The closer I get to God the more uncertain I become.
One of my favorite books is Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World. I seem to read it again every summer, because it reminds me to seek the sacred in the simple. I need the reminder, because with my schedule I can easily get in a habit of passing by the very things that she calls us to sit and partake in. I love how in reading her words, I begin to stop again and take notice of the simple. In taking notice, I get reconnected to the sacred. I begin to breathe again, and the weight of the world slides off of my shoulders. We aren’t supposed to carry the world anyway, are we? She has mastered the art of being still and inspires me to do the same.
As much as I relish the way she uses her words in writing, I found that she was most known for her style of preaching. Baylor University even named her as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. I was intrigued to know why a woman so gifted at preaching would step down from the podium as an Episcopal Priest and decide to teach. Searching for her story, I found her faith memoir, Leaving Church, which fed my curiosity even more.
Before I made it out of the introduction, I was halted by her words.
Even though I have finished her story, I go back to the beginning where I met these words. I suppose her words are stirring deep within me, because I feel so much the same as Barbara does. There was such a great part of my life where I was certain of things that I now question. I was so certain that I wanted to spend my life convincing others of my truth. In being certain, we become exclusive. It must be this way! We shut things out if they don’t fit or don’t agree. We often become more about what we are not than what we are. In our attempt to be right or righteous, our words and actions bring others into the chambers where they await the verdict delivered from a vengeful God.
I have been in those chambers fearing punishment all the while claiming His perfect love casts out fear. I believe there is a difference in speaking the Word and knowing the truth of the Word. Today, I know that perfect love that casts out fear, so it would be very difficult for words of anyone to send me back to a pit of guilt. In knowing that perfect love, it is difficult now for me to see words posted on social media that don’t align to that love, especially by people that claim to know it. The thought of casting words like stones to the already wounded makes me cringe. We all agree that there is no condemnation in Christ, yet out of the same lips come words of judgment as if we have that authority. I hate to admit that I have done it myself. I suppose most of us would admit seasons of being spiritually schizophrenic?
My heart has been heavy this week as I have sought to minister to a man that is sick. Someone’s certainty has become his truth, and he fully believes that he has missed eternity. He sinned too much. He failed to get baptized. He never earned his way, so why should he expect such a gift. Some may say he doesn’t deserve such a gift, but the God I know reminds me of the thief on the cross and His heart to pursue us even to the final hour. How he sees my God breaks my heart.
I don’t want to live without my relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t. It is my life source and my joy. My cup runneth over with delight knowing that He never lets me go. His goodness I still cannot fathom. I have seen that it matters not what I am doing or seeking to earn, but who I am becoming because when I surrender to His molding He can use me anywhere…a school, a nursing home, a hospital, a grocery store, a gas station, a subway. There was a time when I shut others out if they didn’t fit or could possibly “taint” my own journey, but my new heart has great compassion for the hurting and lonely and the broken and the addicted and the abused and the sick. I take no credit, because it is not in my nature to love the hard to love, but it is my God’s nature. So I am certain of this…
God is love.
I am His beloved.
His love never fails.
We are called to be a vessel of the love to all.
I wonder what you are certain of?
It is well,