Friday, October 14, 2005

Out of Hand

Life is strange and strange thoughts are loose in my woolly head. They're out of hand. First, I've been coming back again and again to the question, "What is the gospel?" I know that sounds simple, but I'm pretty sure it is much more than getting yourself saved and I'm pretty sure it isn't about having all the right information in your head or in your heart when you die. Second, I've been thinking about certainty lately and how uncertain I've become about a good number of things. And how painful it has been for me. Third, and finally (at least for tonight), I've been thinking about church lately and where my family needs to be. Where does the Lord want us? What would he have us do? What would please him?

I wish life were easier the older I got. I certainly thought my thoughts on life would clarify as I grew older. But the older I get the more I realize how little I have hold of. I realize how arrogant I am and have been. Life is so big and I am so small. And I'm so confused about so very many things.


mrsfish said...

A Season of Growth approaches. The closer we get to God, the more clearly we see. (But it is still better than the angst of the twenties)

ross said...

What is the gospel? That is an excellent question indeed. You may already know my (work in progress) answer to that question, but I don't want to prejudice your own inquiry with my half-baked ideas. What I do want to say is that I completely agree that it must be much more than just getting yourself saved, and that Jesus wasn't on about our modern culture's emphasis on "right ideas" being what is most important. We are saved by grace and correct ideas / beliefs / doctrines? Doesn't sit right to me.

Two books I have found very helpful on this topic are NT Wright's "The Challenge of Jesus" and Brian McLaren's "The Last Word and the Word After That". It's no wonder that both of these books make it onto my list - Brian McLaren has been reading a lot of NT Wright of late and his thoughts have been shaped by Wright's ideas. While I would encourage you to disagree with either book as often as you want to, I would still suggest reading them as an excellent source of fresh ideas on the topic, assuming you haven't read them before.

(By the way, if getting access to either or both of these books is problematic, email me your postal address to ross at lesstravelled dot net and I will post over my copies - I own two copies of Wright's book simply because I found it so helpful and challenging that I thrust it upon unsuspecting friends and blackmail them into reading it!! They are almost permanently out on loan, but one copy is due back in now and I'm more than happy to shoot it your way if you would like.)

Regarding certainty, I read a comment recently where someone said "there is more grace in questions than in answers." I don't actually think that is true, and I think it can be used as a cop-out for not seeking out answers! But nevertheless, there is truth in that there is grace for us when we have questions to which we don't know the answers. And as MrsFish points out, with questions and wrestling comes growth.

And as for church, I have a million crises of my own on that front and have nothing of value to add except that finding myself asking such questions is painful and frightening, and my prayers are with you because it may be both of those for you!!

Jamie Dawn said...

Doubt and uncertainty plagues me every day. I wish I had all the answers, but I don't, and I never will.
Before some major struggles hit our lives several years ago, life was a joy. I didn't have many doubts at all, and I was certain about God and how I thought things worked for Christians. Now, I feel like Neo when he decided to take the pill and break out of the Matrix. It is hard and there are so many things I can't explain about God and why He lets things happen. I don't know what His plan is, and I find myself thinking that He must be making some errors along the way. You are not alone in your struggles, but your heart is pointed in the right direction, and I hope you find a good church home for your family.

ScottB said...

You'll be glad to know that my new book will answer all of your questions. It's called, All the Information You Need to be Certain You've Found a Gospel-Preaching Church. ;)

I resonate with your struggles - as you no doubt can guess ;). But I've been wrestling wtih these things for going on five years now, so I'm getting used to the tension.

Meg said...

My tension has been around for the last couple of years, and intensified when I left behind the Christian non-profit world for the wonderland of marketing and advertising (most definitely for profit). Not that I lost some sense of myself, but that I realized I was substituting organizational mores for actual internal convictions. Do I believe all I thought I did? Is all of this really necessary? Is God in the details, or is God in the big picture? Are my strivings for my own sense of self or a form of faith obedience? Do I do what I do because it's what I've always done or because it has any semblance of righteousness? As soon as a breath of this becomes habit, I fear the loss of significance and rawness and truth and everything that makes this journey valid.

Question on, Scott. Or it's just not worth it.

Scott said...

I really appreciate the coming-along-side-of that you all have shown here. Thanks for the offered books. (Ross, they're on my wish list. Thanks so much for the offer. Berkhimer, I'll buy it when you write it.)

Our lives are lived in the breakers and the waves and sometimes it's difficult for me to find full expression of myself emotionally with all that is taking place around me. It's hard to find solitude with all the children and other things pressing in on me. Occasionally, the mask cracks. Often, in my case. And someday soon, hopefully, the mask will just fall off.

I enjoy the struggle, most days. Some days I am just too weary, however, and I am overwhelmed.

I just finished Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said and his conclusion struck me steeped in joy. We live in the Kingdom, friends.

Anyway, random thoughts from an increasingly random soul. Thanks, guys.

Anonymous said...

I googled "life is so big and I am so small" to see if anyone else has had this thought; you are the only one. Interestingly, just a couple of sentences before it, you wrote another thought, almost word for word, that I hold to; here is my version: the older I get the more I realize I need to learn. Kindred soul...