Posted by: minnow | May 18, 2010

Wrapping My Head Around God

What is the hardest thing for you to believe about God?  Is just believing He exists difficult?  Or is it hardest to believe that He loves you or cares about what happens to you?  Is your God benevolent?  Malevolent?  Distant?  Or intimate?  Is He accessable?  Knowable?  Out of reach?  What have been the road blocks to your spiritual journey?  What do you think has contributed to where you presently stand?  How does your faith or lack of faith impact your life?  Or does it?  Lately these are the kinds of questions I have been interested in asking–both the people in my life and those I meet for the first time.

I grew up going to church.  We did not talk much about God or spiritual matters Monday through Saturday but we went to church most Sundays, until I was in middle school.  Shortly after I “joined” the church my family quit attending.  By then however I had begun to take ownership of my own spiritual journey.  It did not hurt matters that a cute senior invited me, a lowly freshman, to a Young Life meeting and it was a way to get out of the house in the middle of the week on a consistent basis.  (Young Life, for those of you who do not know, is a non-denominational youth organization at the high school level).

In college my faith did not grow much deeper though it did take on some baggage.  I married a man with a fairly fundamental background and perspective and I tried to fit into that model.  (If you are interested you can read about that here).  About four years ago my God knowledge experienced a paradigm shift.  I became quite certain of some things most of which I had not even thought about before and very confused about others most of which had been my foundation. 

Before the shift I knew  God sent His Son to die on the cross so if  I believed I would not be found guilty of my own sin.  I did not really understand how He did that I just knew  He did.  I also knew  it was my job to tell others so they would believe and not end up in hell, though I did not really know how to do that very well and so did not do much of it.  I had a pretty good idea what behavior amounted to sin and what behavior did not.  And, I definitely had a handle on the should list–You should go to church every Sunday.  You should bring money with you to put in the offering plate.  And if you were a woman, you should volunteer for the nursery, especially if your child/ren  used the nursery. 

My “Christian” spiritual journey covers a pretty wide spectrum.  Some of the eight fellowships my family has attended in the last 25 years encouraged us to join prayer groups, teach Sunday school, and lead small groups.  A couple expected us to sit stand and kneel at specific times in the service and one or two expected us to worship with abandon (AKA: dance, lift holy hands, wave banners, speak in tongues).  I did it all.  I also fell prostrate before the Lord, spent hours in my prayer closet, relieve prophetic words and pictures, and experienced “labor” (birthing something new for God is the best interpretation I ever got).  One year we avoided Halloween altogether, two or three we participated in “Harvest Day Celebrations” instead, and one time we turned all the lights on in the house and gave out king-size candy bars–all for differing “spiritual” reasons.

Since my spiritual shift  all the stuff I used to do in order to capture God’s attention, feel His presence, or be in His will has flown out the window.  My should list has disintegrated.   Some might say I have lost faith.  I have “quite fellowshipping” in traditionally recognizable ways.  I no longer look to others to tell me what to believe though I have found some outside voices that echo my heart.  Today, I am much more intersted in where people are and how they got to be there than in pushing them somewhere else.  In college a friend taped the following quotation by Joseph Joubert to my dorm room door, “It is better to debate a question without settling it then to settle a question without debating it.”  Such an attitude is dangerous is most religious circles.  But, I can not help but think God smiles whenever we, like little children, ask why.

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Responses

  1. This post clearly reflects the Minnow I’ve come to know and love. In the last four years, you have been one of the most “effective” Christians in my life. I use the word “effective” because it’s a lot easier to feel like we’re on the path, or being effective, when we’re part of an established church group. When we have pipelines of service already laid out fo us, or when we’re simply surrounded by people who reflect our Christianity back to us, it’s a lot easier to feel faithful.

    Your faithfulness has reached outside the walls and into my life, even during my darkest times. You loved me even when I didn’t love myself. I see you living the scripture.

  2. Radically Authentic–
    You my friend are incredibly gracious!


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