Having lunch with a close friend after church yesterday I said,
“I don’t know how to be a Christian anymore.”
It sounds both more shocking and less extreme than I mean, but they are the only words I can find to explain myself.
I love Jesus. Even when I’m twisted into some weird, navel gazing obsession over the point of my existence… even when I’m catastrophically overwhelmed by the clash of world news and daily personal hostilities I have this unshakable hope that God exists and that He is good.
At the same time I have totally forgotten the why and the how of so many rituals. When I try to pray anything fancy about healing or spiritual warfare, I can’t get out anything beyond, “Help, God.” or “Please, God.” I say a lot more stuff to Him than that, actually I say all of the things to him, but I no longer understand why we concoct prayers that sound like magical incantations.
Last winter when I got this strong feeling that I needed a sabbatical I also sensed God giving me a heads up that this season (that I’ve just walked through) wouldn’t be any easier than the last season when I was piled under an unmanageable amount of stress. When I say I “walked through” this sabbatical what I really mean is I’ve crawled through, often just laying on my face in the mud pouring out of my heart.
I’m super broken, guys…
I don’t share these dark things because I see myself as a victim, or because I think it’s poetic to be sad. I want to be as transparent as possible so that you know just how real is any light that might shine through.
I find blazing trails of this light when I read about Moses. He was so misplaced in his social justice campaign that he killed a man, but when God finally comes to him 40yrs later, although he’s a bit humbled, he still makes plenty more mistakes. The glory of the friendship between God and Moses is that it is a real friendship, even though one is a holy God and the other is some regular guy with an anger problem.
I’ve often wondered what would have happened if all of Israel had emulated Moses’ radical, ridiculous boldness to come before God despite the burning mountain…. Come to Him out of desperate need and abandon instead of cowering at the base like entitled victims. They shrank away hoping for a less scary God and God just stuck around encouraging them to come anyway.
My only hope is for that ludicrous friendship with God. It’s unfair to the extreme because I really am horribly messy and self centered. The only message I carry worth hearing is that God loves even fools like myself. But thank God for that, right?
I head out of dark sabbatical and into a new year full of such exciting and undeserved possibilities- to be growing simultaneously older and younger, to be carrying such a small, but bright flame, to be real friends with the only God.
The Bible says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” I wake up every morning into this reality, I lay my head down on it at night. Which is why I don’t mind telling you that I don’t really know how to be a Christian anymore. All of the doing has been done and I can only go forward with prayers like, “Thank you, God.” and “I love you.”
And to be quite honest- although I’m super broken, I’m also full of hope.