Intimidated

So, this new blog has me intimidated. New theme. Big Questions. It left me paralyzed. I have been thinking a lot about how to rectify this because I need to write and I haven’t been writing. Being paralyzed because I think I might need to have some answers to some questions is exhausting. It has kept me from writing more times than not. For now, I’m just going to write without the pressures of expectations and answers. More reflection. I would also like to write a little bit about my family. We are homeschooling one child now and while this new adventure is going well, it does not come without pressures and expectations, mainly put upon myself by myself.

I still have deep questions. I’m still very frustrated with 21st Century Christianity and how I fit in to it. But unless I take a step forward into faith I’m just going to be stuck here spinning my tires so to speak. I think my questions about faith will work their way into the weaving of my every day life.

We’ll see where this takes us. I promise more musings than 2 lousy posts.

Thanks for hanging with me.

Baptism Sunday

Today was a pure day.

In this walk, this journey out of my dried up field, I have many days that are not pure. They are stained with cynicism. Past hurts, current questions and a lot of hurting people around me all feed the field of cynicism.

When I look up the definition of cynicism, the words are harsh. “Believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of people’s sincerity or integrity”. Wow. Am I really that person? I definitely have a cynical attitude.

It’s not that these people truly are motivated by self-interest, for the most part, but some of these people have done things that make me question their sincerity. They have abused their power. This is serious and the basis of all my cynical attitudes. Some are just deeply ingrained in Christian culture that have added  non-essentials to the Christian walk using the bible and the platform to get their message and beliefs across. Most of the time that adds up to legalism.

I would not be completely truthful if some of my cynicism rubs off on my views of God. My father, my savior. I am thankful for enough deep experiences with Him to know that HE is not the cause of other people in power’s sin. It’s unfortunate that His name has been added on by these sometimes unsuspecting people. The fact that I have questions does not mean that I question God. It took me a long time to realize that. It is okay to be on this journey. There are a lot of other people on this journey too. I feel there is a difference between having questions and questioning God. And I admit I have done both. I don’t understand some things and probably never will this side of heaven, but I do know God. And I am thankful that even though I have had very imperfect people leading me on this journey, somehow God has used them to strongly influence my relationship with Him.

But getting back to today. Today was pure. One of the definitions of pure is free of any contamination. For a few hours today all of my doubts, my questions, and my cynicism were pushed out, and instead, pure joy as a room full of people came together to witness baptism. Seven baptisms.

Now, baptism is one of the things that I can be cynical about. Not the actual experience or the meaning, but the adding on from other churches. Examples of things I have heard in the past are in order to become a member of such-and-such church you must be baptized, especially if you grew up in a different denomination than the current church. Or if you were sprinkled as a baby, even though you have come to a relationship with Christ, you must be dunked, because, that’s biblical. And we do what’s biblical. Period. That’s where my cynicism kicks in.

Today at our church several children got baptized. And one adult with a very cool story. She was first and her story was so pure and so handpicked by God that even though it challenged one of my current questions, the question didn’t stand a chance in this moment.

The question that I have has to do with how people are picked by God to have a relationship with him. You know, if  you have no knowledge of God how do you get in a relationship with Him? All of my life I have heard that unless the Holy Spirit prompts you, you cannot get saved. Hmmm. Well, then why isn’t everyone prompted by the holy spirit? Some think that only certain people are; you could call this predestination. Another thing I have been told is that we have to tell others about Christ. Growing up I was told that the blood of people would be on my hands if I was not obedient in sharing Christ (this is false). But I grew up evangelical. We have missionaries. The Great Commission. You. Go tell.  It’s on us!!!! Regardless how you look at it, people who come to know Christ by unusual ways have a very neat God story when they choose to believe in Him, and this lady was no exception.

After the young lady with the cool story got baptized, I was very moved. And I hate to admit it but baptisms stopped moving me a long time ago. Maybe it’s because at other churches there is fancy talk, robes and formality. Here, everyone was in t-shirts and shorts. Our “baptismal” is a feeding trough. And this experience was cool because growing up there was a lot of shouting when adults got baptized. Because they were adults and you know…. only 10% of people past the age of 18 receive Christ, at least that is what I have been told in countless sermons on evangelism. Remember, it’s on us!  (if you didn’t note the sarcasm there, then you don’t know me). I guess the difference in today and other times I have witnessed adults being baptized, was the intimacy. The transparency of the service. Even the casualness of it all. It was beautiful.

Then the kids started being baptized. And at our church the parents are fully involved and complete this process. Both the mom and dad. I thought it was cool when I was at other churches and they allowed the father to baptize their children. I never thought that I, a woman, would be able to have equal participation in baptizing my children. So there’s that.  The parents talked about how their kids came to know Christ. How other people in the church had influenced their kids, talked to them about Christ. Taught them. Then, either the mom or dad performed the baptism. Again, it was beautiful.

There’s something else you need to know about this service. It was FULL of kids. We wanted everyone to be in the room to view all the baptisms. So that meant all the kids who are normally in preschool or the baby room were in church. We expected it to be loud. Chaotic. But surprisingly, it wasn’t. That was something else I noticed that was different. The children. Even my children, lol. Last time we were all in service together I was a distracted mess. Up and down. In and out. I did not notice the many kids in the room, past it being a little bit noisier than when they aren’t present.

The children, especially the smaller children topped this experience off with a giant P for pure. As the children were getting baptized all the of the other children in the room wanted to see, so by the end of the baptisms the front of the church was lined with small children. And we sang. And they smiled. And they sang. They were free. We were free. And they were beautiful. It was beautiful. I made a point of looking all over the room to see and notice the presence of God. To remember the moment. The pure presence of Christ.

There were no questions going around in my mind. No theological nit-picking going on in my head. It was just beautiful stories being told and the symbolic act of publicly acknowledging Christ as their savior. It was beautiful 3 year olds singing and smiling. It was wet, cold children coming up from a trough full of water, of all things, smiling, hugging their parents. It was parents smiling and hugging their children back.

It was as if God was reminding me once again how big He is. How I don’t have to worry and question over everything because, ultimately, He’s got it. He’s big. He was surrounding me with His presence.  It was pure. It was God. That’s why there were no questions. Just the radiance of Christ on those children and young lady, the parents, and everyone in that room.

Pure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message from God

A little over two years ago, I was working out at a gym that happens to be run by a church. After I had gotten done working out I was leaving the facility and a man was behind me attempting to get my attention. Eventually, I realized what was going on and stopped and turned and waited to see what this man had to say. I had no idea who he was.

The man hesitated, I could tell he was thinking about his words. After he spoke, I understood why. He started out by telling me his name (which I don’t remember) and by prefacing what he was about to say with a “I promise, I’m not a weirdo, I know you don’t know me but I feel there is something I need to tell you”.

Well….obviously that got my attention. Again he hesitated but I tried to give him the best, most welcoming face for him to share what was on his mind, all the while in the back of my mind I was thinking “is this for real? What is about to come out of his mouth????”.

I cannot remember the exact words, but basically, this man said that God wanted him to share something, something I needed to hear.  He stated that God had given him this image, and he didn’t know if it would make sense to me, but God told him to tell me so that is what he was doing. He said the image was of a field, or a pasture, and it was dead and dry. The man said that he didn’t know what I was going through but God told him to tell me that the field would bloom again. There would be life. And he imagined a field full of green grass and flowers. By this time, I knew this guy wasn’t a weirdo. He was just trying to be obedient and follow through with what God had laid on his heart. I thanked him, and we parted ways. I haven’t ever seen him again.

His words had a dramatic impact on me.  I didn’t really know what it meant at the time, except that I very much felt like the analogy this man gave to me. We were in transition with churches, not sure where we were going to end up. I had faith questions that just seemed to be growing instead of being resolved. For the past few years I have been on a journey to faith. Real faith. I grew up in a very black and white faith existence, with a warped kind of theology. Then I moved on to a more open denomination (I thought) and it took me 20 years to realize that there is just as much bondage and legalism in this denomination than in the one I grew up in (but much less warped). Things were revealed to me that were no longer black and white. My questions got bigger. If there is no black and white answer to this scenario, then what about all the other stuff I have been believing, what is real? What am I to believe? In my search, the thing that I am reminded about the most is we don’t have all the answers and we never will. That’s a part of faith that I am growing to know. My questions don’t make God smaller…it makes Him much, much bigger.

Through it all, I have never given up on God, who He is, and who Jesus is; the sacrifice that was given to save the world. My view of Jesus has gotten bigger. We tend to make God small in so many ways with our rules and regulations, with our rigidity. With certain theology. I am just sick of it.

So in this journey to search and find out exactly what my faith stands on, I knew that, and was encouraged by others, to share this journey with you. I am going to be real. I am going to be honest. I have questions. It’s like my foundation all these years was built on lies. Yes, lies, albeit with good intentions. It started out with alcohol, then it moved on to women’s role in church. Actually, it started out with culottes, dresses to the middle of the knee and never going to movies or listening to secular music or even contemporary christian music…but that is for another blog post! I have questions about hell. I have questions about other faiths.  I have serious questions about evangelism (gasp). What is “preaching the gospel” really about? What does that look like?

Because of these questions, this sometimes makes my faith and spirituality complicated.  What I’ve learned is that God is not only in the big, emotional transformation, He in the quiet places, too. It’s difficult to get used to. So now, I’m searching for how to find God again. It’s like I am starting all over again.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this journey. We are in an amazing church now, affirming of my questions for the very first time. I don’t feel like a heretic because they share some of the same beliefs I do, especially about women’s role in marriage and in the church, something I have been extremely passionate about since early adulthood. But also, they don’t tell me what to believe. Don’t get me wrong, there is a strong foundation. They tell me to read the Bible, they give godly wisdom and direction but they don’t tell me what to do and what to believe. That is what the Holy Spirit is for. Imagine that. I have felt that so much the past few years, that the Holy Spirit is there to lead, guide and direct. We don’t have to agree on everything. They don’t use the Bible as a tool to control or guide me into thinking that something is biblical and that is the only way to view it because that is how God designed it (women’s role in marriage for one).

My pasture is still not blooming. In fact it is still rather dry and bare. It’s hard to believe that it will bloom again. I feel like the things that I have been taught spiritually, I am having to strip down and examine as if I had not been raised in the church. Kind of like  a dry, barren pature. That’s why I called this blog Wildflower faith. I’m waiting on my field to grow and bloom again.

I could go on and on and I will….in later posts. There are lots of things to talk about. I’m glad you found your way here.