Wednesday, 28 October 2015

paradox disbelief and You

Lord, it was so much easier (in some respects) when the Adam and Eve story was, to me, true in a physical--fundamentalist--sense ... no doubts about the "facts" ...

I just wish right now that it was "that simple" ...I don't know why I feel that way ... maybe it just makes the effects of sin easier to explain, even accept ... and less likely to wonder about other things in the Bible ... And how, if it really is "God's Word," why does the "evidence" of life seem not to line up so well with it.

I do believe in Your wisdom and in You, I really do ... oddly enough, the more I have questions, the more I believe! But I feel so ... well, so paradoxical. Why is it that so much about You is paradoxical ... at least in terms of our human experience.

"The last shall be first." ... "Righteous through suffering." (And a 7 day creation story, with two original, specially created first people, in a world that from a scientific perspective seems to say something quite different. And yet ... I still believe the meta-narrative at least ... but I find myself more and more wanting to believe the "details" in a simple child-like way ... like I used to.

"Just believe." There was a time when I really liked to be a "rebel" and "question things." Now I just want to believe. Accept. You. Even when that seems to require that I somehow totally "suspend my disbelief" no matter the questions I have.

It's like there are different kinds of belief--and how they interact (or don't), I don't know. How is it that I can "believe the evidence of science" -- and of my senses, and of daily experiences, and the experiences of multitudes, throughout history even--on the one hand; and yet at the same time believe (or at least desperately want to believe... I think maybe I'm finally moving toward that mustard seed ... in You (and all that goes along with You).

"My kingdom is not of this world."
Indeed. Truly.
But this world is where You put us. The home You made for us (however that happened ... and yes, the 7 days and nights explanation sure does hold appeal, even if "scientifically" we scoff ...).

(Prov 3:19-20) I guess that's it ... the focus is You, Your wisdom and understanding ... so far beyond ... so OTHER than ours ... And yet, You created us "in Your image." Somehow, we have a share in You, in Your wisdom, in spite of our limitations (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and our sin.

You are the meta-narrative, and we are so small within it. We really "can't see the forest for the trees" for the most part--but You allow us glimpses sometimes ... and mostly we prefer to scamper back into the "safety" of the darkness of the little patch of forest we "know."

So foolish--
When You want us to meet, encounter--embrace--Your wisdom. Embrace You.
Oh boy.

(from my journal, Nov. 11, 2013)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

struggles in relationship with God

Oh Father, You know I want to be close to You...
Why am I having such a hard time focusing on You?
Sometimes I wonder if I've just wandered too far away, and "lost it" ... salvation, connection, relationship ... You. :-(
I know its not true, but sometimes it sure nags at me.
Are You a "nag"? No! So I know it comes from either the enemy, and/or my own brain/ memories/ perspectives/ old nature/ whatever.

I mean, You are here right now. I know it, even feel it deep down, with certainty. So why do I have such a hard time opening my Bible? Why, sometimes, do I even question "belief in God"? And yet, when others scoff at belief in God, I do want to stand up for You.

I don't know. Maybe it's just that "belief in God" and "belief in Jesus" seem so much "deeper," so much "beyond" the "formulas" I once held on to. More that just "affirmations" to repeat, sing, cling to.
I want to cling to YOU. Not to theories.
I think my most effective "written prayers" were that--clinging to You, rather than repeating "mantras," so to speak.

Why is "relationship with You" so hard for me? Why can't I just have relationship as it flows, without constantly worrying if it's done right or wrong, and if I am pleasing you or not?
Maybe that's my problem--my deep-down fear of being "wrong," being a "failure" and "not pleasing You" ... and BEING REJECTED!

So I just googled "impute righteousness" ... and YOU HAVE! Wow! All the emphasis on "relationship" and Your love is wonderful and uplifting ... BUT:
Your imputed (credited, justified, saved, forgiven, counted) righteousness in/through Jesus -- that is far more amazing and awesome! We can't have the "relationship" without the imputed righteousness--which of course comes from Your "so loved the world." How true it is--the great commandment--based upon Your very character: love! God is love!

I think I lost sight of the GOOD NEWS!!
Thank you for pointing me back! (Ironically, through my fear of judgment ... which I often call down: ie. "free pass from hell"... except for me it is not fear of hell but FEAR OF BEING CUT OFF FROM YOU.

(excerpts from my journal, October 2013)

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

How do we get together daily?

Dear God,

Why, if You have liberated me, is that old "legalism-added" gospel -- which holds the basic truths but adds all those false "legal requirements" -- still hanging on in me?  How, oh how, does one more from the "intellectual assent" to living in the truth --living in Jesus, the Truth.

We have Your Spirit. We have You. We have Father.

But it seems that, wrapped as we still are in our same physical bodies, and minds built with, filled with culture, and religious teaching, and such, and surrounded by the culture and the "old" ways of the world... We need constant physical reminders, exhortation, modeling, encouragement...
We need each other. Your body. Physical, touchable, hearable, in-our-face so to speak.

Daily. "Aye, there's the rub." How do we get together daily? I'm really beginning to believe that a meeting -- or two, three, even -- a week, is NOT doing it.

I want, I need, "open house."

Why, oh why, can't people just drop in? We eat supper every day. Just come by. Potluck if you want, or just dig in to what's there.

And maybe, just maybe, I could "drop in" on you once in a while? (If that's not your thing, you can just say "no." After all, most people weren't brought up by my mom and grandparents, or in a First Nations village like my husband was).

As long as it doesn't become too programmed...

(I originally wrote this in my journal Sept 1, 2013. I'm digging into past writing, and will be sharing bits and pieces. As well as some current thoughts...)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Epidemic of Wandering Away From God

October 7, 2015

Today I was reading in James 5, in The Message:

"My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God."

I really never have understood that before--the urgency not only of "seeking the lost" as we were taught in my growing-up years, but equally (and maybe even more so?) the urgency of going after those who already have known and followed God's truth, and have started wandering off. That wandering could of course be an increasing return to following one's own ways and the ways of the world, but it could also be a wandering into a focus on some aspect of Christian belief, which takes over and eventually ignores not only the complete gospel message, but more critically, the focus on Christ himself.  Even a focus on some single aspect of Jesus Christ--his love, for example--wonderful as that aspect is, and how much it defines him, can draw us aways from his completeness and wholeness, and thereby draw us away from him, without us even realizing it.

And the thing that really struck me-gobsmacked me, even--when I was reading these verses from James 5, was the power of one person's wandering, and the incredible importance of going after them, not only to rescue them and prevent them from personal destruction, but also to "prevent an epidemic of wandering away from God." It is sad but so true that when one person wanders, others too often follow. They might follow because they trust this "person of God." They might follow because the emotional appeal of the "focus" that person is wrapped up in, tied up in, is very appealing (like a focus on God's love), or very frightening (like God's judgment--and the person seems to be offering a way to be safe from it), or some other aspect that creates a strong emotional response. They might follow because we still live in our earthly bodies, and our earthly minds are still in the process of being changed into the mind of Christ, and so we still have, to some degree, an attraction to earthly pleasures, and to earthly kinds of wisdom, and to worldly ways of leadership and power. 

So when a person wanders, it can become like allowing a person with a virulent strain of influenza loose in a crowd of people, or tossing a smouldering ember into dry grass. "It only takes a spark to get a fire going." It's so catching because believers wandering from God is easy and often very attractive--and often in our limited vision of things we don't even realize it is happening, until a whole crowd of believers have wandered off. And by that time the enemy is chortling with glee, and non-believers are looking on and shaking their heads, convinced that there is no sense in becoming a believer and follower of Jesus.

We used to sing the old, urgent Fanny Crosby hymn, "Rescue the Perishing," and I know that I, at least, thought of it only in terms of going after "sinners, the lost, unbelievers, pagans." It really didn't occur to me that it could--and does--refer strongly  to rescuing those who are wandering away from the Lord who has already saved them, but in rescuing them, we truly are preventing that epidemic of wandering from God. And it happens so easily. We, the church, really do need each other, always clearly united and led by the Spirit of God, to be constantly aware and vigilant that each of us personally, and all of us as a group, are truly following Jesus alone, on "the straight and narrow path" upon which he leads us. It is an urgent situation:

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.
Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

And I freely admit, right now, that I have been wandering, focusing on things "I don't like" (like some of the institutional approaches of churches) and things that I don't understand or find hard to accept (like why God allows so much suffering and how a God of love can also have a place like Hell). I have lost my love for and focus on Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, and have whined and complained to fellow believers, drawing them into my personal wanderings; and have also whined and complained to non-believers, confirming them in their perceptions of Christianity. 

Some of the things I have wondered about and focused upon are totally legitimate questions that need understanding and answers; and are areas in which the church really needs to reconsider where it has gone and how it has perhaps failed and needs to move closer to Jesus and his path. But when I have focused on those questions to the extent that I myself have wandered from my relationship and trust in Jesus--and have led others to do so as well--I too have needed rescuing, as do those I have led astray, as well as prevention from me leading even more astray. 

There are those who have tried to warn me, but I admit I mostly  haven't been a good listener, wrapped up as I have been in my anger and frustration and puzzlement--yet obviously they, along with God's endlessly patient Spirit, have been getting through to me, pulling me back, rescuing me.  

But I have also been "cocooned" by a world (including a church which has bought into the world's view of "tolerance," or presenting the gospel as a kind of seeker-friendly entertainment, or whatever), instead of a church consumed by love of Jesus and thereby patiently, lovingly, gracefully, kindly, yet "urgently" reaching out and rescuing those who have not yet known Him--and rescuing those who, for whatever reason, often without realizing it, have wandered from Him.   

Though they are slighting Him, still he is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand'rer a Savior has died.

(Post on My Church Journey Oct 7, 2015)