Sunday, August 30, 2009

Almost There

Two days left. This has been a really long month for me mentally. The self-imposed pressure of writing every day, combined with an unpaid week off work, the weird weather that made it seem more like fall than summertime (bleh!), and all these questions I'm trying to work through, has left me mentally and emotionally exhausted. I don't necessarily think this is negative, it's just the way I feel. I have more I want to write about my topic from Tuesday, but every time I sit down to write about it, whatever I put on the screen is all jumbled and confusing.

I want to write about religious tradition vs. biblical beliefs, but I still have so much research to do that I don't feel I can even begin to cover the topic. I do know that I am trying to sort out for myself what things I do or believe that are just traditions and then determine if those things are useful or helpful to me.

I want to write more about trust. I am still having trouble with this. I've thought a lot about
Isaiah 55:8 & 9, which reads, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." On one hand, it is reassuring to me, because it's a reminder that I am obviously not the first person to have questions about God and why he does what he does. That God sees the big picture and I can only see what's right in front of me. But it is also disconcerting because that doesn't answer questions to just say, "Well, he's God and we just can't know." I really don't think that's what God was trying to say, but sometimes it feels like it.

I want to write more about how I've often thought of my beliefs. I realized that because of so many negative things I dislike about 'Christianity' and many who profess it, I am moderately ashamed to say I am a Christian. I am not ashamed that I have a relationship with God, it's more some kind of misplaced guilt for being affiliated with a religion that people can so easily distort and have distorted for so many years. This guilt has impacted my life and decisions and opinions regarding church and people who attend church. I realize it is not my fault if other people get it so wrong, but I am having a really difficult time coming up with an acceptable answer, for myself and for others, as to why this happens and what I can do about it.

I want to write more about questions. I keep going back to one of my favorite Rob Bell excerpts:

Central to the Christian experience is the art of questioning God. Not belligerent, arrogant questions.... but naked, honest, vulnerable, raw questions, arising out of the awe that comes from engaging the living God. This type of questioning frees us. Frees us from having to have it all figured out. Frees us from always having to be right. It allows us to have moments when we come to the end of our ability to comprehend.

To me this is not about giving up and accepting that something doesn't makes sense to me. I truly believe it would be wrong to just resign myself to not understanding. For me, this is about accepting that I may not understand something right now, but that might be that because of where I am right now, I'm not able to comprehend. BUT, if I keep searching and asking and studying and questioning, I will at some point gain at least some level of understanding in answer to my questions. Something to look forward to.

And I want to write about how all of this has me thinking about the difference between knowledge and experience. Sometimes when I think about people who have different beliefs than I have, I catch myself thinking they are somehow so much more intellectual or enlightened. My beliefs can seem old and quaint and outdated. But that is all about knowledge. That is just picking up some books and reading them and saying that one sounds logical and reasonable while the other seems confusing and crazy. If you just think about it on the surface, if there were a perfect person who never made any mistakes or did anything wrong, why would he chose to die for something he didn't do, just to reconcile the rest of humanity to God? BUT, if you've experienced the relationship and the love, the same story is amazing and beautiful.

So... yeah. I still have more I need to explore in these areas and still more topics I simply couldn't form into decent paragraphs today. The knowledge vs. experience thing is really big for me right now. I am struggling with how to talk about it with people who have only the knowledge and not the experience. Not in a 'come over to my side' way. But for me it is like talking to someone about a friend that person has never met. And in some cases it is like me talking to someone about a friend they have never met, who to them seems like my invisible friend. I just want to be ready with an answer... not a canned, 'Christian' answer, but a real and personal answer, should anyone ask questions.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

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