I landed upon this tonight, as I was taking a more leisurely browsing of this blog’s archives – a blog that I have been subscribing to for a while. I no longer remember what originally led me to this guy’s blog, but I like it a lot! I highly recommend reading the whole thing!!! (It was originally 4 posts, condensed together to more easily tell a story, if you initially find it to be long, stick with it!) I don’t think any of my readers are likely to be squeamish about language, but if four-letter words trouble you, don’t click on it, I guess. Anyway, here’s a few snippets (the words in color, that is) from the “Real Live Preacher’s” post to whet your own appetite. At the end, I will focus on just one snippet and reflect on and connect to my own life experience and/or perception of things faithful.
So now, enjoy the snippets, and check out the post from rlp (aka Gordon Atkinson) for the story in its entirety.
“For Christ’s sake” packs a punch when you mean it literally.
In spite of these troubles, I still believed that something beautiful was possible for the Church. I dreamed of finding a small community of people, dedicated to Christ and to bringing God’s love to the world. These people would be bold enough to live authentic lives and not be tied to a Christian sub-culture.
I would say I longed for a spiritual journey and not a religious assimilation.
I started noticing something. When the doctors said someone was going to die, they did. When they said 10% chance of survival, about 9 out of 10 died. The odds ran pretty much as predicted by the doctors. I mean, is this praying doing ANYTHING?
I’m sophisticated enough to understand the value of human contact, but prayer is supposed to affect the outcome, right?
I began to feel the “ping” of a tiny hammer, tapping away at my faith.
Likewise, we think having faith means being convinced God exists in the same way we are convinced a chair exists. People who cannot be completely convinced of God’s existence think faith is impossible for them.
Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith. (emphasis added by me.)
I learned that it doesn’t matter in the least that I be convinced of God’s existence. Whether or not God exists is none of my business, really. What do I know of existence? I don’t even know how the VCR works.
What does matter is whether or not I am faithful. I think faithful is a hell of a good word. It still has some of its original shine. It still calls us to action.
My old demons still haunt me. Voices whisper to me on dark nights, saying, “You know there is no God. You’re wasting your life and you are a fool.”
I hear the voices, but they have very little power because you know I’m not going to stop now.
Regarding this last snippet: I am torn between feeling that sort of confidence in my own heart and soul, and worry that it will be some sort of smugness that will smack me laughably and tauntingly in the face one day…but I don’t think so! I can feel a sort of connection with that sort of concept. What do you think? That is, of the demons/voices not being able to stop us now?
Comment if you want…ponder privately if you prefer that….but it reminds me of something the previous SD (SD=spiritual director) once told me, when I was wondering – worriedly – if I’d “slack off” someday as regarded the life of prayer and faith in general. “You won’t,” he replied without skipping a beat. I took that comment with a grain of salt at the time, seeming too easy and pat of an answer for him to issue forth to me without seeming to have given even a moment’s thoughtful consideration, but in hindsight, I believe he may well have known just exactly what (I believe?) he was talking about.
Of course, in one sense I have, and quite currently really AM slacking off regarding my prayer discipline. But on another level, the one that is infinitely more important, I really feel that I can never “go back” to how it used to be. It would, at this point, be nigh unto impossible for me to be a peacefully non-praying person. When I don’t pray there is a distinct lack of peace and a sense that God has a sort of hook in me that will not leave me alone and will, one way or another, keep drawing me back and demanding some sort of faithful response. That is maddening. That is achingly wonderful. And these quite often at the precise same complicated moment inside my chaotic head and heart. And of course, as rlp and so many wise others will tell us, it is the response that is where real faithfulness lies. Actions without prayer can be undiscerning and misguided even if well-intentioned, but prayer without actions is merely warm-n-fuzzy-feeling-seeking. I am beginning to believe, that I, too, “won’t stop.” Again, at the great risk of looking back one day with a cringe at my self-proclaimed overconfidence, but believing on some level that the confidence is properly rooted in Christ, and therefore justified, however ineffectual my attempts at living it out may be, I resonated greatly with this turning point that rlp includes in his story:
Once I stumbled upon this very old truth, I prayed the most honest prayer of my life.
God, I don’t have great faith, but I can be faithful. My belief in you may be seasonal, but my faithfulness will not. I will follow in the way of Christ. I will act as though my life and the lives of others matter. I will love.
I have no greater gift to offer than my life. Take it.
That’s it. I pushed all my chips across the table. The preacher bet it all. Why? Because the idea that there is a God who cares for us busts my heart wide open. Because I pushed reason as far as it can go but I wanted to go farther still. Because I wanted to, and… well… I just wanted to.
I’m an idiot and out of my mind, and I don’t care who knows it.
‘Tis a gift that needs to be offered again, and again. Repent and Return. (in the purest, non-loaded metanoia sense of the R&R I can muster with my limited linguistic abilities!) Something that could be described thusly: Mess up, come back and offer my life to be taken by my God again, and again. Brings tears to your eyes, at least it does for me.
Yup. I’m an idiot too, and thankful for the grace of God that strengthens me to aspire to such idiocy.
For your convenience, here’s the link to rlp’s original posting again:
Peace, all! – Karla