Sunday, March 27, 2016

Resurrecting Belief.

    This morning I waited. In darkness. In worship. In sermon. I waited. Waited for the sun to resurrect itself from the ground and finds itself in the sky. Close to the galaxies, to the stars and the heavens. The light; ever so significant on a day like today. The light, ever so powerful to the darkness surrounding.
     This morning I waited. In darkness. In worship. In sermon. I waited. Waited for the Son to resurrect Himself from the grounds in my heart and find His way into my soul. Close to the beating of my passions, to the thoughts in mind. The Light to shine into the ever so clouding doubt that has made me foggy. The Light, ever so powerful to the darkness surrounding. Me.
    And lately my doubt could put Thomas to shame. In the past few months I wouldn't have even known if sticking my fingers in the pierced side of Jesus would have brought me back to believing. Because let me be honest, no one ever tells you that when you make the decision to let Jesus wreck your life, the wrecking isn't always something easy or something beautiful. Sometimes it's soul crushing honesty, a peeling back of layers and of darkness to the raw and naked truth of what was, what is, and what is to come. It's the realization that sometimes life is lived in the trenches and I am battle-scared and heavy-hearted. Me. A relentless sinner in desperate need of this Story. In need of His constant grace to cover me in garments of love and peace.
   "It just death and resurrection, over and over again, day after day, as God reaches down into our deepest graves and with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead wrests us from our pride, our apathy, our fear, our prejudice, our anger, our hurt, and our despair. And I don't know which is harder for me to believe: that God reanimated the brain functions of a man three days dead, or that God can bring back to life all the beautiful things we have killed. Both seem pretty unlikely to me." -Rachel Held Evans.
     I would agree that it seems unlikely to me. And i think because lately I've been struggling with my worth, with who I am in Him. Every once in a while something changes in a persons life that brings about a paradigm shift. And this shift has been happening gradually to me over the past year. The fault lines in my heart are moving and there has been bending and breaking. I felt it every so often, in the months of December and January were depression so deep that blankets covered my windows and oil caked my hair and pretending was the best that I could do. As I wrestled with my faith and with Jesus and with life. The darkness was overwhelming and sometimes I would spend the days in bed crying, dissatisfied with who I was. I could feel the shifting in my heart and I felt as if God just decided at that point to push away from me, to let me writhe in self-pity and sadness and doubt. My thoughts were, why would a gracious and loving God let me go through this, why would a gracious and loving God let all that is happening continue.
   The doubt and the thought process in this, I think, comes from hearing people use Jesus and the church as some quick fix or get rich fix scheme to patch up the distraught and destroyed areas or their lives. This idea of a God who opens up parking spaces and takes prayer request for weather and elections and future spouses, while there are children out there dying of hunger and preventable diseases, there are people out there lost abused and in need of something more than a sunny day. But no one wants to wait on God. No one wants patient prayer or long awaited grace and forgiveness.

   "The modern-day church doesn't like to wander or wait. The modern-day church likes results. Convinced the gospel is a product we've got to sell to an increasingly shrinking market, we like our people to function as walking advertisements: happy, put-together, finished-proof that this Jesus stuff WORKS! At its best, such a culture generates pews of Stepford Wife-style robots with painted smiles and programmed moves. At its worst, it creates environments where abuse and corruption get covered up to protect reputations an preserve image. The world is watching, 'Christians like to say, 'so let's be on our best behavior and quickly hide the mess. Let's throw up some before-and-after shots and roll that flashy footage of our miracle product blanching out every sign of dirt, hiding every sign of disease" -Rachel Held Evans,
   But I am not an advertisement and if this past year has taught me anything is that a quick fix God is just some idol that people, even good intentioned people, have created to bring people into buildings instead of bringing them into the arms of Jesus; where yes, there is pain, and change, and excruciating realness of who we are and who He is.
   "And if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And the truth is, the church doesn't offer a cure. It doesn't offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace." -Rachel Held Evans.
    And in the end that is really what we all need. In the end that is really what I need. As I sit in waiting to resurrect myself from the darkness that so easily entangles me, I reach my hand from the grave and the Resurrection, the Life Himself grabs a hold my hand pulls me from its depths and says unto me. "Daughter, I will never leave nor forsake you." He holds me close. While I lie in bed crying. While I question Him and my life and the future. Looking back, hindsight is, of course, 20/20 and it's easier to write this after going through then in the midst of it all. But I think, especially in this season of resurrection that I need to be honest, that life with Jesus, is beautiful, but it is also painful, it is welcoming change, change that is most often not what you expect or want. That sometimes it is walking through the trenches of a battle that sometimes feels like I am on the losing side. And Each day brings with it new battles to stumble through, but it is in the belief and knowledge of Jesus' resurrection, that even though I may lose some battles, He has ultimately won the war over my life, over my soul and the lives and souls of so many others. That we find faith as we follow Jesus, but we have to have a willingness to wrestle with God. To wrestle with questioning and doubt.

    I sit here now thinking "How can I not believe when I look at the facts?" Look at the history, the text, the dead sea scrolls, the testimonies, the death of those who follow Him. Sometimes I wish I could draw out a map on how to navigate this journey of faith, but the truth is there is no right or wrong way to go, there is only Jesus. There is no one way to walk, there is no straight line to follow, there are twist and turns, mountains and valleys and the only constant, unchanging thing is Jesus. And I'm not going to lie and say I'm sitting here sipping my tea with absolutely no questions. No, I'm constantly questioning, constantly hungering, constantly growing, searching for truth, searching for justice, searching for Jesus. But I continue to step towards it all in faith, because no step taken in faith is wasted. Not by a God made man, who was betrayed for 30 silver coins, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition. who carried a cross through dirt and grime, up hill. Not by a God made man, who was pierced through the wrists and the feet with seven inch nails. Who wore a crown of thorns, mocked and spit on. Who hung for six hours, bled out and died. Who said it is finished with the weight of the worlds sins on His shoulder. Not by a God made man who dead and wrapped in linens laid in a tomb for three days. who went to hell and back, defeated death, resurrected to life, and ascending to heaven. No step of faith is wasted by a God who in the end makes everything beautiful.
   We are all at different stops in our lives. "But the gospel doesn't need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, "Welcome! There's bread and wine, Come eat with us and talk." This isn't a kingdom for the worthy; it;s a kingdom for the hungry." -Rachel Held Evans.
And there is no one person who has it all figured out and there is no one church who has is all together. There is no one person or place that can give us what Jesus can.
   I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm in the middle of a messy life. That only with Jesus can I resurrect my belief from the ground, from the weeds that entangle it and try to pull it back down into the dark. And that all the most beautiful things are pulled from the ground. All the most beautiful things are made in a fire. All the most beautiful things are hit again and again. All the most beautiful things are shaped with His hands. Nothing about you, nothing about me, nothing about us is unworthy, is unredeemable, is ugly. We are made of the most beautiful things.
    Even in the questioning and the doubt He is near. Even in the moments where we believe that all faith is lost, that there is nothing left. He is not lost. We no longer need to stand at the empty tomb, crying wondering where He is. For He is not there. He is Risen. Resurrected, Living, Breathing God, who conquered death so that we could live. Who walks beside us, pulls us from the grave and covers us in grace.
    "Like every generation before and every generation after, we're looking for Jesus- the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places He's always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these."And even in our searching, even in our belief, there will be doubt, there will be questions, but that doesn't mean we are any less of a believer, any less of His follower. It means that we are stepping in faith, taking the journey towards those strange places where He can be found and where eventually, in eternity we will meet face to face.
   Holy Holy Holy to the One who is Risen indeed.

  Resurrecting my Belief,

 HIS and yours