When I talk about God and faith, I do not come at it from an angel of certainty, ‘rightness’ or an attitude of “I’ve arrived so you should get with the Program.” I come at my faith and experience of God rather from points and places of doubt, uncertainty, openness and hope (and not so much on that last one).
It is important to me that I strive for awareness and transparency when speaking and writing and living out spiritual ideas and ideals; people that are honest and messy are much more of turn on to me than people with neat, pat answers. Regardless of where I am in my journey with God, people who are so certain about the rightness of their beliefs have always left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my faith is messier than most. I’m grateful God is as well.
I know my last blog sounds like I’m giving up on God but truthfully what I was trying to communicate is that the “security” of some of the beliefs I have long held as ‘untouchable’ are crumbling away. And in their stead is nothing…for now. That is not to say that I will remain in that place, because like nature, I too abhor a vacuum – an empty vacuous space where nothing exists, not even God. Now I do not confuse the need for emptiness and emptying (what I am going through now a self emptying – kenosis) with vacuous space; one is a process the other is a perpetual state.
Sooner or later that which is dying in me will be resurrected into something new, something more real than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I know God is…and I know God is not done with me yet, this I do trust.
My faith is being peeled back, like an onion, reveling what is and is not real, what is dead and what lives.
Rob Bell, in his wonderfully clarifying work What We Talk About When We Talk About God, said that his experience of God is summed up in three little, yet transformative, words: with, for, ahead.
Bell sums up my messy faith by challenging my ‘tribal’ conceptions of God, namely that God is on our side, for us and us alone, out to smash all those who are not part of my tribe. I have grown weary of a God like this. This tribal God is no longer a God worth loving or following; this tribal God is more like a favorite football team than a eternal loving Being.
In letting go of my pedantic and tribal God, I am left with nothing and that nothingness I can begin to experience God anew, fresh with child-like eyes. This God of which Bell speaks that is with me always and in All Ways, in all things and through all things; this God who is for me, not as in on my side or to defend my POV, but for me as in an advocate, pure divine fidelity with me through thick and thin, in holiness and messiness. I like this God that is not tribal but ahead of me, ever expanding, opening new worlds of inner and outer discovery.
Having a God like this allows me not only to embrace my messy faith, but allows God to be messy (with me) as well. This God who is with us (Emmanuel), this God who gets down into the mud with me, being with me in my messiness, not judging or condemning – just loving.
I need a God as such. This God is one who is intimate yet unknowable; understandable yet unfathomable; tender yet transcendent.
That is the kind of God I can be into…one who is into (and in) me.