Five Minute Friday: expect

An excellent reminder, today and every day.

Between Blue Rocks

Version 2

We’ve been “expecting” for six months now, a euphemism which I find doesn’t quite catch the truth of it.

Early in the pregnancy, if I’m honest, my expectations were different — my husband and I both acknowledge, now, that we didn’t expect to make it this far; we expected — for a myriad of reasons — to lose the baby.

A lot could happen in the next three months, and I cannot presume to know, but now I expect that in late August I’ll be holding a wiggling, crying little boy.

Even so, to say we’re “expecting a baby” is a misnomer. We don’t expect him. We have him — something like two pounds of him, every inch a baby right now. A baby whose kicks and tumbles we treasure. A baby to whom we already talk and sing. He isn’t born yet, but he’s not merely expected. He exists.

It’s…

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Pathway To Belief

Spurgeon- That Is Faith

 

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.  1 Samuel 1:27-28a (NKJV)

My daughter has given me many reasons to be proud over her almost twenty-five years of life. This post from her blog, “My Soul Found Rest,” is one of them–an example of her courage and character.

I asked her if the timing of this “faith reconstruction” coincided with the death of her father a little over two years ago. That type of life event often triggers a “crisis of faith.”  She states it actually began a month earlier with the start of  graduate school and an introduction to new perspectives on long-held beliefs.

I have learned over and over God is never threatened by our questions, our doubts, or our fragile faith. He patiently hangs on to us even when our grasp on Him weakens.

I trust Hannah’s journey will bring encouragement as you trod your own pathway to belief.

My Soul Isn’t Finding Rest

What do you do when your soul doesn’t find rest? What do you do when you’re so deep in reconstructing your faith you feel you have nothing to stand on? Two years ago, I started a process of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith. Oh, it started slowly at first, but those things snowball on you. First it starts with one belief, and then you realize that if that belief is up for grabs, maybe the rest are too, and so it begins. Combine that with a growing appreciation for mistakes and flaws in humanity, and you soon have a recipe for unbelief. It looks like this:

Take one tablespoon of “hm, this seems odd,” and mix it with a cup of “that doesn’t make sense” and you get a recipe for “what the &%$* do I believe, and why would I believe something that sounds so incredible again?”

I mean, let’s put this bluntly. We believe that a being that we can’t see, can’t touch, can’t hear, and won’t be able to see, touch, or hear for as long as live, somehow created the universe, plus us. All this was fine and dandy until we screwed up, cue every horror ever perpetrated in history, which is only our fault, not the being’s. Said being only talks to certain people at certain times in certain ways, and then we get to the central part of the story, where said being hops down to earth, becomes human, dies, rises from the dead (!) and disappears, leaving a couple hundred people to put together a religion and travel all over the world with it.

It sounds like a highly convenient fairy tale, which is great when you have the little-kid gloss over your eyes. But what happens when you get to be an adult and the response changes from “Wow, that’s so cool! How’d he do that?” to “What the #$*!”

That’s when you get to the frantic slipping foundation stage of it all. Apparently, after doing some reading, this deconstruction thing is actually a thing, by which I mean to say that it’s considered a legitimate stage of faith over a lifetime. Roughly, you have the little-kid stage of total acceptance, then the mid-stage of blind acceptance, then the next mid-stage of @#$&, then the last state of total acceptance. I’m paraphrasing and condensing, but that’s basically it. The problem is that the church glorifies stages one, two, and four, without accepting (although this is changing) that there’s a stage three in there, and that stage four can’t be reached without going through stage three. The usual timeframe for stage three is early adulthood, so it’s not like I’m going through something weird or unusual. In fact, it’s a good thing… it just doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

However much of a good thing it might be, I’m still stuck here, now, fighting it out. Which brings me to my original questions—what do you grab onto when you feel there’s nothing left? Whatever is graspable is different for everyone; for me it’s the fact that the world is just too perfect and too beautiful for chance, and that I’ve been friends with the Lord for so long I can’t imagine leaving my best friend. Some days that really feels like all I can grab, and that’s okay. I staked my path to His years ago, and He’s gently reminded me He’s staked His to mine too. That’s why He said He wouldn’t leave us alone, that He would come to us, because this walk is much too difficult to do without help.

I confess I debated writing this for a number of reasons; one, doubt is still considered weakness in the church instead of a pathway to belief, and two, it’s just my own journey, and to blog about it seems pretty self-centered. But I chose to write it because it’s those voices online who have been my solid foundation recently, the ones who write of the same doubt process, the ones who aren’t afraid to say that faith is hard work but they’re slogging it out. It’s rough not being at rest, but Proverbs says that the first side of the story always seems right, until the second comes along and questions it. Truth can survive any amount of questioning, and so I hang onto the fact that despite all my fears and questions and doubt, and yes, unbelief, that the truth will out. Like murder, the truth will out, and this isn’t forever—rest will come again.

My Soul Found Rest
Used with permission

Original Content:
Copyright © 2015 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

KING Of Kings And LORD of Lords

Sword-790815_640-Pixabay

“Come on, admit it. When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, when you feel like Morton’s salt is being poured into your wounded soul, you don’t want a thin, pale, emotional Jesus who relates only to lambs and birds and babies.

You want a warrior Jesus.

You want a battlefield Jesus. You want His rigorous and robust gospel to command your sensibilities to stand at attention.”

— Joni E. Tada

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.

Revelation 19:11-16 (NKJV)

“My Humility And How I Attained It”

Humility--Photobucket

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6b (NKJV)

One of our favorite family one-liners, when we catch ourselves sounding a bit less than humble, is this:  “Have you read my book, ‘My Humility And How I Attained It?'”

When I was growing up in suburban Milwaukee, WI, there was an empty lot next door. Eventually, this was purchased by a family and a house was built. The family who lived there was not readily accepted by the other neighbors living on our street primarily because “Mrs. R” was always bragging about how much bigger her house was, how successful her husband’s television repair shop was, how much money they had, and how brilliant her children were. This attitude spawned a saying of my father’s invention: “She struts when she sits.”

I am keenly aware lately how much pride is infused into everything we do–even as Christians. We are proud of our sports teams, proud of our schools and colleges, proud of our houses, our cars, our kids, our jobs, our education, our ethnic background, even our pastors, theology, and denominations. You name it, we’re proud of it.

It is no wonder our culture and country are such a mess. It’s often difficult to tell the Christians from the non-Christians by how we act and speak. We listen to the same music, watch the same movies and television shows, read the same books, use the same language, and go to the same events. We get so caught up, we don’t take time to examine whether what we are doing pleases the Lord or is even fitting behavior for ambassadors of the King of Kings.

Like “Mrs. R,” our lives have become a never-ending strut of pride. Of course, we don’t call it that. We use affable sounding words like “self-esteem” and “being proud of ourselves.” We “deserve” those blessings which have come our way because we worked harder, were more talented, smarter, or more “special” than others. It is no wonder God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Pride is ugly–in all its various forms.

As for me, I need to constantly keep a guard on my attitude and  mouth, reminding myself Who is the Giver and Sustainer of my life.  All good things flow from His Hand and He graciously allows me to share in them. I didn’t earn them, I certainly don’t deserve them, and I have no right to be proud of anything He freely gives me.

As I look around me at the Church, our country, and our culture, I have to wonder, what are we so proud of?

A bit of humility would go a long way. . .

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5: 6 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2015 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)

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