I don’t think it would be fair to say that I have had a crisis of faith lately. I think it would be better phrased if I said that I had started questioning some of the things that I had held onto as core beliefs. “How did that happen?” you might ask. It seems almost counter-intuitive, but I have come to understand that it is much easier for your faith to be undermined from within.
A few months back I signed up to get daily emails from a Christian website. Some of the emails I really enjoyed and got something out of. Sure I still read my bible every day, but, as much as I wanted them to deepen my understanding, maybe on some level, I looked for them to be a “fast-food” means of increasing my knowledge of God. A post about Christian mystics got me really questioning the reality of the experiences I felt that I had with God. But the one that really sent me over the edge was the one that tried to explain why not all believers will be recognized by Jesus. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now I’m not saying that these posts didn’t have value. What I am saying is that they didn’t have value for me. Perhaps I wasn’t ready spiritually for their message.
But there I was, questioning God and my relationship with him, feeling uncomfortable in my heart with the things I had been reading. So I thought back to some of the books I have read that truly made me feel as if I had gained a real understanding of God; C.S. Lewis and J.I.Packer. Ultimately I ended up on Packer and and started reading his book KNOWING GOD. I wasn’t a chapter into it before I felt the rightness of the message within the book. It fed me. I hadn’t realized until that moment that I had been starving.
So what’s my point here? I am absolutely not condemning the daily devotional that I had been getting, but I had to recognize that instead of feeding ME, it was putting distance between me and God. And I am always brought back to the word Jesus uses to describe God, the word that we use to identify him withing the Trinity…God THE FATHER. I am a child of God and I think he parents us much like we parent our own children – there is a different set of rules and instructions for each of us. Ultimately it is for each of us to find our own way – and it is for no one to tell us our path is wrong if we are following it with an honest and earnest heart, bent upon knowing and loving our Lord. If God has called us to be his children, will He not also show us the way?
I know that going forward, if it isn’t bringing me to a new understanding, and is instead pushing me farther from, instead of closer to God, then that isn’t the resource for me. That doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else, though. Perhaps Jesus tells us the the road we walk will be a difficult one because it is one that we must each forge ourselves.
It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged. Mostly this is because I have been focusing a lot of my time, and energy on promoting my newest project, THE BOOK OF RUTH, which launched on Kickstarter November 1st and wraps up November 30.
It’s definitely been an up and down month for me. It was so easy two years ago when I felt God “calling” me to do this book. I remember listening to the Matthew West song “All In”. Strange that it would be so easy to take a risk and been all in at the beginning. But then I guess at that point I haven’t really risked anything from a financial, or time point of view. Now that we are so close to the finish line. Now that I have put so much of myself into this project, I suddenly find myself doubting God’s commitment.
I’ve been reading the book of Matthew this week, specifically chapters 17 & 18. In Chapter 17: 20 Jesus heals a demon possessed boy that his disciples had failed to heal. When they ask him why they couldn’t drive out the demon he replies “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” I feel as if he’s talking to me. Because there have been times over this past week specifically that I have felt as if my faith was too small. I keep asking for help and praying to God, but I don’t even know what to pray for. I’m so conflicted.
David and I have been so blessed. Maybe the point of the blessings is to pay it forward. To put out this book without counting about the cost. But I’m human, and working in comics you don’t have a pension plan. And I want this book to be successful. I want people to see it and love it and get behind it. I want that validation. (You see why I’m struggling)
And then today I read this verse in Matthew 18:19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” I was inclined to dismiss this and focus on other parts of that reading focusing on the children, but then it appeared again. Isaac and I were doing his daily devotions. We read Acts 10:44-48 and Acts 12:1-10. This is the conclusion of the story of Peter and Cornelius and the story of the angel of God freeing Peter from prison. And there is was, at the end of this devotion, the verse of the day – Matthew 18:19.
So today I’m putting it out to you. The people who read my blog. I’m not asking for you to pray for a successful Kickstarter. But I am asking that you pray for this book that God has called me to write. That he uses it for his plan (whatever that may be)and that he helps me to have faith (even if it’s as small as a mustard seed). I’m asking that you pray for me to have my “all-in” faith in God’s plan renewed.
Thank you to everyone who reads this and God bless.
“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34
Several times this month I have found a passage in my readings that speaks to me and then brings me to a new understanding of some of the readings we repeat each Sunday as a part of our service and where they come from. This one today hit home particularly for me because this month I found myself lashing out at my family. Fall is always a difficult time for me as the days grow shorter. But for some reason, this year I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed. Even the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning have, at times, felt like mountains to climb. And those feelings I have nurtured in my heart, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration, have of course flowed out of my heart via my mouth to hurt the ones I love.
This morning as I prayed on this verse and asked for God’s help, I found myself repeating familiar words…“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy spirit that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord”.
This verse comes from the Collect for Purity and is a part of our Anglican service every Sunday. The entire collect goes like this; “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
I can only think that this collect was directly inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew in recognition of the struggles we all face; to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, so that it is the good stored inside us that comes out of our mouths, and not the evil.
I will continue to pray that my heart be cleansed so that when I am called to give an account for the words I have spoken, the good far outweighs the evil, in Jesus’ name. Amen