Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ye Shall Know the Truth

I haven't written in months--not that I haven't wanted to write, but I guess more directly, I haven't had much to say. I've had questions. Lots and lots of questions, lately. I did my time in a Bible school and learned all the right answers, but in recent years, I've had questions based out of real life, not theory. The kind of questions I'm referencing are those that no theology major can answer, no book can satisfy, no degree can squelch, and frankly, they are birthed in the streets of life rather than some textbook with yellowed pages. When first we married, Jeff and I bought a Victorian house that was built in the 1870's and because the laundry was in the unfinished, damp and otherwise unused basement, I was forced to frequent that area of the house. It was there that I could see a few cracks in the foundation. A firm foundation it was, but time had revealed a few spots where no matter how great the builder, there were now small cracks. They weren't of major concern--in fact the house will probably stand until the rapture--but they did exist. And only time had revealed them, and only those with an intimate knowledge of the house would ever understand their presence because from the street, the house looked like any other. Those cracks are much like my questions. They have appeared over time--as life has adjusted and settled and weathered more than one storm. My foundation remains firm, but there are these moments of punctuation where I ask, where I wonder, where I am willing to admit, I just don't get some things. And I've grown to understand that pat answers and the ones that come from cookie cutters are for the faint of heart and true questions are for those who have the courage to stand in the face of culture and tradition and history and say, with all respect, "I see how it is, how it has been for the last century or ten centuries and I'm not sure I agree. I'm not sure it's right. And I need to dig deeper. And I'm okay with that." So, over these last months, I've been asking. I've been wondering. Reading. Thinking. Raising my kids and cooking and cleaning--those elite activities that don't pause for questions. And I have a few answers and a whole lot more questions. It seems a treacherous journey in some respects--dangerous to question, to speculate outside of the box in which I've spent the majority of my Christian life. Most people just aren't comfortable with questions. Like those crazy 11 X 14 photographs you always get free with the package, questions just don't seem to fit neatly into our Christian worlds. A while back I told someone that I was questioning the institution of traditional church, for example, and they offered me a rather blank expression--maybe it was a deer in headlights kind of face--and said, "Yeah, I've read books about things like that." I wanted to say, "Books, huh? Well, I'm living it." The thing is I don't think questions really bothered Jesus. He met with Nicodemus after all. And Job had just a small bit of cud he wanted to chew with his Creator. Of course there was Saint Francis of Assissi, a courageous monk who took the time to think through the corruption that had begun to permeate the monastic order of his day to the extent that he was even imprisoned for a time. And then there was Martin Luther--the very father of reformation and therefore a man unafraid to question. It is good company that I feel I am keeping these days. I can tell you with confidence that questions don't leave me comfortable. What if the answers I find force me to make different life choices? What if the answers I find don't line up with my friends' thoughts? What if they contradict what I have taught my own children? Or God forbid this one, what if the things I come to believe are not the same as my spouse? Ohmygosh! What if???? Yeah. What if? Well, I don't know. But, this I do know. My God remains greater. Greater than the sum of all my questions. Greater indeed. Today, on my walk, I soaked in the ruby leaves of the dogwood and the amber of the poplar trees and then, in my garden, I held the delicate petals of the autumn peas and couldn't help but remember. He's still Creator. This much I know. He's still the one who formed a fish that looks like tin foil and a stingray with polkadots. He's still amazing. He's still the one who gave my eldest an unquenchable thirst for football and books and my youngest a hankering for a sketch pad and pencil. He's still the one who invented the gravity that holds my feet to the ground and He's still the one who tucks the beach in with the blanketing tides. He's still the one who striped the zebra and dotted the dalmation. He remains Creator. He remains Savior. He remains sovereign. And, I think it is in fact, He who invites me to question. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that my questions find their true source in His Truth within me. Perhaps they are his invitation to know not what I believe in, but WHO I believe in. Perhaps the questions are like the crumbs of Hansel and Gretel, left to draw me to The Truth. After all, it was Jesus who said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. Read with me: Proverbs 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. Pray With Me: Lord, now we see through a glass only partially, but someday, we will see clearly. In the meantime, Father, grant me the courage to seek Your Face, and the wisdom to accept the answers you send. Cause me to know you more. May I not be filled with greater knowledge, but rather emptied of useless knowledge and filled to fullness with Your heart. Amen.