Gimpy Faith Legs

Several posts back I asked What Can I Do For You regarding questions you might have about my journey back to faith. I should not have been surprised at how insightful those questions were. I have answered one and thought I’d take on another.

The following questions come from and are posted with permission of my friend, Sam Seamans in Mountain Home, AR…

I would like to know what the things were that you were sure about prior to 10/11 that are now not so clear. What is it that you now have real doubts about, especially in regards to assurance, including salvation, and many other “standards” that used to be clear that have now faded to gray. How are you dealing with them? How has it changed how you relate to others concerning your Christian faith? Also, do you sometimes wonder what life would look like if you couldn’t “persevere” and lost your way. Do you still fear that? Has your idea of God gotten a little more generous or “wider” perhaps? Have you ever looked up and said, “Are you there?” Tough and deep questions I know, but you asked….;-)

I am not sure where to begin, Sam. It feels like you are trying to get me to write a book. Send $100 to my I-need-some-money fund and we will be good to go…  (You know us ex-preachers, if we can take money from the brethren, we can take money from anyone!) Smile! I am just kidding!

On to the questions…

In some regards, my former theology is all messed up.

We may differ on things both of us can prove with scripture. We can look at the same passage and have widely divergent views regarding the context and meaning.

In the past, I loved nothing more than a great cup of coffee and a good scholarly discussion. But some of the things I used to think important have paled in comparison to the “weightier matters.” And it scares me because I am sure it will cause others to relate to me differently and I to them. Just this week, a friend relayed how sad some local folks are because in their words, I have “lost my way.”

There is some arrogance in that thought, but no more than the arrogance I used to wield  like a sword. I can remember talking to some who had been Christians most of their lives. As life drew to an end, they wondered and worried about their salvation. Often it was more about what they did or didn’t do and less about a radical trust in God.

In my arrogance, I can clearly remember thinking how sad it was to live as a Christian and have no hope at the end.

God help me, but I can now relate. My life is so different especially where faith has shifted, warped,and changed. I don’t have the time or inclination for debates, discussions, and judgments. You can judge me now for being in a different place if you like, but I suspect you wouldn’t want to join me on the wrestling mat with God.

Here’s my truth. Assurance of salvation? I am often terrified that there isn’t enough grace in the universe to help my gimpy legs of faith limp across the finish line. But at the same time, I have hope for a God big enough to take me home–in spite of my failures, my changed thinking, and inability to see things as I once saw them.

Here’s an even bigger truth. While I wouldn’t wish my tragedy and heartache on any one, I do wish those whose lives have been far more idyllic could be more patient, compassionate, and understanding with those whose faith may very well involve a life-long struggle.

In the back and forth of questioning and strife, faith is refined and limps are accepted.

I haven’t lost my way, it’s just really hard to run…

How is your limp?

Les, Jr.

 

18 thoughts on “Gimpy Faith Legs

  1. No truer words touched me tonight than this, “Here’s an even bigger truth. While I wouldn’t wish my tragedy and heartache on any one, I do wish those whose lives have been far more idyllic could be more patient, compassionate, and understanding with those whose faith may very well involve a life-long struggle.
    In the back and forth of questioning and strife, faith is refined and limps are accepted.
    I haven’t lost my way, it’s just really hard to run…
    How is your limp?”

    What struck me was that sometimes when we run full steam ahead, we miss a lot along the way. It’s hard to have long-living compassion for someone in a tough spot when we are running… you stop for a minute to help them along and then full speed ahead again.

    It seems to me, and I may be wrong, but it seems that you had some around you at the onset who were great pillars to lean up b/c they took the time to stop… but then after a short time they were back at their run and expected you to be as well.

    When we limp along, and stop pretending to run… we show our “weaknesses” and therefore we can sidle up alongside our brother and together we shoulder the burden and limp along together… through this time we learn more, and to be honest, I think correspond with God more than when we are running… at least in an honest way.

    Amen, my brother… Well, said. This struck me in a lot of ways…. Thanks again… this was very much needed!

  2. Some years ago, I “lost my way”. Funny how trials can clear your mind of everything that you thought you knew to be true and allow you to re-evaluate things almost as if considering them for the first time.

    One day I read a passage from the Bible that I had read dozens of times before: Matthew 22:35-40. I’m sure you probably know it by heart. In the past, I guess I had always primarily focused on verses 37-39, but this time I was really drawn to verse 40. I guess that’s when I finally realized that it wasn’t that loving God and loving my neighbor were the two most important things out of a list of many things…they were the ONLY things. At that moment, I realized:

    (1) If I can perfectly execute verses 37-39, then nothing else really matters, because it’s not possible to screw up in any area of life while simultaneously being true to these verses.

    (2) There is no way that I can ever perfectly execute verses 37-39. In fact, I can never really even get close.

    (3) God knows I can never get close to having perfect love for Him, much less for my neighbors. Therefore, to make up the difference, God gave me perfect LOVE: JESUS

    (4) God is my daddy. Like a parent, He doesn’t quit loving me just because I am imperfect. Even when I mess up, He continues to love me. His love for me doesn’t fade in and out depending on whether I am being a ‘Good Christian’ or a very imperfect one.

    (5) I am God’s son. Like a child, it isn’t in my nature to take advantage of my parent just because their love is unconditional. On the contrary, my knowledge of how much I am loved, makes me want to be the best child I can be…all while also knowing that I’ll continue to be imperfect. I know I’ll never quite get it right, but that won’t keep me from trying to get it a little bit more right today than I did yesterday – even so, sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back or two steps forward and one step back, or whatever.

    I know none of this is real revelation…it’s pretty basic, actually…when I came to the above realizations, it was less about coming to know something that I didn’t know before, and it was more about it going from a head thing to a heart thing.

    So, I lost my way, but I lost it to a new way. Thank God I did!

    Oh, and I limp plenty…thank you very much.

  3. Great read Les! Love the way you are processing and your thinking is changing. My changed thinking always reminds me that life is a growing process. To experience great pain and come away unchanged is a sad commentary on the power of a closed mind.

    Have a great weekend! Getting ready to snow again here in KC. 🙁

    Blessings, Bob

  4. I don’t think you have lost your way by any means. I think that through all the horrendous , traumatic, events of your life, you are emerging from the depths of despair to regain your faith in God . Keep on writing!

  5. One other thing. I shudder in horror as I reflect on my younger days as a Christian who knew everything. My theology was settled. If you were not [insert denomination here], then your salvation was suspect. I judged many that were different that me to be outside of the saving embrace of Jesus Christ because they had not “experienced” a conversion moment that had the elements that I thought were necessary, elements that don’t even appear in Scripture itself. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I had similar struggles with faith that you have had, NOT because terrible things like you experienced happened to me, but because they happen to people like YOU! I just could not square my “settled theology” with a world where innocent children are murdered, women raped, and people are born severely disabled. Being a cop didn’t help as I saw one tragedy after another that devasted everything I thought that God could and would prevent. So I, like you, limp along, but I limp with a certain hope that the God who created me and all the people that horrible things happen to will one day see through a glass clearly, and not dimly as now. “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.” THIS is my “life verse”, and about that I will not apologize…..neither should you…..

  6. I found through my own tragedy that I had such a fear of being abandoned by God that I didn’t want to express my anger or question His will. In the ten months past I have come to the realization, mostly through dealing with my own hard headed 17 year old, that God will love me know matter what. That I’m his child and I can be pissed off, I can doubt him, and I can question him. He won’t leave me. If I thought he would I couldn’t go on.

      • Not sure that I understand Les. How can one be unhappy with someone unless they believe that the person had something to do with their situation in a causal or permitting sense?

        • Bob, please forgive my feeble mind–I am not sure what you are referencing. But I would love to answer your question and clear it up–or make it muddier as the case may be. Chances are, I amy not even agree with myself since I wrote whatever you are questioning. Thank you for hanging with me on this blogging journey. You have no idea how much I appreciate it!

          • No problem Les. My question was about this part of your response to Amy:

            “God knows I am not happy with Him”

            My question is how can one be unhappy with God unless they believe that He had something to do with their situation in a causal or permitting sense?

          • Ah. Would it bother you if I postponed answering your question until the next post appears? I don’t want to write it here when I am going to post it there! 🙂 And, you have hiot the nail on the head. That is my struggle… At least if I understand what you mean by permitting.

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