Excerpt from Firsthand: Dumping Secondhand Religion for a Real God
By: Ryan and Joshua Shook–March 19, 2013–Waterbrook/Multnomah
“I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both telling and very important to tell. They tell what is perhaps the critical paradox of our condition that what we hunger for more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.” — Frederick Buechner
It’s our overwhelming desire to see you experience a real, raw and personal friendship with God. Imagine what it would be like to see our generation come alive and experience the freedom of firsthand faith!
This might surprise you, but we think that firsthand faith and freedom go hand in hand. In fact, one of the most important payoffs of firsthand faith just might be this—emotional and spiritual freedom. And that’s what you and I were created for. It’s in our DNA to crave it. It’s the reason Jesus came. We all crave the freedom to be fully ourselves at every moment without holding anything back. And when it comes to our lives as Christians, we all long for a natural, honest, life-giving relationship with God, too.
What we long for, however, is usually a very different place than where we actually live. As Frederick Buechner has said, “What we hunger for more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.”
Jesus said one of the most liberating and powerful statements of all time when He said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And we’re writing this chapter to tell you something that will set you free. The only way we’ve been able to experience freedom is by getting completely gut-level honest with God and others.
I finally went to God and just unloaded the ugly truth about my secret sins. All of it. I said the words out loud to Him, even though He already knew every “secret” I had to tell.
And then I did something else. I took the risk of sharing my secret struggles with my friend, Dave. We had been friends since junior high, and although both of us have struggled with our faith and made countless stupid, immature decisions, we’ve always shared a desire to be godly men. I figured if I could be honest with anyone, it would be Dave.
Once I started talking, it didn’t take long for me to discover that he was just as frustrated as I was at how easy it is to be fake about our faith, to compartmentalize things about ourselves we’re ashamed of, and act like we had everything together. He was sick and tired of secrets, too.
We decided to make it a point to talk with each other once a week and be one hundred percent honest about our lives, our faith, and our struggles. We wanted to be completely vulnerable. As painful as it was at first to talk about my failures and sins and ask for prayer, good things started to happen right away. I didn’t feel so alone. I felt new freedom to be myself. And my relationship with the Lord began to change in a radical way. I felt free to come to Him with my sins and struggles and accept His unmerited forgiveness and grace. I had stumbled into what this book is about—a real, raw, firsthand relationship with the One who made us.
I am beginning to discover that when we refuse to get real with others, it is not only unloving to them, but also to God!
I once heard someone say that we’re only as sick as our secrets, and I couldn’t agree more. When I finally revealed my struggles and sins to God and my friend, the bricks started to fall off. They will for you, too.
Telling the truth, even if it isn’t pretty, is a requirement for an authentic, living, firsthand faith.
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