Dishwashers in the Revolution

Actively bringing about much needed change in our communities and hope to the broken and disheartened.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

I recently wrote a post about struggling with faith – about how one might get lost in the shuffle of expectations and end up just walking through the motions rather than living passionately for something. I wrote the whole post with adults my age in mind (mid-twenties) – but after having a few conversations with older adults, I’ve found that this isn’t just about my stage of life – it’s an epidemic running through the church. I might get sick.

Most notable of my recent conversations was one with a pastor who I’ve been an acquaintence of for probably 10 years or so. I ran into him at a Barnes and Noble shortly after writing my last post and without much prompting our conversation went in the direction of struggling with faith. It’s funny because he brought it up, not me. This is a guy who went out and planted a church a number of years ago with the hopes of, as he put it, “just loving people.” I think that’s honorable. I think loving people should be the primary action of the church and so it sounds to me like he went with the right motivation. I would also say that it takes a pretty big amount of faith, as it were, to go plant something new…whether it be a church or a pizza shop, it takes balls to put yourself out there to try and build something from the ground up. At the Vineyard they have a saying – that “faith” is spelled “r-i-s-k” because frankly, that’s true in any arena of life. But I’d like to take a closer look at the dilemma of faith. Yes, that’s right. Dilemma. Because it is one.

I would ponder a guess that this church plant has probably been around for 8 or 9 years now…maybe less. And I’m sure it took a lot of thinking and planning to put together a strategy to go out and do this new church. Most of all – Christians would say – is trusting that God is in it, having faith that God will make it work. So off he went, planted this church, and now all these years later he is sitting in a Barnes and Noble, talking to me about this dilemma of faith – not being sure that he did the right thing. Not being sure if this church plant was ultimately going to enable him to do what his heart desired all those years ago…you know, the whole loving people thing. His biggest complaint was that in church, you always have some kind of agenda. There’s always some kind of structure or goal or something that we’re trying to attain. I could relate, it was the same thing in my church and it’s the same in every church everywhere.

Example: Why do churches have bulletins? Powerpoints? Sound systems? It’s because they are trying to be attractive to outsiders. If they weren’t, and they were just trying to do community on Sunday, they wouldn’t need any of that stuff. It’s agenda-filled because that’s how you run a business. You have a product and you try to sell it to as many people as you can. But at some point, people who are really interested in trying to know God at some deeper level, see past all of the curtains and commercials and wonder if there is supposed to be more than this.

So ok, I’m fed up with church. So are lots of other people. How is this a dilemma of faith? Here’s how.

I feel like there are lots of sincere people out there just questioning, wondering where God is in the midst of their lives. How he is showing up and working and moving in them. I had a friend say that he thought God existed but that he doesn’t do anything with us or for us – we’re all on our own. I don’t agree. I still have some semblance of hope that God will show up, that he CAN show up if he will just choose to. Maybe I don’t see it yet, but I have hope that I will. But see, the Bible tells me that each person is GIVEN faith. I don’t earn it, I don’t make it, I don’t know where to find more of it, I am given it. Don’t believe me?

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

So maybe I have a problem with that. If God gives me faith and I don’t have the ability to somehow conjure up more, what if this amount of faith isn’t enough? At the small group I go to, I keep telling everybody there that I want God to just show up in my life in some tangible, real, unmistakable way. As I was being prayed for one night my buddy looks at me and says – what if God doesn’t do this for you? Will it be enough to just believe? And I’m like…that is stupid. STUPID! Frustrating! No, it’s clearly not enough for me right now! I’m effing struggling over here and could use a little encouragement! If God would show up to a putz like Gideon, who was a damn coward and had to ask God to do some miracles (yes, plural) for him before he would march in to battle – why wouldn’t he show up to someone like me? I’m just trying to figure this ridiculous joke of a life out and am looking for a reason to live my life with purpose. How about a little nudge, God?

So I most certainly am not being spurred on to more faith by the church – whatever the hell it is they are doing. And I’m not finding that God is showing up in my life when I ask. And apparently I’ve been given a measure of faith that is supposed to sustain me but yet I find I am drowning in my doubts. How is this not a dilemma of faith?

Even those who, by faith, walked out into something new – planted a church, moved all over the country to help others, gave of themselves towards something they thought they knew…here we are now struggling more than anything to rediscover that faith that spurred us on to start in the first place. I don’t want the faith I had when I was in high-school. I’d like a faith that is relevant to me right now.

But I guess I’m supposed to wait in the soup-line of faith, hoping, like Oliver Twist, that the mean cook will give me another spoonful because I’m still hungry.

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4 comments on “Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

  1. wes fleming
    September 18, 2012

    Yo. Stay in line with me and I will point out some choice bread crumbs under the table.

  2. Andy Race
    September 19, 2012

    I apologize ahead of time: this is not meant to comfort, or connect with the very real emotion you are experiencing, and expressing in this post.

    However, on the “you’ve-got-me-thinking” side… I’m wondering about the role that perception plays in our understanding and experience of faith in God. What does our perception of Him have to do with faith in Him?

    What would the utter absence of God in our lives be like? What would it feel like? Do we suppose that we can fully know His presence? If we cannot, then are we really capable of detecting His absence?

    My musing brings me to the (somewhat pointed) question: What if faith in God is not dependent on my ability to perceive Him or His work in my life? What if living a life of faith in God is not quantifiable, in any kind of satisfying way?

    I don’t mean to repeat something trite about faith, like, “faith is faith – you just gotta trust.” But I wonder, if we – perhaps – simply do not possess the ability to “step outside” the life of faith, and evaluate it fairly in order to determine it’s progress or effectiveness… We may be incapable of knowing what tangible, real ways God is present in our lives.

    Is it possible, that God’s grace may be entirely and completely effective, and yet remain – for us – intangible and imperceptible?

  3. ryjohn
    September 20, 2012

    Andy,
    Though I can see your point and appreciate the thought behind it, I think I would say it’s but mere speculation in the face of a subject that is in it’s purest form, subjective.
    Would you say personally that you have (or have not) experienced God in some tangible way in your own life? Been able to see his hand at work, perhaps felt something move or even had a vision or something? I’d say these are tangible revelations of God in someone’s life – but not everybody has them. Some have more, some have less, some maybe have none.The only way to judge faith in an objective format is to compare subjective experiences next to each other, which is in essence what I’ve done here. I see how other people experience God and how that effects their ability to rely on faith…it acts as some kind of stabilizer to an otherwise confusing subject to grasp…and I see that I don’t have what others are saying they experience. I don’t have any reason to doubt what others say they experience, and others seem to have an easier time with faith than I currently do, so my natural conclusion is that I am missing something.
    Maybe God is so overly present in the inner workings of my life that I just take his presence for granted – but even in that case, he would be doing the same in other people also…but then there is that something extra. The tingle. The vision. The swooning or whatever. It’s there. Or maybe they have an incredible ability to appreciate what God is doing in them even in the mundane. Whatever it is – I am lacking that perceptive ability or something – I want it. But can I earn it? I don’t know. It doesn’t appear that way…

  4. paulmanansala
    September 27, 2012

    Not easy.
    Glad you’re holding on though.

    So, i remember a time in my life when God pushed my faith’s limits at the time. I mean, I was an 18-year-old kid going to seminary but He pushed/tested me right to the point where my faith was dangling off a cliff.

    I’m not gonna say, “God will show up. don’t worry!” – because that sucks and no one wants to hear that in the midst of this kind of struggle.

    I think all I can say is… commit to do all that you can to position yourself to hear from Him and experience Him again. I guess I’m not referring to actions… I’m referring to your heart. It takes a deep level of humility and trust to (almost blindly) position your before God with hope that He will show up some how.

    I’m not sure if that makes sense or if it’s practical, but that’s what helped me in that time of my life. It would’ve been a lot easier if God just showed up and I cried and broke down after some clutch sermon or something – like a quick fix.

    I remember desiring that, but instead God took His time. I continued to read/study the Bible… continued to pray.. even though I’d be overwhelmed with questions and doubts at those times. You used the word ‘drowning.’

    And when I continued to pray and read, I didn’t feel like I was kidding myself or going against what I really thought (the doubts). I just remember committing to humbling myself and submitting to whatever I thought He desired of me. I remember it being very tough.

    I don’t think it’s the same with what you’re going through.. because we’re in a different stage of life at this point. But it brought me to those lessons I learned at that season of my life.

    BTW – thankfully God showed up to me at that time. Looking back, He did so perfectly and in perfect timing.

    God is God, He is good and He knows what He’s doing. I don’t know what He’s trying to do, but yeah.. keep going man.

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This entry was posted on September 18, 2012 by in Ryan's Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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