Hello friend, …..that is how I like to start the dozens of emails that land in my box each morning. When I first started sharing my bible online I never would have imagine the people that would reach out to me looking for advice. I want to honor those readers as I pray over them and write them letters each day. At the same time I know so many of you are feeling the same way, and as you explore this new form of worship it’s natural for questions to come up.

I wanted to share with you some of these conversations with you while keeping them totally anonymous (I have asked each person if it was okay to share here). Sometimes knowing there are other people out there experiencing the same thing makes it that much easier to take the next step. Please know that I am not trying to claim that I know it all when it comes to having a personal relationship with Jesus. In fact, it was through the desire to draw closer to God that I started Illustrated Faith. We are on this path together, but sometimes it helps to just talk it out with a friend…. thus… hello friend!

 

 I admire the way you are living your life for God. I’m having a hard time with that myself. I grew up and am still sort of in a very strict religion and I just want to be peaceful and free instead of burdened down with the stress of all the things they say we should and shouldn’t do, you know what I mean? I sort of envy your joyful relationship with God.
Hello, friend! Wow this is a very powerful question, one that I think many of us struggle with so thank you so much for reaching out. First thing I want to say is YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I personally have struggled with very similar feelings. Since Jonathan in in ministry it was often tough for me to separate my personal relationship with God with what the church has done. There were times I found it SO tough to even step foot in church, it was a place of pain and struggle and I allowed that to be a direct reflection on my relationship with God. I pulled away from God instead of leaning into Him and that is where I went wrong. Looking back I wish I leaned into Him and allowed the peace and love that He is always there to provide comfort me in those rough times.
I am not sure what church you attend, but please know that is just that…. it’s a church. It’s not God. It’s not perfect, it’s run by humans, who are imperfect and just trying their best to follow what they believe God has called them to do.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1, NIV)
Allowing other people to set the guidelines and rules for your relationship with God will never lead to a personal relationship with God. I encourage you to set out and throw down those barriers others have put up between you and God. You are the only one who can knock them down and find that freedom.  Through this process I encourage you to find how YOU connect to GOD personally. Do you find your connection to Him most meaningful through singing, or researching? Do you find yourself being drawn to illustrating your faith or journaling? Whatever it is just do it with complete freedom, try to just be in the moment and not worry about the next step. You will be amazed at what happens in your relationship with God when you make it YOURS!

 

Here are some verses that I encourage you to explore:
Matthew 6:15-15 | 2 Corinthians 5:7 | John 14:27 | Psalm 37:4

Please know I am praying for you and hope you allow yourself to find that freedom in God that you desire.

 

Your Friend, Shanna

 

P.S. If you find yourself wanting to reach out please email me at shannanoel@gmail.com with “hello friend” in the subject line.
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