I feel like I have been climbing up wrungs of a ladder out of a pit for a really long time. Inside the pit, I can see the light and I work my way towards it. But sometimes a wrung collapses and I go backwards. I have been fighting for my faith. Questioning, doubting, lamenting, begging God for answers. Instead of taking each pastor, priest, or author that I have encountered for their word, I have been wrestling with God to figure this thing out on my own. To make my faith my own. Finally. This is lovely and fruitful and hard all at the same time. I get overwhelmed by all the different authors, all the different demoninations. Which is right, a missional church or a charismatic church? Which author is the best, one who defines the presence of the Lord or the one who talks about feeding the poor? My head swims. I become cynical. I don’t love the church anymore because it seems like it is failing on the issues of orphan care, poverty, and racial reconciliation. It feels confusing and difficult. Loving Jesus is easy but figuring out faith and church and all the issues is craziness.
So I read every book by ALL the authors, I highlight my bible and research the meaning of God’s kingdom. I listen to sermons and podcasts. I give. I serve. I pray. I seek. I beg God for clarity and wisdom. I beg him for JOY.
And he provides. He allows me to wrestle, to be hurt, to say things I wish I could erase. He allows me to hear that this fight, this making our faith our own, is completely normal. He helps me to see that this is all ok, but he tells me what I already know, that I can’t survive in this place, in this pit. I have to get out and be surrounded by the light. HIS light. I cannot be angry, cynical, disheartened and truly live.
He has shown me what matters and what doesn’t. He has shown me that he is so much bigger than a denomination or a book. That his love is all around. He is in every place, every crevice of my life. And THAT place is church and faith. The place where he meets me and loves me and teaches me. Church is people serving together, church is a meal with good friends, church is spending intentional time with my children, church is an amazing conversation with a friend, church is loving my husband well. It is ALL holy ground.
We are all sinners. All imperfect. And as church is made up of people, it will be messy and broken and beautiful all at the same time. I am so thankful for the truth he has revealed to me, that none of it matters. All of the different beliefs don’t matter, the different styles don’t matter, the focus of the church doesn’t matter. All that matters is the sweet baby lying in a manger. The baby that died for our sins and gave us freedom. If we keep our eyes focused on him and plow forward with grace and love, it’s all beautiful and sacred and holy. Every. Single. Thing.
This Christmas season, I am so thankful for all that God has opened my eyes to see. I am so thankful for the tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes who came to save me from my sinful self. This is true joy. This is good news. A beautiful gift that we all get to unwrap and hold tight forever.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.