Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dance instead of Doubt

I love Sally Lloyd-Jones The Jesus Storybook Bible Of course, so do my children. That book makes my voice crack when I read it to them, my eyes often mist up.

Sometimes I even sob

Simple, basic truths but told in such a touching way. So simple. So mind blowing. And this is a Children's book that has me on my face, sometimes in questioning awe: is His love that great?

I'm a self professed questioner but I can't deny God. I can't deny His existence, and, though I am oft-times lacking in faith, I haven't been able to deny that He really is working in my life.

Since I love the Jesus Storybook Bible, I looked forward to her new release, a book of devotions for kids. I haven't read it all yet, as it just arrived yesterday. Already the stories are beautiful and the prose beautifully written. Because of my own doubts and questions and a desire to truly follow God instead of the questions, cynicism and skepticism, I thought I'd supplement my own reading with this book. Keep in mind, that I'm reading through the Bible, and I often, near exclusively, read non-fiction Christian books. Lots of them. I gobble books. Classics like C. S. Lewis, old dead puritans, and the newer releases too. One would think that with this steady diet of good books by some amazing theologians I'd be a super christian.

I'm not. I still live in doubts and questions.

By choice, as I'm realizing more fully.

In the foreword of Sally Lloyd-Jones Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Tim Keller (one of my absolute favorite authors....  so much so, that it borders on idol worship, if I am honest and his book Counterfeit Gods probably heightened that!) wrote this:

"Somehow, however, the experiential side of a relationship with God is often neglected, so that by the time children are teens, they are woefully lopsided - long on information, but short on experience of God's presence." 

I'm lopsided! I could use a HUGE dose of experiencing God vs. doctrine and knowledge about Him. I need to see God in my life more, to not only know His love but experience it.

So, I thought, though I am (just) over 40, I'd read this book with myself in mind, prayerfully being open. And that sounds so odd..... being "open" to teaching from a child's book!

But I am.

I'd love to type out the devotion that I read today that I am putting at the forefront of my mind, but that would probably be frowned upon, to write out a whole devotion. But basically, it was a reminder that it is sin to put myself in the center instead of God.

Small words but huge implication. It is so easy to put me in the center. To abide by my own selfishness. So easy and you become numb to it, this sin.

Today I choose to participate in this "Dance of Joy" by orbiting God, not putting myself in the center and demanding life circle around me and my timetable, desires, and questions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day One

I'm a Christian but I don't always act like it. Sometimes I don't even want to act like it. Sometimes "being a Christian" (to me) seems to be to turn off your brain, talk in a language of religiosity and be perpetually happy with a "come what may" attitude that seems to make no sense. I just feel there must be more. Maybe that attitude is from Christ. I don't know.

I know God is sovereign, but sometimes do we really do Him any favors by perpetually trying to explain his sovereignty? Why is it so often fit into what we want? How can we really know what He wants? In the same scenario, what God wants can easily be deciphered in either direction. I've heard so many decisions explained away with a spiritual component. How do they know?

And I have become a jaded cynic. Does God truly speak today? Does he actually reveal our paths?

Sometimes it seems so ugly; so ungodly. Sometimes I want to shake people and say, "do you realize what you're saying?"

I long to make sense of God, but sometimes I think we try too hard. I think I'd rather let God be one of mystery than one that fits so neatly into a box of my choosing. Because I usually choose wrong.

I've spent four years in the Questions. I've spent 4 years in Angst, trying to figure out God and myself. And I actually emerged more entrenched in the questions and refusing to trade them, even for Christ Himself. I've refused Him so I could keep my questions.

Keep my non-conformist ways.

Keep an arms length from Christianity, the Christianity that I find fault with. That is imperfect. That is, at times, misguided and wrong and heartbreaking.

But what I chose was worse. The questions have eaten me up. Become my identity. My misery.

I've heard that it is all a choice but I've refused that. How can it be a mere choice? Isn't that of our own doing? Where's God in my choices?

My decision to treat someone kindly when I don't feel like it.

But.... isn't that what Christ asks me to do? So isn't that...... obedience? What if it is all obedience? What if it is trading what I want, what is easier to me, for what I already know I should do? What is even, at times, common sense.

I don't know my answers, but today my prayer was "more of You, less of me". In EVERYTHING. In my exchange with a woman at McDonalds. Outside with my neighbors, being chatty when I didn't feel chatty. Lunch with a friend I love., and a great, open honest conversation with her. (okay, that was easy). In my Community Group, a place where (at times) I can play a role of a rebel brat, even though I'm the leader of the group. Let that go, and just genuinely listened to them. And.... it was great. I smiled. I was happy. I liked it.

But my biggest fear is: Is God really in this? Am I finding happiness in Him or just this change in behavior? How can I know it is God, not me going through the motions, OR... is this "going through the motions" what we call "obedience"?

Yes, I over think things.

An Obedient Rebel

I'm an obedient rebel. Sounds like an oxymoron; 2 things that can't exist at the same time. And maybe that's true. Maybe one can't actually be obedient and a rebel at the same time. But I thought so. Basically, it is just enough to rebel and refuse submitting an surrendering all to Christ, but still do all the outward things.

Perhaps a better word for it is a hypocrite? I think I like the term obedient rebel a lot more and to me, it truly reflects it better. No one wants to be a hypocrite. No one starts out with that in mind. But obedient rebellion, that's different. Because at least on some level you started on a journey of desiring to do the right thing. You even want to do the right thing. Sometimes. Plus, on obedient rebel is simply too scared of the consequences of true rebellion; so they obey. But not for God; not out of a reverent love and acknowledgement of who He is and who we in turn are. No real surrender and understanding that He is the Creator and I the creature.

Obedient rebels go through the motion.
Obedient rebels are involved in (too many) church programs.
Obedient rebels can be your most valuable "doer" in the church.

But inside, the rebellion is a quiet one against God. A refusal to submit. To give him 100%.

Sometimes I think it is even "trendy" or acceptable to be an obedient rebel. Obedient rebels question. And I'm not saying questions are bad; I am saying that it is easier to question and hide behind the questions and pointing out the imperfections.

What do you think? How would you define "obedient rebellion"? How have you rebelled? In loud ways or quiet ways? Do you regret your rebellion? I nearly thought it was safe - this obedient rebellion -- but now I know it isn't save. It hurts me. It hurts those around me. It might even hurt those around me more than by explicit rebellion.

What do you think? Is any rebellion against God "safe"?