Sunday, June 04, 2017
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Crisis of Faith
I had been chatting with God off and on throughout the past few weeks, telling Him that something was wrong but I couldn't put my finger on it. I was having a crisis of faith but at the same time I felt closer to Him than ever before. I knew He lives and that He really does watch over my life. Even when the world seems upside down. Something different was causing my distress.
The darkness I felt began during the election as many that I once shared so much in common with began to talk and write with such... hate. I have always walked the two worlds between what I would call a hippy nature and orthodoxy. Between John Denver (secular) and Rich Mullins (Christian).
I care very much about many of the same things my online friends and acquaintances care about... organic local food, eating in season, slow cooking, taking care of the land around me, making things by hand, enjoying nature, and so much more.
For a long time, our mutual interests did not clash with my orthodoxy... the fact that I base my life and morals on what the Bible says. After a lifetime of studying God's Word, I believe Jesus is who He said He was and I believe in the Truth of God's word. Forever and ever, Amen. No amount of shouting in my face will change that firm foundation.
At the same time, I began to notice that some of the people I admire but who have an intense dislike for conservative Christians had grown up in the Church and made that decision at one time to give it up and along with it... often Jesus Himself. I'm sure there are as many stories as there are individuals living them out each day.
So what does all of this have to do with sitting in a chair, sipping decaf tea, and turning on the television? Well, I'm glad you asked. I perused through the shows playing at the time and saw an interview I wanted to watch with an author on Book TV. (Yes, I even watch television about books.) I enjoyed the last part of the interview and I was going to turn the TV off when I heard the intro to the next interview. I was intrigued.
For the author being interviewed was one who had once been a part of Christian TV and had left after very bad experiences. I decided to watch the interview. Parts of it made me sad for the person had left the faith entirely and I never quite caught whether they returned or not. Then there were the parts that I understood only too well.
It was while listening to this interview, at a time I had not planned on watching TV, that I heard that Still Small Voice speaking to me. "There is your real source of that edgy feeling. You haven't dealt with your own feelings toward the Church." I'd just as soon not think about it, thank you very much.
However, I absolutely knew for certain that God had led me to view the interview at that time. For you see, He is not angry with our honest questions. He understands when we are confused or upset... even when we try to nudge those feelings below the surface as if they don't exist. We can't get away with hiding them, or else we become depressed or... edgy.
As I listened to the author's story, I felt God was opening my eyes to how I could relate. Oh, various facts were not the same. Their first spiritual and emotional attack happened when they were still very young in Christ and it was before a watching world. Mine was more the drip, drip, drip of water that eventually erodes even the strongest of rocks.
In many of the churches I attended, I was made to feel different than those who had been there all their life. I was fortunate that my first long term church experience was wonderful, in a large Presbyterian church that had a loving staff and great teaching. Having come out of the Jesus revival, I thought this was the way the Christian life would always be.
I was wrong. Very wrong. For as we changed churches through the years (mostly due to moving), most of the churches we attended were not so wonderful. Most of the time I didn't fit in. Quite often because we were the new people and in the mind of those who were in charge of the church, this was their home away from home and only those who grew up in that congregation or who grew up in the tradition belonged.
As I listened to that author speak, tears came to my eyes. Tears because I knew watching this person speak was God ordained. He loved me so much that He wanted me to hear this, as an answer to my question as to why I was becoming more edgy about so many things.
It was because, since the election, I had to dig deeper into my faith to stand up for what I believe while, yet... I could understand how some of those who leaned toward spiritual things outside the Church had come to find their way there.
I wanted to sit with them, sipping herbal tea and nibbling organic cookies, and tell them I understood. I have walked where they have walked. On different but similar paths. I wanted them to know that Jesus understands how it feels to be rejected. He who gave the Law and created the Sabbath and birthed the Church... he didn't fit in with the religious of the day, either.
God used that interview to remind me of where I have been and what I needed. Instead of finding the places we disagree, I need to be praying for them to finally find Him. The One who loves them more than they could ever understand. He loves me that much and them that much and you that much.
Will I ever return to the organized church? I'm not sure. Exhaustion that is both physical and emotional caused me to finally stop attending many years ago. I understood the physical at the time, I didn't realize the emotional until later. I'm sure if the right opportunity came along, I would at least give it a try.
In the meantime, I will catch myself when I'm being judgmental towards those who think differently than I do about God and politics and social stuff. I'm not going to agree with their beliefs but I'm very willing to love them in our disagreement. Never watering down the Gospel of Christ but also hoping to never represent it with anything less than love. Never returning hate with hate.
I'm sorry about the rambling here for I have rewritten words and removed paragraphs and changed around sentences all day but it is now time for this baby to land. It has been circling around in my head, not unlike the jets which circle O'Hare International Airport... waiting for their turn at the gates.
So I leave my musings and pray that they are understood. With grace.