“I was simmering, simmering, simmering, then Emerson brought me to a boil.” That was Walt Whitman writing about his literary hero. And that was me holding on, white-knuckling the faith through various doubts, when along came a whopper and I couldn’t hold on anymore.
All along the message had been to stand firm, finish well, even in pain remember what you believe and don’t follow the temptation to change. Painting the picture of a narrow road with many diversions, both deep and shallow, with any variation leading to being lost.
I felt I couldn’t grip any more – as Michael Gungor describes, being in a swiftly moving river and grabbing hold of protruding tree roots for dear life, then finally… letting go. Scared. Unsure. Never been here before. Going against all prior advice.
But for the first time wondering if God might be also in the river I was now washing down. Could a living-moving-breathing God-in-Spirit use a traumatic event to show me things anew?
But for the first time wondering if God might be also in the river I was now washing down
How did the promise, “Behold I am making all things new” speak into keeping things the way they always were? Is newness a one-time event? Isn’t each day a new creation: a sunset or snowfall or conversation that has never existed in the same way before? (What kind of amazing is a Creator who puts into motion a world that is perpetually new!?)
In a future post I’ll write more about what I was doubting and what is new. But today, I’m only recounting the experience. Here’s one way to visualize it: when our dog was a puppy we trained her using a standard dog crate-kennel that’s completely closed with a wire mesh door. I have an image (and don’t take this too far) of myself growing up in the safety of this comforting and predictable evangelical kennel, complete with messages about fearing the outside world. But enough trips outside caused a conflict when the world didn’t look as described – it was wildly variegated and contained a wealth of God’s beauty in the eyes and lives of others who didn’t follow our “brand” of faith.
When my simmering became a boil, desperation took over and I opened the door.
The fear of staying became greater than the fear of leaving.
When I stepped through the windowed door, there was fresh air out here. And it turns out the backyard of faith is big, and there are plenty of other kennels scattered about with doors hanging open.
I could hold onto my faith in God without it looking as before. I could still see the comfort and safety inside and a part of me missed that. But I can’t un-smell the freedom. As Switchfoot sings (slanging Roosevelt’s words), “Fear is all I got left to fear”.
He is making all things new. I don’t know the road ahead, but I know that I cannot stay where I am and I do not go alone.