Last week, I attended a Vesper service. It was the first time I'd ever been in an Orthodox Church. What struck me most about Vespers was that it was all about praising the Most Holy Trinity. Usually the churches I attend are more about learning verses and discussing polotics, with the notable exception of Bethel Baptist Church and a Zion Messianic Synagogue, both of which were extremely devoted to God. You can definitely feel the Holy Spirit in their congregations.
Currently, I'm a member of Bethel Baptist. Just about six or seven weeks ago I knew almost nothing about Orthodoxy. Even though Bethel is a wonderful place, I just felt like I was missing some part of myself. So I just let God take me where he wanted to. I started praying the scriptures and looking for the Church that followed the Bible's doctrines most accurately. Looking back, I now see that this quest for the "first" church wasn't really what I wanted to search for, or rather, what God wanted me to search for. In reality, he was leading me to salvation. I thought I was already saved though.
The first place He lead me was Messianic Judaism. My best friend invited me there. The congregation was truly happy in the Lord! They sung and danced. They prayed and prayed and prayed. Only two things concerned them during the service; praising God and obeying his Law. God bless them for their commitment. You'll know what it means to be "excited and joyful" in our Messiah after just one visit! My only complaint about them is their reluctance to call themselves Christians for fear of persecution by their Jewish brothers and sisters.
Something was still missing though. I discovered what it was just last week. It was true and sincere love within all of my heart for the Lord. Before it was just with little segments of my heart that I loved Jesus with. There were even times when I seriously questioned God's existence. Sure, I'd feared Him before, even cried to Him. But it was mainly only a one way communication. Now it's two ways. Why it's two ways now I don't really know. In truth, I don't even know what it is that attracts me to Orthodoxy so much. It feels like there's something more that's just beyond my reach, and this troubles me. I have a fear of just dying one day, and then fading into nothingness. I struggle with the question of what's beyond life. Is it suffering, eternal joy, or non-existence? I need to know for sure. I need God to be a tangible force in my life.
Therefore, I've decided to follow my savior, Jesus Christ. Wherever He leads me I will go. He's led me here now. I'm tempted to feel like I've reached the end of a long journey, but I know the truth. I'm only at the beginning of my spiritual journey. I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you that I'm a little scared of the brief glimpses I've had of what lies along this path God's chosen for me. Please, help ease my fears.
The Vesper service helped ease them. The incense reminded me of how our prayers are like a sweet smell to God. The icon of Christ stared at all of our souls. The eyes seem to follow you no matter where you go. This both disturbs and comforts me. Christ is always watching over us, but he also sees all of our sins. I can tell you truthfully that I have a ton of them. The "Lord have mercy" lines in the prayers really mean something to me. I'm literally begging Him for salvation by saying them.
Joy comes easy to me. So does pride and lying. You have no idea how much I long to cry and mourn in a righteous manner. So far, I've only cried selfishly except for two or three occasions when my sorrow was sincerely about others. I even wrote a prayer about my desire to cry. It reflects my emotions way better than just this paragraph. Sorry, but it's a little blurry. I hope you can read it.
I've spilled my heart out to you. If you have any advice for me, please say it. I don't really know that much about God and His Will yet, except for the basics. I'd like to know more though. A member of the Orthodox Church I visited loaned me a great book about faith, love, God, and doctrine. I've really enjoyed it and it's very enlighting. The book is definitely helping me get close to God. I think it's called The Orthodox Way
Well, it's almost time for me to retire for the night. I don't know what time it is where you live, but it's 11:20 pm here. Before I go though, is it true that catechumens must not be in contact with any other non-Orthodox churches? I don't want to just abandon my old congregation entirely. They were, after all, the ones who initially led me to Christ. I like to do Bible studies with my Roman Catholic and Messianic Jewish friends. Will I have to stop doing these activities now? I feel that God still wants me to continue them, but I'm still new to all of this.
God bless all of you for taking the time to read this very long post.
I really need help!