June 11, 2009

My life so far hasn’t prepared me for God’s loving nature, but there’s more–the other realization that came through counseling. This other truth has shaken my faith (though not in the way you might think). It’s caused me to avoid God altogether for the past two weeks.

About twice or three times a year I’ll have a “moment” where it feels as if God has led me up a high mountain and right up to the edge of a cliff. I’ll look down and all I’ll see is clouds far below me. I’m like, “Whoa God! [Nervous chuckle.] That’s … that’s really high! Okay well, it’s been fun, I’m gonna turn around and go home now!” And he’s like, “No no. I want you to jump.”

In my heart, I know if I jumped, I’d be okay. I might not be comfortable and I might not be entirely safe. But I’d be okay.

Then I start thinking of what might happen on the way down.

  • What if no one catches me?
  • Why do I have to jump? No one else is jumping!
  • I’ll be the only one falling with no one to help me … again.
  • How can I take care of myself, control my life, if I’m falling and can’t grip anything?
  • Which of my beloved trinkets would fall out of my pockets?
  • How much money and how many of my prized possessions would fall out of my purse?
  • Who would I be without those things?
  • I don’t know that strange woman who’s not tied to all her stuff; what if she’s nothing like me?
  • I may not like who I am. But at least I’m predictable. Predictable is safe.

So I say, “Wait, what? That’s too high! That’s too dangerous! That’s too much.” And I back away from the edge and head home. As I walk, I feel him walking beside me, but I can’t look at him. I keep my eyes on my feet and hunch my shoulders, and I feel like crap. But I keep walking until I’m safely home.

Some of me chalks this “vision” up to my legalistic nature, and that tendency may play a part. But on the whole, I know what God’s asking of me is in line with the Bible. I mean, knowing what Jesus said, and what Paul and others later explained, how can I believe God isn’t more dangerous and terrifying than we’ve made him out to be? Everyone says he’s loving and tender and gentle–and he is. But he’s more than that. He’s more passionate than that, wilder than that. This has serious implications!

In summary:

  • I don’t believe I’m acceptable “as is,” that I don’t have to work to earn his attention or approval. I don’t believe it’s possible to live the way I’m living (which is not bad by most standards) and still be pleasing to him.
  • I do believe his expectations of me are higher than people say they are. I believe they’re higher than I’d like them to be. I believe his calling is far more dangerous and outlandish than I’d like it to be. I do believe he expects me to give up my life and all I hold dear before he will take me seriously. I do believe the purpose of my life will never be fulfilled if I don’t let it all go and never look back.

I know some of  what I believe is distorted, twisted out of context. But I also know that much of it isn’t.

This is my crisis of faith. It’s not the “Is God real?” kind, because I know he is. Instead, it’s the kind where I look in the mirror and realize (a) I don’t trust God to love me and not hurt me; and (b) I’ve been lying to myself about who he is and how a relationship with him works. These are hard truths for a professing Christian to face.

So now that the truth is on the table; now that I’ve acknowledged my unbelief; now that the lies are no longer an option … which path will I take?

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