June 2007

As I have eluded to in earlier posts, for most of my life, I have viewed understanding as the hallmark of having “arrived” in terms of my faith. I thought that once I understood everything and had every piece of theology figured out I would have officially reached the point where I would feel comfortable leading others in matters of faith.

I have spent the last two years of my life living in a very unique community of faith and believers. For those of you have been through a similar experience to the one that I have undergone, you understand that living in community often has adverse effects on your perceived theology. You begin to see that there are other perspectives on the issues out there, and suddenly you begin to question why it is that you believe what you do.

I believe whole-heartedly in this process. I think that there is little that is healthier, spiritually speaking. Once the build-up of years of processed theology (for me, the bulk of this unfortunately came from my year of seminary) that has been fed to you disappears, you come to see that a lot of what you believe is actually not biblical. All you are left with then, is the Bible. Nothing more, nothing less.

“But,” you might retort, “the Bible is full of discrepancies and inconsistencies.” At first glance, it may appear that way. But I assure you that it is most definitely not the case.

“How do you explain things like the presence of suffering and evil in this world supposedly controlled by God?” The answer to this question (and all of the other seemingly unexplainable questions) is simple: I don’t explain it. It just is. And it is God’s prerogative.

The most oft-quoted chapter in the Bible in regards to the issue of faith is Hebrews 11. This chapter outlines the so-called “Giants of the Faith.” What becomes clear in a survey of this chapter, though, is not a cookie-cutter, Sunday-school kind of faith that is the result of everything going right in the world. Instead, a gritty faith emerges in the face of uncertainty. This is the kind of faith that I want to have.

A faith that needn’t have it all for certain. A faith that believes deep down inside the truth that, as Hebrews 11:3 states, “…the universe was formed at God’s command…”

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God is teaching me more and more that the lesson is often not found in the answer to the dilemma, but rather, in the process of figuring it all out.

I often thought that I had everything figured out. I thought that I had it all together. I think, that I did not want to let on that I did not have all of the answers. I’m afraid that many of us live our whole lives being afraid to admit that we do not have it all figured out.

I am learning, though, that not having it all figured out is not a symptom of a greater problem. (I used to think that if I admitted this it meant something terrible like my salvation was in jeopardy.) I still have no clue about things like predestination and exactly what happens when you die. I do not understand completely deep theological issues such as what the end of the world is going to look like.

But I know that God is walking me through a process to refine me. I know that me admitting that I don’t have all of this figured out is all part of that refining process. I know that He has my best in mind, even when he walks me through hard things.

Look at the Israelites: God knew that He could take them a different way out of Egypt, which may have been quicker and easier, but He knew that taking them the hard way would teach them things that the easy way would not have taught them. But the ultimate source of contention for the Israelites was a lack of perspective. They did not know that if they went the easy way, they would surely run into trouble and lose their resolve. So he took them through a process in order to bring them to place that was best for them.

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