kind— as though it were a holy kiss calling me back into His arms. These experiences are engraved in my heart, and they have helped me to believe that He loves me still. In them, I find the will to be transformed. And even though I know it requires me to put myself to death, I’m not so afraid anymore to make the effort. I know that by myself, I’ll never be anything more than fallen, but maybe if I just try to be like Him, then He’ll raise me up and carry me the rest of the way. No matter how sinful I am, and no matter how hard it is for me to fight against my nature, I want to make the effort. I need to make the effort, if only to have that kiss again— that holy kiss from the One I love.