Friday, November 21

God of Sundays

Where does your faith come alive? When does it behave like a living thing ~ a thoughtful, purposeful, active part of your life?

Is it in the quiet of nature or in a charismatic religious meeting? Summer camp, maybe, by the camp fire? Do you feel more faithful when you're dutifully meeting prayer time or reading list requirements?

Maybe Sunday morning church services are your connection point with God. Maybe you feel most in tune with God when you've held an infant in your arms or achieved a personal goal.

A friend once pressed me on my relationship with God: I just don't get you. You don't go to church. You don't attend any meetings or read any Christian books, but you obviously love God. Her tone communicates, loud and clear, that I shouldn't be feeling flattered by these observations. She's puzzled, even confused. I think to myself that she's looking for the smoke and mirrors that I must be raising to throw people off the track of my obvious rebellion.

She continued, I don't understand how you can be faithful to God when you don't go to church. I don't understand how you maintain any sort of relationship with Him without something to keep you on track.

Her soft British accent was charming even in it's rebuke. I pressed her with some careful questions, wondering if the conversation might have been more about her own struggle with faith than it was about my apparent waywardness. I asked about her own relationship with Sunday mornings and how they impacted her understanding of Jesus.

The dam of frustrated emotion quickly burst. She was wrestling with the loneliness and confusion she felt in services. She was angered by so much of what was happening there. She'd taken a part time job that required that she work on Sunday's and, relieved for the respite, had missed many meetings. But, she said, without church she was without God. She didn't think about Him at all. She never prayed. She didn't even think about picking up a Bible. Actively serving Him or worshipping Him didn't ever enter her thoughts.

I understood, thanks to her moving frankness, that loving Jesus isn't something to take lightly or for granted. Thanks to her gentle criticism I understood that one of the reasons we have experienced so much resentment for our choice to stay home Sunday's is because people apply their own experience to ours, assuming that because they wouldn't give Him a though without a structured reminder, that we probably won't either.

One of the breathtaking truths about our God, though, is that He is wildly diverse! Think of it: the God who created toads and croc's (the critters, not the "shoes") also thought-up waterfalls and cumulus clouds. He made blond hair and red, both. He said that some of us should be so white that the blue of our veins would show through (*sigh*) while some of us should be the color of warm chocolate.

God purposed that some of us would think in complicated, multi-layered, brain-straining ways while others would have the gracious gift of simplification. To some He said, "Sing!" and to others, "Exemplify Me in your silence."

Some of us will wrestle with faith, grasping and striving and demanding and falling. Some of us will look at Jesus and know, know, know that He is our Love. Our deepest, fondest, most breathtaking Love. Some will see Him in the face of a mountain, some in the stroke of a brush on canvass. Some will hear Him with clear, cool, like-I-heard-it-with-my-own-ears clarity, some will never know for sure that they've heard Him at all.

My friend felt that her own struggle ought to mirror mine (or the other way 'round). But her choice-experience path is simply different from mine. For a time, my family and I have not employed a pastor and a series of well-rehearsed songs to bring us face to face with the Maker. We're looking for Him everywhere, every day. We look for Him when things are bumpy and awkward and painful. We see Him easily when things are even and sure and healing.

No more. No less. We're not feeling right (or wrong). We've just made a choice. A choice that's different than some of our other God seeking friends. We do not begrudge them church service encounters with Christ, nor would we ask them to walk the uncharted trail that we're bush-whacking our way along. We love, too. Just differently.

And that's why I was wondering where you come alive ~ where your faith lives. Is there room in your understanding to allow for the striking differences in God's creation and in His created? Is there room to gently agree that while you may not be fully comfortable with the way of another, it may be, no less, the way of God?


Linda said...

Can't read right now, because of all the excess noise in the room. I'm excited to have something to look at later.

Don Buschert said...

Great writing Sandra!

For us we've had a disconnect w the evangelical church for years. what we see served up for christianty in many churches is often a self-seeking dogma that tries to build a better you. a lot of professional development worked in at the expense of true spirituality. even in the southern u.s. there is very little power or punch; lots of platitudes. the goal of christianity is to kill you in order that God can fill you w his DNA; thus you are truly transformed into his likeness. This of course is dependant on your choice and faith level for you need to belive it in order to work. few evangelicals understand this and for the most part Fay and I feel like we're on the outside looking in. We seek other belivers with the same passion and desire...they're out there; like diamonds in the army slowly being formed; the five wise virgins who bought extra oil to make it through the night. we make the effort to go to church every sunday; because we're commanded to forsake not the assembly and our kids see this and will obey this too when they come of age. we work with what's available; different people with different faith levels. we try not to be too critical; but at the same time we're running a race and many are distracted and giving up. we encourage. we avoid contact w those who say the're belivers but practice otherwise; as commanded. what keeps us motivated is the premise that those who endure to the end will be saved, so there's an accounting someday that all of us belivers have to answer for. faith+works i cannot go back to the comfortable churchy life i grew up with; i've seen and felt too much of His power and love and can only go forward...yielding my ambitions and desires and allowing His to flow in. we have peace in our home when our neighbors are stressed out w the cares of life. we drive out sicknesses in our family because WE CAN; and practice enough that miracles are a part of our lifestyle. the world pretty much ignores us; indifferent at best - but we don't take it personal. our home is not here in GA or AB or even israel but in another realm; and we're learning the ropes of this unseen realm while we're still on this fast eroding space-time natural dimension. never a dull moment!

Don Buschert
Canton, GA

Linda said...

WOW finally I sit down to read your interesting and challenging thoughts, and what a great day that has awaited me to do so, as my hubby and I just had this conversation over lunch!! I was meant to be today! I love everything you say, and Don as well. If I had to rely on church to make me feel alive and relating to HIM, I would have quit long ago! It is in the quietness of looking out at the flowers and mountains with a cup of tea in hand when I can think of how I love Him. A walk with a friend talking about Him, or seeing the sunset He painted. I get tired of feeling like I have DO something to be part of "the club" and want to just seek out others who want to just know Him and love Him. And it's easy to get lazy too, and that's why church does sometimes spur me on, keep my focus and push me towards wanting to deepen my walk with Him.

And I am happy when anyone is pursuing Him in their own way. It makes me sad that the church has failed you and so many, and we need to create a new example of it, but i hope that people aren't relying on me to show the way, because too many times I'm not a very good example either.

This society needs some rest!