Faith has not been easy for me, and calling myself a Christian has become harder over the years. As I find myself more and more “on the edge of the inside” of Christianity, I’ve collected some sparklets of truth that keep me from giving up.
These are my lamp posts- welcoming me further into the mysterious land of building my own theology. They are my north star when I feel lost and alone, the comforting reminders that pull me out of my turbulent thoughts and set me on still waters again.
I’m sharing these patchwork pieces of my faith in the hopes that in you can find encouragement and comfort in your own dance of faith and feminism.
Now Faith is …
Growing up in an Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Non-denominational (did I lose anyone yet?) church had its thrills let me tell you.
Tent revivals? Check!
Dancing? You betcha!
(I like to think I get my killer dance moves from my time spent in the church sanctuary actually)
Travelling preachers? Yep!
One of my favorite missionary preachers, Dr. Dale Davis passed away last year. If you ever heard him preach, hopefully you were lucky enough to hear a sermon titled “Now Faith Is!” I can still picture him- voice sounding to every corner of the room, foot stomping on the stage with each word – “Now! Faith! Is!”- maybe adding in a little dance as well. He was utterly entertaining and passionately sincere. Decades later, whenever I re-read Hebrews 11:1 I see Dr. Dale on the stage of my little church, desperately hoping that some of his great faith might find it way into our hearts. I’ve never seen a person more excited and energetic about God. And this great man had great faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
Now Faith is …
You know what scripture doesn’t say? It doesn’t say that faith is having all the answers to all questions. Being a person of faith does not mean you know. Being a person of faith does not mean you have to know. There is no point in your spiritual path where you are going to unlock the door to the dungeon, defeat the boss, save the princess, and finally understand everything- who’s in, who’s out, what Jesus meant by this or that, or why in the story of Lot and his daughters is even in the Bible.
“I know that I know that I know”
Who needs to have faith when we can shop around and find the right church or denomination or religion to answer every question we have with a satisfactory response?
In my experience it seems the Christian church has defined “faith” with “knowing”. We expected religion to take the place of faith. We’ve splintered hundreds of times over into hundreds of denominations because certain people answered certain questions in different ways.
Sprinkled baptism or full immersion?
Did God intend for men to be the head of the house?
Are woman allowed to share their experience of God?
Is homosexuality affirmed by God?
Faith or works?
The list goes on.
Who needs to have faith when we can shop around and find the right church or denomination or religion to answer every question we have with a satisfactory response? After all no one wants to hear “I don’t know” from the pulpit.
When we define faith with dogma and doctrine, of which we are entirely certain, it is in effect heresy. Faith is a verb, not a noun. Many of us have made our Dance with the Divine more about finding the right answer, about figuring it out, and less about enjoying the gift of faith. I know I have more often than not. We are so afraid of not knowing, of the mystery, that we lock ourselves in a box and call it religion. We desperately need the certainty and comfort of dogma and we climb into our own heads to find it.
Mystery is not unknowable, mystery is infinitely knowable.
– Richard Rohr
We are missing the point
You see, we can debate scripture and experience until we’re as blue in the face as Psalty The Singing Psalm book (you’re welcome). We can study every theologian that has ever written about The Divine, we can go to our place of worship every single week and still miss the point entirely. Fighting over which religion or denomination has the right answers is the easiest way to avoid facing those you should be loving.
And isn’t Love the ultimate right answer?
The truth is that everything I think I know about God, how the Divine works, … is not enough. And it never will be. But you know what? I am comfortable not having the answers to every question, I am comfortable not knowing. Science has proven that we live in an ever expanding universe, there is infinite mystery left to be discovered.
Fighting over which religion or denomination has the right answers is the easiest way to avoid facing those you should be loving.
So what do we do when we honestly don’t know? What do we do when the tired answers of our boxed up religion no longer ring true? We have faith. And our faith leads us to LOVE in the face of not knowing.
I think Dr. Dale would be okay if I added a little bit to his message.
Now Faith Is.
being willing not to know and still being content because God knows.
Do not ask for light, but as for the fire
I’ll leave you with a prayer of St. Bonaventure. Gloriously simple in its earnest desire for faith over certainty.
“If you wish to know how all these things come about,
that I have talked about,
ask for grace not for instruction,
ask for desire not understanding,
ask for the groaning of prayer,
not diligent reading.
Ask for the spouse not the teacher. Ask for darkness not clarity. Do not ask for light, but ask for the fire. ”
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