I Got Some Questions…
I’m moving to a realization that I only believe in concepts and my belief lacks much in terms of personal experience. Words which I use in an effort to encourage, challenge, and inspire are mostly embedded in a belief in certain truths….yet, if you ask me for transforming experiences that have brought me tangible evidence, I’m going to have to really consider how I’ll respond. I could most definitely make mention of that thing that happened in 1991…because I cry every time I share it with someone… and another thing that happened in September of 1993, because it was just too crazy to be anything but…..okay……then what? So I’m hanging my hat on things that took place 25 & 23 years ago? Is that the extent of what I have to offer as evidence for what I believe?
We’re a nation so very divided, and this election season has exposed this in ugly ways. Yet, I wonder if at the core, we all really have more similarities than differences…perhaps at that core, we share similar questions…
- Am I alone?
- What is the point to my existence?
- What is beyond the doorway of death?
- Is there a supreme being out there?
- Am I significant?
- Does anybody really know what time it is…does anybody really care? (Okay, that’s from Chicago)
Your way of answering a question and my way of answering the same question may have led us off on journeys in very different directions….and as we stand miles apart in our positions…have we really found the answer…or are we so busy defending our directional choices that we’ve never really had to settle on whether we actually buy the answers we so passionately defend?
I’ll quickly add here that you can relax, I’m not trying to get you to open the door so I can walk in with my vacuum and give you a free demonstration. I’ve got questions here…not answers. I’m simply trying to sip my cup of hazelnut coffee across the table from you…see, this is a cup of coffee, not a vacuum…and I want to share what is going on in my own heart.
Okay, warning….Christian moment coming here, but just to create more questions. I’ve loved the words of the Apostle Paul, who once wrote to his friends, “my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power…” Okay done with bible time for a moment.
Think about what Paul said though… Isn’t the opposite of Paul’s words exactly what so many of us have experienced in our lives? No real power that brings us to shock, awe, amazement, etc… just words…and so many of them… So much preaching about this being the way, or that being the way…the way to what?
To any Christian friends reading this, don’t worry, I love the Lord…but I got questions about what “I’m” representing to my friends who haven’t quite bought in to how I see things. I could begin naming these friends right now…I see their faces so clearly as I write this. Honestly, not trying to be snarky here, although I come by it quite naturally… but I care more about what they see and think because they see the “true” me, not the “Church-me”. Some of you know what I’m talking about…we clean up our language in a church gathering…we start using religious jargon in our sentences… No? You don’t know what I mean? Hmmm…I guess I’m just the biggest poser on the planet then…
Exactly where is the power Paul refers to that speaks so much louder than words? Is it in LOVE? Well, I’ve failed because a person has to get past the thorns before they see much of that in my life. Honest moment here…I get how important LOVE is, because without it, we are like a clanging gong…but answer me this, how does my showing love to a person in some real desperate circumstances really impact them?
I’m not buying any bullshit touchy-feely answers here… If I’m a guy passed out on the side of the highway in Whiteclay, Nebraska…drunk, in despair, hopeless, in poverty, suicide running rampant in my family…..I’m going to need more than just your act of love on your short-term mission trip that makes you feel all good inside.
If I’m that guy I just described above, I need something life-changing to take place because my life is destroyed and tomorrow may not come for me. If there is a god…and he is who you say he is…then I need him to show up in a way that blows the doors off in my life! Otherwise, all you’ve really done is given me some comfort for the moment. You may feed me breakfast, and I really appreciate it, but I’m sorry…I’m really, really sorry, but I’m going to be hungry again at dinner…
I can only give examples based on personal experiences, so here’s one: In my blog (hoosierdaddy101.wordpress.com), I wrote a story in September 2014 of a 10 year old girl I met on our trip to Moldova. I titled it “She Has A Name”. She was known as simply “the village girl” because her mother gave her out to the men of the village for money to use for their pleasure. At 10 years old, to say this girl needed LOVE is a gross understatement….she needed so much more than love to show up though. She needed so much more than wise and persuasive words to be spoken…she needed a POWER not familiar to this world to heal the unspeakable…indescribable trauma she had endured.
Therapy!!! Please……give me a break, this girl needed a POWER not of this world, to show up and radically rearrange her life and restore beauty, wholeness…to put together the shattered pieces of her life.
Here’s one more: While visiting with friends in Whiteclay, NE, we were driving into the town of Pine Ridge for dinner one evening. As we passed through the north end of town about to hit the South Dakota state line, we saw a wheelchair tipped over in a gravel parking lot in front of a liquor store.
There was a heavy-set native man lying on the ground next to the wheelchair. Our friends turned the car around and we went back to assist the man. As I got out of the car, my mind raced to take in all that I was seeing…this man was a double amputee, and in his intoxicated state of mind, he just laid there in the gravel in the middle of the parking lot. How would this very large man be able to lift himself back up into his chair? What would it matter if he could? He can die on the ground or he can die in his chair… It sounds so heartless…but after I leave, when I return to the comfort of my middle-class home in a nice small town on the Front Range of Colorado, this man continues to have his body rot out from the insides as diabetes eats away at what still remains… He simply drinks to forget about his reality…a slow journey toward death. Honestly, it would be cruel to try and intervene in his alcoholism…so he can completely be aware of the reality of his hopelessness?
LOVE moved us to help him back up into the wheelchair…that’s it? That’s all we can do for this man? With all that has happened in his life, with all that has been stolen, killed and destroyed…this was the best I had to offer?
Solemn voice now…”Well, I’ll pray for him…”
No! I can’t live with this answer! I cannot accept that this is the faith that was built upon the mission of Christ in returning to earth to redeem us! Personally…I think what I’ve experienced has somehow taken a very subtle veering off the path over the generations and where I’ve ended up because this religion called Christianity has been traveling 1 or 5 or 10 degrees off course, has led me to a place where the “normal” Christian experience has become nothing more than wise and persuasive words because there is no POWER that shows up…
I’m sorry if I’ve offended someone because it’s not my intent…I’ve simply got questions about the directional choices I’ve made and as I stand here looking around at where my personal journey has led me, I’m a little ticked off. I’m not mad at God because I believe (in concept) that the God of the bible does exist. I’m ticked off that my life to this point, has been filled with wise and persuasive words (okay, so maybe not so wise), but it does lack the evidence of the power of the Spirit…the transforming POWER of the Spirit…
I get mad when I have to tell myself the same things I tell my probation clients when they struggle with relapse and other destructive patterns in their own lives…but there is no getting around this fact:
“Something’s GOT to change if something’s “GONNA change.”
Oh my….times gotten away from me. I really do need to get out of bed and get my Saturday started. However, I woke up and these thoughts just came rushing at me. I had to sit up, grab my iPad, and start this conversation.