My friend Dory recently wrote:
This year has been transitional for me, and I hope I’m not nearly done yet. I have deliberately stepped back from everything I thought I knew about traditional Christianity, racial divide, politics, racial bias, the meaning of freedom, and the response of the church to government oppression. I have asked God to let His light be the only light shining on these issues for me. It’s been eye-opening, and has called for the dismantling of some ideals I’ve held most of my life. It’s confusing. It’s unpleasant. It’s not easy.
Lastly, if shining God’s light in an unbiased way into the deepest parts of your heart scares you, as it did me, it’s probably a good sign that it’s time to do it.
I appreciate Dory’s honest expression of faith and discovery here. And I can’t help but think that, if we were all just a bit more self-aware, and if we would all just shut up instead of scattering our opinions around on social media and elsewhere about what’s happening in the world and acting like we’re experts about it, then maybe this pandemic year could be a year of true revival and transformation in our lives.
Dory’s courage to look in the mirror, to “step back” and recognize that she only “thought she knew” the “truths” she had received, and to go further — to “dismantle ideals she held for most of her life” — well, what can I say? How I wish more of us could grasp that this is the path of faith rather than the way of certainty most of us imagine! Embracing doubt rather than doubling down — imagine that!
In Mere Churchianity, Michael Spencer wrote:
Jesus wanted the life of his disciples to grow out of Kingdom-of-God soil. That Kingdom takes root in the lives of disciples who were changed by the gospel. While signing up to take a discipleship class can give believers a plan for reading the Bible and many helpful ideas on prayer, your relationship with God grows uniquely in the soil that is your journey through life. Jesus meets you at places that are meaningful to you; he speaks to you as an individual, and he grows his influence in you in unique ways. You aren’t defined by anyone else’s map of the Christian life, even if those maps might be helpful in some ways. (p. 158)
Thanks, Dory, for sharing how Jesus met you at places that are meaningful to you.
It reminded me to take a look at my own “map” once again.
25 thoughts on ““Your relationship with God grows uniquely in the soil that is your journey through life””
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Love the photo.
It all makes sense to me.
“Once some brothers came to visit Antony, and Joseph was with them. Antony, wanting to test them, began to speak about holy Scripture. He asked the younger monks first the meaning of text after text, and each of them answered as well as he could. To each he said, ‘You have not yet found the right answer.’ Then he said to Joseph, ‘What do you think is the meaning of this word?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know.’ Antony said, ‘Indeed Joseph alone has found the true way, for he said he did not know.’” -St. Anthony of the Desert
some are able to ‘find God’ in the small, ‘unimportant’ things that most of us take for granted;
others look for Him among the glories of Creation
the former do not need much to be happy in this life and are thankful for little, so comes to them grace
David, I always appreciate your thoughtful and honest comments. I think what you said makes perfect sense. Thanks so much for sharing.
Yep. Another RF winner!
Shouting and noise is rarely beneficial to an individual’s transformation. “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Mule, I don’t think it’s quite on point for today. And I’m afraid it will lead the conversation astray. If you can persuade me otherwise I’ll put it through.
I think the point is to be patient listeners of ourselves to see real transformation.To take a step back and away from always having a quick answer to all questions.
I’m very glad Dory has been able to find this kind of peace and direction. My own life has been so stormy and full of chaos that I’ve only tasted bits of this. It has taken me years to arrive at certain convictions, and I try to hold even those lightly. I had a few years, shortly after retirement, where life seemed to slow down, become quiet, and renew my certainty that God is in control. Then the inevitable toll of aging and sickness paid us a visit. And at the end of it, I felt like a rag coming out of a washing machine, then tumble dry on the hot setting.
And then when hung out, alone in the wind, the regrets start to flow in. If one can age “gracefully” — more power.
I’ve studied theology to an extent. As a former Methodist, I hold most theology as very fallible meanderings. I’ve read a lot of history, some biography, and a good deal of political theory. This has been my “soil.” Living in a democracy I try to take it seriously. This is a good time to be a student of history, but never think it will bring you peace. Sometimes my feelings tell me I’m close to God; other times I feel as though I’m in another universe and wondering about God’s appearance.
Taking the teachings of Jesus seriously — in their simplicity and plainness — has real power. And many times I’ve been sure he’s taken me by the hand and across the stormy sea. But the shore of my destination has not been reached. I can at times see that peaceful City — that City of reconciliation where we will all bow before the King. Then, at least for a moment, I have some peace.
Maybe none of this makes sense.
so if we all ‘shut up’, this would be ‘transformative’?
how can we become patient listeners of others when we have discouraged them from speaking their truth?
beautiful poem, Robert F
and so often true
And I can’t help but think that, if we were all just a bit more self-aware, and if we would all just shut up instead of scattering our opinions around on social media and elsewhere about what’s happening in the world and acting like we’re experts about it, then maybe this pandemic year could be a year of true revival and transformation in our lives.
This is the real keeper
Stages for me in the wilderness. First searching through history. Then, an overwhelming self awareness of ignorance. Now, I have no certainty about anything.
“if shining God’s light in an unbiased way into the deepest parts of your heart scares you, as it did me, it’s probably a good sign that it’s time to do it.”
This quote’s a keeper.
Nailed onto a beam, atop of barren hill
A foul and vile scene, a strange mysterious will
Flesh and blood, an awful grace
Rend the veil, reveal his face
Mary’s son, without a shield
Oh to live the unguarded life. Freedom, the way unfettered is a tumultuous find.
sometimes the inability
is the prayer
As told to Thomas Merton.
“From now on, brother, everybody stands on his own two feet.”
— The reply of a Tibetan abbot in response to a message sent to him by one of his monks who was in a foreign country asking for direction about what to do after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950.
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”
(from ‘The Gate of the Year’, Minnie L. Haskins)
” your relationship with God grows uniquely in the soil that is your journey through life. Jesus meets you at places that are meaningful to you; he speaks to you as an individual, and he grows his influence in you in unique ways. You aren’t defined by anyone else’s map of the Christian life, even if those maps might be helpful in some ways. (p. 158) ”