I've been thinking about how there's never an "arrived" state in our walk with You, at least in this earthly lifetime (and maybe in eternity, as we spend ever more time in Your presence, yet continue to be the creatures, while You will always be the greatest, the Creator).
You keep pointing new things out every time I feel like I'm figuring one thing out. It isn't easy, this walk ... even with Your help and guidance. It's hard to let things go, things that are deeply entangled in myself, whether it is "the world" I'm trying to please (unfortunately) or whether it's entanglements of "Christian culture." Maybe even tougher are the things that are less obvious--like attitudes, honesty, etc. And then there are the aspects of me that have been part of my very "Christian identity" from birth, and I feel a great deal of guilt if I try to follow You in a different way than I was taught as a small child, even if I'm pretty sure You're asking me to ... because, after all (a voice in my head argues), wasn't the old way the right way, the godly way?
We, as Christians, need to realise we are really asking people to give up a lot, to turn their backs on their deepest beliefs and values and personal and group identity when we ask them to turn away from their religion to Christianity. If all we're asking is outer change--activities, etc.--it maybe isn't always that difficult. But if we want them to totally follow Jesus, at a deep heart and relationship level, it is a huge step.
I see just now why I have felt so angry at "traditional church" the last decade or so. I think I've felt betrayed--forced to believe in attitudes and behaviours (in total identity)--things that aren't necessarily so. If only it was totally wrong, it would be easier to separate from, but when it's tangled up, it's so much harder to see what is right and what isn't, and to disentangle from the wrong without damaging what is right--without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as the old saying goes.
And then I wonder ... what if the old way IS right, after all? More guilt. And (oh my goodness), what if it has been my personal struggles with all this that have made Christian belief--and educational issues, too--so difficult for my children (and grandchildren)?
And it just now occurs to me ... what if this is common -- and passed down, in my situation, from my mom and from my grandpa ... I know, looking back, that they struggled, too, even though I consider them among my greatest Christian role models.
And why does the journey seem so much easier for people who see things in "black and white" ... and to "nominally and/or culturally Christian" folk? But as soon as I ask that, it occurs to me that they have a whole set of other difficulties of their own. We all do. It's part of being human (and yes, fallen).
Sometimes I wish--sort of, but mostly not--for the "good old days" when it was easy for me to accept the Bible stories at face value and not go any deeper with them. Faith of a child and all that. But it seems You want us to grow up. And that seems to include a different kind, a different depth of faith.
And anyway, whoever said that "faith" is believing "the stories" without question? Whoever said faith is "in the stories" at all? It isn't. It's in You. And in a way, that's harder. But in another way, it's also a lot easier. Talk about paradox.)
"To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain.... Nothing else but seeing God in everything ... accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us" (HW Smith) "See God in all things, great and small, And give Him praise whate'er befall." (A.E. Finn)