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Saturday, April 7, 2012

I don't know much, but I ask a lot of questions

Mom says I was the nosiest kid she ever saw—and the woman—bless her—raised seven of us so she had her own pool of research material from which to form her opinion. She says when new neighbors moved in, I’d know everything about them before their boxes were unloaded from the truck. How many kids, where’d they move from, what were their names and ages (even the adults) and did they go to church?

It’s in my make-up to ask questions. To try to find out about everything and anything that interests me. And Jesus interests me. His life, his ways, His place in my life.
Sometimes my questions make people uncomfortable, and I get that. As an adult, I’ve learned to dial back my curiosity a little, when talking to people, but never with Jesus. David didn’t. He could dance in his underwear in abandoned praise one day and rail at God the next. WHY?????? GOD!!!

And I think God was cool with that.

There are fundamental questions I am confident in—that I’ve staked my life on. Did God create the world? Yes

Is Jesus His son? Yes, I believe He is and that He died for me. I know I’m filled with His Holy Spirit and I am one-hundred percent sure that God loves me—even though I’m also one-hundred percent sure I’m not worth it. And knowing I’m not worth it, and yet He still has infinite good and precious thoughts toward me wrecks me a little. Especially when I take time to dwell on it. The certainty of his great love fills me with the greatest desire my heart knows: to unravel the mystery of Him.

But beyond that, the questions are too big for me to blindly accept pat answers and clichés like “all is well” and “this too shall pass” as statements of faith when things are…BAD. I hate this. I hate that I have so many unanswered questions like: why is half the world prosperous and the other half dying of hunger and plagues?

And I wonder…Am I the only one?

I’m not a new Christian. I’ve loved God my whole life, it seems. But even at six years old when we attended a dogmatic church that taught they were the only ones going to heaven, I questioned: What if it’s not us? What if the Baptists are the right ones, or the Methodists? Or God-forbid, the Jehovah’s Witnesses—which would have been a tragedy since the only Jehovah’s Witness kid I knew had to paint pictures while the rest of my class had a Christmas party. Even that young, I questioned church theology. And it drove me crazy. Why couldn’t I just get on the bandwagon and accept what I was taught?

Today, I understand that salvation is about Jesus, not which group you feel most comfortable sitting next to on Sunday. And for the most part, I love the messages that focus on Jesus, his ways, his love, his message of giving—not to get—and gentleness, goodness, grace to those who need it most. I want to be that kind of girl. That can look past the annoyances and love anyway. Why does everyone have to conform to the status quo to be accepted in our opulent buildings? And not that I have a problem with great buildings. I attend a church with a great building and a coffee shop. It’s the attitude inside that kills it for me most of the time.

More questions…What about healing? Do people die because they don’t have enough faith? Or does God just randomly pick the ones he chooses to heal? Why do some people believe Him, pray unending healing scripture prayers and still die, emaciated, hairless, and in agony?

Why Jesus? Why do we sit on our high horse and assume faith is the issue? Or a lack of faith.

Or is it?

I have some friends who have utter belief in God’s sovereignty. If a Tsunami takes out Japan, well, God’s will. If an earthquake splits a country down the middle killing thousands of children and separating families—God’s will. If a baby dies of SIDS. God’s will. Cancer? Time’s up, baby.

I don’t know. I can’t get my head wrapped around that one either. Does God have a split personality? Chemical imbalance. Does he have whims where one day He’s in a good mood and brings on the sun, the next he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and BOOM…F5 tornado spins uncontrollably through Joplin killing husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons and daughters.

I know, I know…The rain falls on the just and the unjust.

I just don’t understand why…

I have two options it’s seems. God will move on behalf of those with enough faith and bless them financially, physically, emotionally and relationally, or He’ll do whatever he (insert D-Word here) well pleases and we can either like it or not, He doesn’t really care.

Honestly, I think the truth lies somewhere in the divide. But I’m baffled as to what it is. Jesus told us, we are to ask, knock and seek. But no one, besides Jesus, seems to have the patience to deal with the asking, knocking, and seeking. If I challenge one perspective, I get the too-bad-you’re-not-going-to-be-blessed look of sympathy and ultimate frustration from the one trying to share their version of the answer. Plus, it’s assumed I’m still an immature Christian and just need to grow—which I do, but the absurdity of assuming someone who disagrees with you is immature still bumps up against my pride. Which I guess proves their point, after all.

If I challenge the sovereignty folks, well, I’m not surrendered enough yet. More proof of my spiritual infancy.

And I’m probably not surrendered and I could definitely use some prosperity about now—actually even provision would be a step up.

Jesus is the answer and I know God is love.

But then, there’s the death and pain and bloated baby bellies.

I’ll admit I don’t get God and His ways. They are higher, yes. But I think we are meant to know some of the mysteries. Faith people are dogmatic about it. They have no patience for people like me. And neither do the sovereignty people. But I’m not comfortable throwing in my lot with bearded thirty-somethings who sit in coffee houses and rag on both groups. I love them both. The faith people and the sovereignty people. I know they truly believe—whichever way they tilt. And I want to be respectful of those beliefs. I love the bearded thirty-somethings too, but they’re as messed up as I am, so it’s not really about them.

I’m not worried about whether or not God gets me. I know He does. He’s not a bit surprised or offended by my utter lack of conformity---even though I truly wish I could conform. Somewhere. And the last thing I’d ever want to do is be a stumbling block to anyone because of my questions.

But I’m sort of stuck on this point: are the questions we ask more important than the answers. God wants the dialogue, the conversation, the opportunity to move into our narrow lives and show us the bigger picture.

Maybe it’s not about who sent the Tsunami or Earthquake as much as it is, what will I do to help in the devastation, which so far has been zero effort. Maybe it’s not about the teenager who died a year or so ago of cancer when an entire faith church and her mother were begging for a miracle, but rather, can I open my arms and share the pain of loss? Maybe it’s not about if the new young woman in church is inappropriately dressed or doesn’t understand that her baby should be in the nursery where it won’t disturb those of us who are “churched”. Maybe it’s more about loving and accepting her even if her baby cries every single service. If half the men and the closet lesbians in church are gawking at her boobs and tramp stamp. Maybe it’s about figuring out why we are so quick to raise ourselves up on our self-constructed pedestals, so just maybe we can get over ourselves.

Big houses and pretty cars do nothing for the hurting, and I’m sick to death of hearing about how I can have my best life—from the televangelists and Oprah who are essentially preaching the same message. But I’m comfortable with believing the Bible, and God truly does, it seems, take pleasure in the prosperity of his people. I believe God wants His people healthy and whole. But I think he also wants us broken and bleeding. That’s the thing about this life. And it’s why it’s so hard to figure out. One side of the coin is I’ll take care of you. Ask and you’ll receive. The other side is…F5 tornado.

I think this is part of what Jesus meant when he said he wasn’t here to bring peace, but a sword. His edge slicing at my comfort, my status quo and the core of my belief system.

Is holiness more important than happiness?

I’m not bitter about the conundrum. Just trying to unravel it in a way that makes sense to me from a Jesus standpoint. But really, faith makes no sense. But I still believe in Jesus. I love him in a deep-down way that forces me to ask Him to show me who He is. What truly pleases Him and sometimes if He’ll let me keep my house and give me a new contract—which I kind of think will never happen if I don’t stop making people mad.

But again, maybe it’s not about if I ever get another contract or if anyone reads anything I write. Basically, the questions force me to either sigh in frustration or run to the Bible and try really hard to read without my preconceived and brainwashed notions on either side of the coin.

It’s a mystery. One I hope to solve in this lifetime—and I guess if my house is in the path of the next whopping big tornado, I’ll figure it out a lot sooner.

1 comment:

Kristine McGuire said...

Personally, I need to focus right about here:

"Maybe it’s not about who sent the Tsunami or Earthquake as much as it is, what will I do to help in the devastation, which so far has been zero effort. Maybe it’s not about the teenager who died a year or so ago of cancer when an entire faith church and her mother were begging for a miracle, but rather, can I open my arms and share the pain of loss? Maybe it’s not about if the new young woman in church is inappropriately dressed or doesn’t understand that her baby should be in the nursery where it won’t disturb those of us who are “churched”. Maybe it’s more about loving and accepting her even if her baby cries every single service."

 
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