“Willing” Your Way Back to Faith

Psalm 77 is a place of faith for me. I read someone willing their way back to faith.

They have been seeking God continuously, but to no avail. God seems to be silent.

Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion? (v.9)

But, then, a choice is made.

To this I will appeal… (v. 10)

The choice is to remember the deeds of the Lord, even if it is miracles long ago (v. 11).

It’s not wrong to feel the abandonment. It’s not wrong to complain about that emptiness. The temptation, however, is to stay in that downward spiral and just throw up our hands and say, “Yep. God’s abandoned me on this one.”

The complaint is to God. (Probably to other people as well, but he’s not afraid to take this right to God and lay it right there.)

But the solution is from God. It is the choice to draw on what God has done. It’s a hard choice. We don’t always want to remember his faithfulness. We kind of like (or really like) the complaining, at least for a time.

When my wife and I were getting ready to leave Bible college I was looking for a place of ministry. Through some contacts, I came to talk to a district official who set up an interview and preaching opportunity in his district. This was the day before cell phones and Al Gore’s internet, so for two weeks we were out of contact with the district official and the sectional presbyter who was to set up the weekend for our interview.

Full of faith (on my part) we rolled into the small town on a Saturday night. My wife was not impressed at all.

We got to the motel and called the number we had been given to talk to one of the leaders in the church. She then informed me that they had tried to get in touch with me but didn’t have a good number (we had been on the road for two weeks) and “they” had decided not to try me out. But since I had made the trip I could preach on Sunday morning as a guest.

Young, full of faith, and more than a little full of myself, I was devastated. We sat in that motel room and cried. We complained. I probably hated ministry a couple of times in that evening of misery.

Then… we had fun. We began naming off those who love us. We started with our parents and worked our way through the list of people we knew. By the time we had spent a few minutes saying, “Well… so and so still loves us…” we were laughing so hard we were crying in a new way.

We willed ourselves back to faith. I decided I would preach the next day and just give them the best I had, letting them know they had missed a great opportunity. It was fun.

We have pain. We have feelings of abandonment. We mourn. But we can also make a turn. We can choose to look to the faithfulness of God and begin to see once again he is with us.

He IS faithful. He has not left us. When our attention is turned fully to him, the opportunity for faith is much greater.


We’re Never Going to be Happy… Or Get It Right

We keep getting books and articles on what is wrong with this church or that church.

With the Catholic Church about to select a new pope, we get the rehashing of what is wrong with the Catholic Church.

So, here is my conclusion: we’re just not happy. 

Someone may say, “I like this church tradition because they allow _________________________, but don’t acknowledge _______________.”

Or, let’s just say “X” and “Y” and sound like mathematicians.

No matter what, we’ve got problems. And no matter what, we’re not going to get it “right.” 

You know why? Because you’re still here! 

You. Me. All of us. We’re HUMAN.

I grew up in the Assemblies of God. There are a lot of GOOD things about my tribe. Hard to believe, but YES. For one thing, we actually do something the Catholic Church has never done: ordain women.

But problems? Sure.

Am I going anywhere? Not really.

Why? Because somewhere else I pick will have a different set of problems and it’ll take me another 40 years to catch on to their quirks.

Sometimes the tradition does shift too hard and I understand there are realistic reasons for “leaving.” But with all our complaining today, I think it’s just because we’re basically not happy. And that’s within us… not within our church.

So… let the griping continue…