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pursuing the upward call with fear and trembling

just a 44 year old man seeking to share my meanderings with the world at large or the blogosphere at small

Saturday, October 02, 2010


My friend mariam left a comment a lil bit ago which was really good. She quoted one of my favorite books by M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled. His opening line is that life is difficult. I wonder if that truly is one of the most profound as well as most simplistic statements all at once ever made??? How long does it take us to realize life is difficult?? I think babies may even sense it but dont have the ability as yet to express it.

BioLogos Forum is a very cool website seeking to unite faith and science. They derive from the same Source after all- God. They do have quite a bit of controversy though. They declare God used evolution in creation. They declare Adam and Eve were not literal,actual people but metaphorical representatives of our actions as humans to assert our will over Gods. They declare a large part of the stories in Genesis are not meant to be taken literal and this is Gods intention as well. They do this as believers who accept and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and who do hold to the Bible as Gods Word- just not in a fundamentalist way.

Trusting and obeying God in humility and love. That is the ideal isn't it?? yet, all of us, even the most devout of saints, struggle with ourselves and living this out do we not??? 1 John tells us if we confess our sins we will be forgiven and cleansed. He is talking to believers. So, we have to commit sins in order to be forgiven right??? The nazarenes have a doctrine called the exchanged life where they believe one can actually achieve moral perfection in this life. What were they smoking??? LOL I cannot concieve of anyone doing that, other than Jesus.

So many questions and wonderings which have arisen from things i have read poring through the blogosphere. Scores of people have testified God was silent and unresponsive in a way they wanted Him to be when they were going through times of great distress and pain. Why??? Scripture tells us to cast all our anxieties and troubles upon Him because He cares for us. His peace that passeth understanding is promised if we pray with thanksgiving and supplication. Where is it??? Where is His perfect love??? He doesnt want us to pretend does He?? If we really are struggling and doubting He wants our honest reaction doesnt He???

i ask these things like the Psalmist, sending them out to God. Like mariam shared in her message, God may very well appear and respond the most when we are most desperate and helpless in ourselves. I know i have experienced this before, more than once. It just seems the cloud that covers over head blots those realities out in a large way when i am in the midst of it, and i wonder why I can't just have a magical pain reliever that will just releive all the angst and hurt and questioning and let me relax and sing kumbayah. Its good to be able to lament.


At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Mariam said...

As various counsellors and psychiatrists have told my daughter (and me) "feelings are not facts". I would go one further and say "feelings are not faith". Faith is the choice to believe in spite of no evidence, no feelings, no fireworks, no voice whispering comforting things, no miracles, no easy answers - only questions. Faith doesn't mean forcing yourself to believe in dumb things or being afraid you will go to hell if you don't believe in it. What would be the point of that? That would be like burying God's greatest gift in the dirt. Faith is acknowledging the possilbities of hope. Faith is not fearing the worst but believing the best of all things is possible. The logic of faith is that it requires none of these things so we never have to give it up unless we choose to. Once we have truly have faith we longer have anything to fear because nothing else matters. We just follow the path in front of us that Christ has shown us. Is this world full of sadness, pain, anger, unfairness and unspeakable suffering? Yes, but none of that will last. Do we keep falling off the path and getting lost? Yes, but we pick ourselves up and keep going, confident that God has a plan and that it will all work out in the end, that the crooked shall be made straight, that suffering will end and that we will understand when we see face to face.

And suppose it doesn't? What if our hope is in vain because there is no God, no final justice, no rest except the grave. What have we lost.by believing? We have lost nothing. That is why I choose faith. There is no downside.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Mariam- you make the case for faith very clearly. I agree with all you said, i struggle with with my feelings don't match what I believe or at times hope and have faith to believe.I resonate alot with your daughter in what you have told me about her over time. I don't want to bury Gods most precious gift in the dirt like you said,but for some reason i have part of me that doesnt know how to just let fear go and let go of *what ifs*. Is this a human thing we all face daily or no?? When you say you choose faith, do you mean you still have thoughts & feelings that fight against that choice??

At 2:19 AM, Anonymous Mariam said...

I guess Robert that I am coming to my faith from a different place. I was an atheist or agnostic for most of my life. My conversion to Christianity is fairly recent so I don't have all that baggage of worrying that I have to believe in a certain way. When I say I choose faith what I mean is that ultimately, there is no proof of the existence of God. I cannot prove to anyone who doesn't believe, that God exists. I can't even prove it to myself. However nobody can prove to me that God does not exist. There are advantages to believing and advantages to not believing but, to me, the advantages of believing are much greater. So even though I haven't heard anything I could categorically describe as God's voice and even though I think there is a logical explanation for most "miracles" and even though I can see the damage religion can do when people use it to not think or as a tool to judge and oppress others I choose to believe in God and a higher purpose. And even though I don't believe the Bible is inerrant, even though it is contradictory in places and full of stories that are more myth and legend than historical fact, and even though it shows the biases and ignorance of the time that it was written and the biases of its authors it is still my "sacred" book, and it is the place I go most often to find out about God and His relationship with us. I choose to make it my "holy" book above all other sacred writings, believing that those who wrote it were holy men, and were in a close relationship with God. Of course when you are coming from a place of no faith, there is nothing no fear in faith. God is not scary, but good and merciful and just and loving. Why would I choose to believe in a God who wasn't?

You are coming from a different place. You were taught to believe in a scary God. You didn't choose your faith in one sense. Instead you are trapped in beliefs which cause you to be fearful. In some ways I find it a little hard to understand because I was a heathen growing up. So I keep thinking "why is he so afraid of God? Why doesn't he just choose to believe in a loving and merciful God? What on earth is the point of believing in such a terrible deity?" I suppose it would be for me like being told that I could fly, when I have been told and believed all my life that if jumped off a cliff I would surely die. It would be wonderful to believe I could fly, I might play around with the idea but i would be too scared to ever jump. You probably find my beliefs odd. To you it is like "What does she mean she chooses her faith and her beliefs? God is God, the one described in the Bible, the one I have been taught to believe in as, at least partly, a very scary and angry Guy. She doesn't get to decide what God is like. And it is dangerous to view God as being all- loving, when the one described in the Bible is clearly angry and punishing a great of the time. We have to stay on our toes and stay out of trouble and not even let our thoughts stray into imagining that there might not be an eternal hell, because. God can read our minds and He will be wrathful if we are thinking about him in the wrong way and not sufficiently fearful and He will get us for that. In fact He might get us anyway, because He is God and can do whatever He chooses and He may just have decided in his grand plan that we have been foreordained for eternal punishment. In fact, the fact that I have doubts and keep sinning is probably evidence that I'm doomed.". So does that pretty much sum it up?

And the question I have for you is, is it working for you? Does your faith enoble you, give you courage and strength, help you be more loving and joyful and compassionate? Because if it does, then that's great. But if it doesn't then I think you've got the wrong end of the stick.


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