I describe my faith like this: a basket full of beliefs and doubts, carried by God. The doubts are not about whether I believe scripture is true or if there is a God but more about my own doubt in being able to trust that God is listening, He is engaged, and will act. That is one reason I write this blog: it’s important for me to pay attention when I see God’s hand at work in the world. It reassures me in my times of doubt. And one of my doubts is usually that God will give me anything to write! I know – it’s silly.
This past year has been particularly challenging for me. I see the world becoming more broken by sin. Jesus tried to open our minds to the concept that we all are one people – that no matter how different we may seem, we are one in the Lord. And for me, that means that as a Christian, all people, even the non-Christians, are precious and held in the Lord’s loving arms. Maybe it is only my perspective but I see a more individualistic culture becoming the norm. I see sin (separation from God) manifesting in our world as a lack of concern for the poor, dehumanization of certain groups, disdain for experiences different than our own, and the use of religion as a weapon. This pains me greatly and so this past year, I have struggled to keep my depression under control and avoid cynicism.
Thank God, literally, He continues to act and show me even in my doubts, that my belief in an all-encompassing, world-changing, no qualifications required LOVE is still truth. One thing that my experiences of divine love have in common is that I was open to it – emotionally available and physically available. It would have been so much easier to pull the covers over my head and never leave the house.
One day during staff meeting, a mother and daughter stopped in to join us for prayers before her daughter’s surgery. We laid hands on her as we prayed. For me, when I touch other people during prayer, I get an intense physical sensation that runs through my body which I believe is the Holy Spirit. This particular day, it was so intense that I nearly collapsed. Broken but hopeful.
Recently, a group of us went to the local Mosque for their Open Mosque Day – an opportunity to meet as neighbors, as one in the Lord. They invited us to an instructed call to prayer. When I heard the call to prayer, in a language I didn’t know, the Holy Spirit shot through me and I felt that this call to the divine was ancient and preceded our time of division. Tears came to my eyes. I have no intention of converting to Islam but that day was a lesson for me. Not only is the Holy Spirit present everywhere but as I am committed to supporting their spiritual expression, I need to support those Christian expressions of faith with which I disagree. Broken but hopeful.
After Hurricane Harvey, a group of us delivered lunch to relief workers in various neighborhoods. It would have been more convenient for me to go by myself since the neighborhood was close to mine but a parishioner suggested we go together which meant I arrived back at the church where a woman had been waiting. She asked if the church was open because she needed to pray. It was locked but I was happy to let her in. We prayed together and shared our flood stories. When I saw her recently at St. Mary’s Fall Gift Market, we both said we were doing better now and she was surprised when I remembered her name. We shared a Holy Spirit moment; I will never forget her. Broken but hopeful.
One of my beliefs is that of free will. God has the ultimate power to act but we have free will to make ourselves available or to pull the covers over our heads and protect our hearts. While I cannot control everything, I also don’t believe that God is controlling everything. He gave us the ability to choose. We have 31,102 verses in the Bible that encourage us to choose love. What is keeping you from making yourself available to God?