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Archive for June, 2010

I’ve felt and (I’m sorry to admit that I’ve also acted) much like a three-year-old for the past few weeks. By this I mean I’ve been egocentric, overly obsessed with getting my own way, and I have a tendency to whine about everything. On the flip side, I’ve also felt like I’m very small in a too-big world. Like that feeling I had when I was very small and I looked up at the person next to me in the department store and realized it wasn’t my mother and I had no idea where she was.

In other words, I feel simultaneously like the most important being on earth, as well as the most insignificant, lost little girl you can imagine. As some friends of mine like to say, “I may not be much, but I’m all I think about.”

I’ll spare you all the gory details of my misbehavior and just tell you what’s been on my mind. I’ve been struggling with the certainty of my faith. That is, I’m having trouble getting in touch with the supposed absolutes of Heaven and Hell. I’m at odds with eternity. I believe in God, I try to love his people, and I want nothing else to matter. Yet it matters to me that the witness of faith in my life be true, that I not be watering down God’s word when I’m sharing with a non-believer just so someone won’t be upset with something I said.

I’ve come to a few places of comfort in this struggle. One is that salvation is not found in the particular doctrines and dogmas of Christianity as we know it, but that salvation originates in the sacrifice of Jesus. Purely and simply, it is Jesus, and not all the advertisements and threats that we sinful humans have issued in his name, who unlocks the doors to the kingdom of heaven.

Another comfort is the line in the Lord’s prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” To me, that means that we don’t have to wait to receive the gifts of salvation, and that in fact it is our duty as believers in Christ to share his message of peace and hope with all the suffering people on earth. In this way, we prepare the way for the Lord to restore the Earth to its original glory…someday…

Finally, I find comfort in the fact that I don’t have to know the answer to every question, even my own questions. That somehow it is all right for me to say that I know the truth, and that some of my facts about the truth might be screwed up. To borrow the concept of “Humble Absolutism” from Andrew Pessin (link to his article here), I know with absolute certainty that my faith is right and true, and in the same breath I’m willing to admit that I might be wrong about some or all of it.

God is the only one who knows the full answer. A good friend once told me that she had a tremendous vision of God’s glory, and in that awestruck moment she realized that she could only see one thread in an enormous tapestry. It is not ours to know it all, but only to be part of a magnificent whole. And so I’ll leave you with a quote from Oswald Chambers, today’s reading from My Utmost for His Highest:

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer — “O Lord God, You know.” (Ezekiel 37:3) Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12) When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

May God’s grace be present with you, especially when you can’t quite see it.

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