Here I come, ready or not…

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Here I come, ready or not…

There are so many things I want to write about on this blog that I keep getting stuck. It’s like when I empty the horse trough (one of these days I’ll write about Vos and Lizzie) and the water is all manky with bits of hay and blown in dirt and those tiny moths that are just everywhere at this time of year, and you have to keep pulling the muck out of the plughole to keep the water draining, and every time I toss it aside I think, “That really should go on the compost heap.” (I’ve already written some about my garden, but haven’t had the heart to report on what a disaster it’s become. But my point, in this context, is that even muck has value.) And then one of the dogs will do something whacky (when people ask how many I have I say “Three”. If pressed, I admit that Himself also has three. And yes, I know, having six dogs is just weird. But they’re all rescues … and that’s another thing I want to write about: my years in dog rescue, and the funny / crazy / heartbreaking things that happened, and how it feels, now that I’m retired, to watch someone else running the organization I built.)

But the matter I cannot escape is God. I have gone back and forth over whether to share this here, or keep it to private conversations with trusted friends. I have decided to share it because I don’t think I’m alone with my doubts and beliefs and puzzlement as to how to reconcile the two. Maybe there are others who would like to join this little pilgrimage to find that holy place of the heart. Surely there are others who have walked this way before me, and might have wisdom to share. And if you merely want to kibbitz about it, that’s fine too. I’m simply going to approach this topic as I do the horse trough – keeping the plughole clear, flushing out the muck with a high pressure hose, and in time, I trust, watching it fill with clean water.

I looked up “Seeking God” on Google, and the Bible quotes that bounced up and smacked me upside the head were all a conditional promise – “If you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Am I ready to give the whole of my aching, dented, distracted heart to this search? Honestly, probably not … My heart is a slippery thing that sneaks off about its own affairs with little regard for what the rest of me may want. But I’ll give what I can, and trust the God I do believe in to supply the rest.

When you play hide-and-go-seek, you begin with your hands over your eyes, counting. Then you turn and call out, “Here I come, ready or not!” At that point, the one thing you know for sure is that those whom you seek are somewhere other than where you are. Another thing you know is that they are in a place that you can find them. You have taken your hands off your eyes, and you look around.

So let me begin by defining my starting point.

I believe God exists. I believe in the unique “personhood” of God – in other words, as a being with thoughts, emotions, intentions, as opposed to a “divine force/spark/whatever”. For convenience sake, and because it’s annoyingly pretentious to use “she” or “it”, I will refer to this God as “he” and “him”, but I don’t actually believe he is confined by gender the way humans are.

I believe God is the creator of all things, including me.

I believe humans somehow made choices that caused them to become separated from God, and the spiritual sickness that resulted from this is what we call “sin”. I believe sin is deadly.

I believe Jesus lived, taught, died and rose again. I believe he is the actual son of God, and that his purpose was and is to reconcile us to God, by healing us from sin.

I believe in miracles. I have personally experienced too many of them not to believe. And no, I’m not talking about “the miracle of life” or how amazing it is that seeds turn into plants – I’m talking about events that are quite literally impossible but happen anyway. I’ll share some of those in future posts, because remembering and telling those stories makes me happy, and whoever reads them may enjoy them too.

And … that is as far as I’ve got in terms of actual, rock-solid belief. This is the ground I am standing on, the wall I have been leaning against while I counted down with my hands over my eyes, the patch of grass in front of my feet, the sky overhead. I have heard the opinions of atheists, some of them smarter than I and others not so much, and frankly it all sounds like nonsense – excuses, statements of faith in non-belief. Going forward I’ll probably write more on these subjects, because the fact that I believe these things doesn’t necessarily mean I believe a lot of other stuff that is usually attached to them.

Now for my own statements of faith – and the point here is that these are assumptions I choose to make because without them it would be impossible to proceed. But I find myself stopping and testing them at regular intervals, and I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s okay. I accept that I may eventually conclude that any of these assumptions is false – but right now, based on my experience, learning and pondering to date, I am satisfied that they are true.

I assume God is “good” – but I don’t actually know what that means.

I assume God “loves” me – but I don’t know what that means either.

I assume that the Bible is a somewhat reliable source of information about God. However, I have come to the conclusion that, even if it’s divinely inspired, it’s not necessarily factually accurate.

I’ve been told that God has a “purpose” for me – that he made me intentionally and for a reason. But really I don’t know what that is. Have any of the things I’ve done pleased or disappointed him? I hope and fear so, but I don’t know. Is there something important that I’ve failed to do? I feel that there is – but I don’t know for sure. Maybe I’m just dreaming when I think there must be something more.

So … why does any of this matter? Well, I “got saved” 31 years ago. I have been privileged to have some exceptional teachers – pastors and others – whose wisdom and willingness to tackle tough questions head on has consistently reinforced my faith and given me strength during hard times.

But except for brief periods of glorious clarity, my actual experience of life as a believer has been … muddled. Foggy. More questions than answers. More weakness than strength. More failures than victories. And I want better.

I believe God is, but WHO is he? What does he want of me? Why does he care whether or not I “worship” him (assuming he does)? What. Does. It. All. MEAN?

I have asked these questions on and off for years, and the answers I get (from humans) range from [very worried look] to “Read this book”. But the books are invariably syllogistic on at least some level – which is particularly depressing when the writers are clearly sincere, well-intentioned and good-hearted.

I just realized why I have to blog about this … It’s the most reliable way I can think of to ask God for answers directly. I am going to continue reading and thinking and searching and talking … but to that I’ll add writing, and just putting it out there.

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About Belladonna Took

Into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, at constant risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic. A wife, a mom, a daughter and sister, kind of a grandma. Until recently a full-time dog rescuer, now more concerned with rescuing myself. User of dog hair as accessory, decor and garnish. Technical writer, strategic thinker, occasional entrepreneur. Voiceless poet and storyteller. Born again Christ-follower and former missionary schoolteacher chewing on some uncomfortable questions. Ignorer of rules, challenger of assumptions, believer in miracles. Skeptical libertarian, equal opportunity despiser of politicians and assholes. Gonnabe gardener, wannabe beekeeper, Monsanto-hating tree-hugger. Morbidly obese chocaholic, with a horse I don't ride because I might break him, and if not he would probably break me.

6 responses »

  1. I so enjoy the way you express yourself. I think that you are on a “Wild Goose Chase”. The celts had a saying in their language Geadh-Glas which has imagery that implies “the Wild Goose Chase”. This was the name they gave to the Holy Spirit. This implies he is elusive, and as it is stated by Jesus in the Gospel “The will blows wherever it wants, you hear it’s sound, but you can’t quite figure out where he is going, so is every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) You may think you have grasped him when he slips through your fingers and pops up somewhere else in some other unexpected way. My view, which, like yours is often misted over, and I have to go on some vague memories, is that we were never meant to have precise answers to these questions. If the answers were out there for the picking like tittle green apples in the spring time, then faith would cease to be an essential component of the Gospel.
    Nevertheless, I know you will have fun playing this divine hide and seek. I look forward to running about with you and enjoying the game. I think you know me well enough by now to know that I am not meaning to be in any way cynical or facetious.
    Also, my journey, for what it is worth, has taught me to know God’s pleasure in me does not come from my performance, but from his joy in changing me, and enjoying me even when I fall face down in the mud. I have found him to be such an excellent Father, and he gets pleasure from my presence and yours as well, no matter how dismally I or you have failed. More and more I am learning to live in his presence and enjoy the ride. I am content to live as close to him so that all lesser things loose their allure. But don’t take me wrong. I still at age 73 struggle with youthful lusts that “war against my soul”. I do my best to keep this in it’s place, and never to give it it’s head.
    One of my most helpful realizations is one I got reading C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. Where I pass through the gossamer curtain between this life and the hereafter, all of the remaining shabby ness, embarrassing idiosyncrasies, remaining unholy habits, hates and sins will fall off me, and “I shall be like Him”. In this realization I came to realize that this glorified state is how he sees me now, and that is how he relates to me. My challenge is to be able to view all the crap I see on other Christians in the same light. My problem is I still have eyes and I still have a nose that works and I have a nose for BS.

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    • Hello, DJ – thank you for joining my game of hide and seek! I love the wild goose image of the Holy Spirit … it’s beautiful…:)

      To respond to your comments … I’m not really looking for precise factual answers. More, I’m trying to find a path through the inconsistencies in the OT (that’ll be the subject of another blog post), and God-as-Santa, and Jesus-as-my-Buddy, neither of which are real – and yet, He DOES provide, reliably and miraculously, and I’m reliably informed (and I sort of remember) that an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit is in fact both desirable and possible.

      I feel that I have lost my joy. I continue to “do good” and to pray and even sometimes to worship, but sometimes I feel as though I lost my joy the day I let go of my place in Sekhukhune. I read and I hear “God is this, God is that” … and then when I take that into the every day, so much of it doesn’t seem real. And then when I’m out “in the world” reading regular fiction, reading blogs, talking to people, the widespread unbelief grinds and grinds away at me. I listen to what people say and I want to tell them what I know, but everything I thought I knew seems insubstantial. Unreliable.

      I am weary of this wilderness, the more so since I do believe there’s a garden where He walks, just a few paces distant, if only I could figure out the way.

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  2. Wonderfully refreshing, once again. Real faith expressed and your words mirrors my own faith journey. I struggle with the arrogance of many of us Christians and the way the church has become more a stagnant expression of man’s control rather than the river of love flowing from Christ reaching into every crevice of human existence. Ah, so much to say! Keep us thinking, dear friend….

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    • Except that the craving for control, even at the cost of joy, peace, faith, and so many other good things, isn’t new. I wonder if it could be one of the worst symptoms of sin? My next post on this topic, which I will get written but it’s HARD to write, focuses on the early books of the OT. And the “God” described therein. Who, if we take it all as true, appears to be not quite sane. Either that, or has been seriously misrepresented.

      I really must put my head down and get that post written… I want to hear what people like you and Deej think. And others, I hope.

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  3. Pingback: Daniel diet: Day 1 | American Soustannie

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