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A Change In Season

Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.

Luke 17:19

I think I’m a pretty good person (as people go I suppose).  I have tendencies to feel self righteous, to feel vindicated….to feel right.  I know it’s so not kosher to admit that.  We’re supposed to be humble.  We’re supposed to say that we’re not all that wonderful and fess up to all of our flaws, and I do.  I really do.  However, I all to often put my faith in me.  I mean I have faith in God.  I believe the seasons will change and the flowers I see this year will bloom again next.  I believe my children will arise every morning in pretty much the same condition that I put them down to bed in.  I have faith that I will rise each morning.  I believe that the Earth will continue to rotate on its axis and that the sun will rise and set each day.  I believe these because I’ve seen them happen thousands of times.  If confronted with a given situation, though, would I have faith that God would make me well?  Or rather do I now? If I was presented with a situation in which I had never encountered, in which I had never seen an outcome, would I have faith?  Would I really trust God with it?

There are so many things about my life and about me that aren’t well.  And yet again I am faced with the question of why certain aspects of my life haven’t been made well.  I feel entitled to some wellness.  I’ve suffered.  I’ve fought.  I’m tired.  I’ve given and given and given.  At least I feel like I have.  And I can honestly say that I so often question if God will make me well, will make my life well.  And therein lies the problem, or problems, rather.  Faith and me.  Faith is such a crazy word.  It may take only a mustard seed of faith to be enough, but honestly sometimes my mustard seed seems gigantic.  Sometimes I struggle just to muster up that mustard seed of faith.

As  I enter yet another season of life, one that will no doubt be full of changes, ups, and most likely a bunch of downs, I am challenged in my faith and in my quest for God.  There are just some things that aren’t like the change in season.  They haven’t happened before.  And so it is up to me to have faith anyway, to trust that a way will be made known, that wisdom will be imparted, and that whatever decisions I make will be the best possible ones, and that if they’re not, God will help me through the aftermath of them.  And at the end, when the dust has settled and my eyes are clear, hopefully I will be able to say “My faith made me well.”

Crisis of Faith Part 1: Rules, Regulations, and Legalism

So, I’ve been struggling for some months now about why my husband consistently does not see Christ in me, why he continuously feels that I am not representing Him well.  We’ve had many conversations.  I’m combining those with sermons that have convicted me, with counsel, and with Biblical reading to investigate my faith, why it may not be growing, why it may not shine very bright.  I want to know what I believe and why I believe it.  I don’t want to be a Christian that simply spouts back to people what I’ve heard or “learned”.  This will be in several parts.  I’m once again very hesitant to make myself this vulnerable, this open to ridicule, correction, and judgment.  However, blogging helps me to sort through my thoughts, my days, like a journal, and the comments help me to see myself from a more objective perspective.  I also hope that God’s power will be seen through my situation and that he will be glorified. And so it begins…

I find myself like a Pharisee.  I adhere to rules.  At least I try to.  I like rules.  They make me feel safe, like I can’t really make a mistake if I’m following them.  And if I do make a mistake I’m not as accountable if I’m following a rule set by someone else.  If I only follow rules, I don’t have to think very much.  I don’t have to be an active learner. And besides, I made enough mistakes from birth to the age of 18 to age my parents at least 50 extra years and enough for all my children too. Why?  Because I didn’t follow the rules and guidelines set out for me. For years (probably my whole life) I’ve tried to impose what I believe – whatever it may have been at the time or whatever it may be now – on other people.  I’m right.  They’re wrong.  The end.  At least that is all too often what goes on in my head and heart.  I can even usually back it up with scripture and experience….just like the Pharisees did.  And, well, if you don’t listen to me you’re bound to make a mistake, do it wrong, because – well, I told you so.  In my eyes and my heart, I’m only telling you so you won’t make a mistake…because I follow the rules and the rules are right. Oh, and of course, I’m ever so guilty of passing judgement.  I’m sure we all are at some point.  But my judgment is based on rules that I follow that quite possibly may not be correct that I’ve imposed on other people that I don’t know and may never know (usually it’s HOPEFULLY I’ll never know).  I’ve found more and more that I feel obligated to at least strive to follow every rule in the Bible, to take everything literally.

That’s not a Christian.  That’s not a follower of the Lord.  I have failed in my Christian walk to relax and acknowledge that I am saved (more on why I haven’t done this in a later post).  However, nothing can snatch me from the hand of God.( John 10:27-29)  No snatching going on here. I can follow rules that I set for myself, but I cannot expect others to follow them as well.  I have to accept that everyone has different expectations of themselves.  I have to accept that people are going to act wrongly often.  I don’t have to approve of their behavior, but I don’t have to react to their bad behavior badly either.  Judging and imposing rules on them is not a good reaction.  Being offended by the breaking of my rules is not a good reaction. Being a Pharisee is not good.  It’s not the way to win people over.  I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons I haven’t won my husband over, or anyone else for that matter.  So, revelation #1, check.  It may seem simple to you…something I should know.  Something I should be able to practice and control.  But it hasn’t been.  I’m tired of being a rule following legalist.  I’m ready to move on.

For the next week or so, I’ll be trying to figure out the truth behind my belief in the Lord.  Why do I believe in Him? Why do I believe that He died on the cross for my sins?  What do I have to tell the lost if I’m ever asked these questions?  How can I represent Christ well if I don’t know why I believe in Him?

War and Roses

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2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:2-3

It’s kind of funny how conflicts change.  For weeks now Bloke and I have discussed, fought, argued, yelled, and generally ignored every bit of marital training we possessed.  I mean it’s been one atomic bomb away from WWIII in our house. I mean you’ve heard the phrase “you could cut the tension with a knife”?  No no no.  How about a chain saw.  I Before we separated we fought over addiction, neglect, video games, parenting, and a number of other things.  Now that Bloke is a Christian, we’ve been arguing over guess what? Religion!  I mean really it didn’t always seem like religion, but it really was.  It all boils down to what each of us believes about certain aspects of Christianity and how we were willing to compromise on the things we disagree about.  I’m personally not that super great at compromise….I was an only child.  So, fun times!

I’ve found that he has a lot of questions that I really just don’t.  He has a lot of views that are contrary to mine.  He has a completely different background than mine…almost the exact opposite in fact. I’ve begun to wonder why I don’t have the questions he has.  Questions like if God is sovereign why do we need to pray?  And where did different denominations get their doctrine from?  The Bible?  Does that mean they’re wrong or we’re wrong? Why if we have godly desires does God not provide them? Or will he provide them later?  Why?  What about the other books that were not included in the Bible?  Are they real truth?  How is God all powerful and all knowing if his mind was changed by Moses?

My husband is a thinker, an intellectual, a need proof kind of guy which eludes me.  The whole point of being a Christian to me is believing without seeing and seeing when you believe. I became super frustrated super quick with his questions and my lack of answers and his decision not to seek outside counsel on many questions.  Why don’t I care about this stuff?  Why do I not have these questions?  Bloke answered for me.  I have (for the most part) blind faith.  My faith is sufficient.  It’s strange, really.  A sign of maturity in our faith is immaturity if you will.  The Lord says we are to have the faith of a child…unfortunately, it may take until we are physically mature to reach that pure, innocent, perfect faith.  If we ever reach it at all.  I look at the other Christians I associate with and at the various stages of spiritual transformation they are in.  Many (most) are way way more spiritually mature than I.  The Lord has been working hard in their lives.  Many of them believe wholeheartedly without a doubt that everything in the Bible is whole and complete and true.  I’m not there.  Bloke is certainly not there.  But I know that there are some answers I just don’t need.  I need that somewhat blind faith.  I need to simply trust in the truth that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and He died on the cross for my sins.  No other answers are going to save me more or less from Hell.  I’m going to Heaven weather I know the answers or not.  They probably wouldn’t make me happy even if I did know them because I’d just have more questions.  I also recognize that Bloke’s questions and his desire to research the answers are all about where he is in his journey of faith and that he, like all of us, is maturing.

In the Bible, Job 11:7 says, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” I can’t.  So, Bloke, I call a truce to our spiritual differences.  I call peace in our home.  I’m not going to argue or fight about this.  I’m tired of WWIII.  And I’m sorry for being so stubborn and uncompromising and for fighting God’s very special and unique refining of you.   While I’m not at perfect peace in my faith, I do not need to ceaselessly strive for answers I may never get.  I’ll learn all I need to know when I get to Heaven and so will you.  You, however, feel free to look for answers.  I do so hope you find them.  And when we get to Heaven, we can compare notes 😉

ps.  We recently had an anniversary, and Bloke and I were simply happy that we were still married…oh, yeah, and actually living together.  That’s an act of God all by itself.  Here are some pictures of the beautiful flowers Bloke gave me!

Anniversary Roses

Anniversary Roses 3

Anniversary Roses 2