Faith is not blind. It sees. Where we falter, it renews.
I have always been fascinated by dogma. Fundamentalism is something of a preoccupation of mine. So much so that I used to equate those two things with Faith and in particular following Jesus.
I used to think that there was a requirement to believe “all the things” (and believe all the things -literally.) I thought there was a requirement to be a blind, thoughtless follower, a perfect follower in order to be a faithful follower.
By proxy, this really turned me off to “following.” I avoided it wherever I could.
I was not going to be a slave to any dogma, nor ritual, nor commit to blind obedience to anyone or anything.
I took pride in this rebellion. An arrogant and condescending pride. I immediately boxed myself in with the “free thinkers” of this world. The truly noble breed of mavericks who had their own philosophy of life, ever-changing and ever maturing. I did not need a compass point, I was the only true north that mattered.
Only the closer I got to what I thought would be freedom, the more shackled I was? I was locked in by my own limitations. I was lost at my lowest points with nowhere to turn but my would be “almighty” self.
Was I loved by others? Yes. Was I happy with myself and confident in my own skin, for the most part, yes? However, just like some worn out cliche or poignant song lyric, I had reached “the end of myself.”
You might call it luck that I was already two or three steps into a community of believers when this day came, but I call it divine intervention. You might say I was searching for answers and in some self-fulfilling prophecy, I had simply found them. Maybe you’re right? Although, if I recall, in those days I was feeling semi-coerced to be in community when my preference was to hang with my wife, dogs, and kids, and/or sit at home on my couch and watch TV or movies instead?
Then the collision happened. I felt a pull and a tug to stop blazing a trail of my own and let a broader community in. What was even more frightening to me was that this community was made up of the very people I had scorned for the better part of my life!
Crash! There I was with the airbag in my face. Not only attending a small group of similarly conflicted people but being asked to lead one. Bang! There I was starting to call out to a God who only weeks prior was a non-entity to me. Screech! The sound of tires and brakes squealing and the metal of my mind being twisted like paper was a cacophony of contradictions.
How could I let go of myself and my loved ones as the center of my universe and give all that over to a figment of these other peoples’ imagination? What was I thinking!? How hypocritical would I feel after years of questioning other people’s faith to suddenly reveal I had become one of these blind believers?
The answer was not anywhere as dramatic as I thought it would be. The answer wasn’t a life where I stopped being me in order to be a follower of Jesus. Ultimately, the answer was not even about blind faith. The answer was all about simply following.
It turns out, much to my delight, that I didn’t have to give up every independent thought or action or desire to be a faithful follower of Jesus. It turns out that it was never about the dogma I thought it was. It turns out that, instead of becoming “less me,” I somehow got to become “more me” than I ever dreamed of?
Where I thought I would be shackled – I was freed.
Where I thought I would be constrained – I was unbridled. (yet somehow also accountable?)
Where I thought I had to dumb down – I became smarter and wiser.
Where I thought I was called to be perfect – I found I was forgiven with Grace so bottomless and everlasting I could not fathom it!
… and yes, where I was lost, at the end of myself, I was indeed found. Well… I was found from my perspective only, because, my friends, the thing I finally had to realize was that I was never truly lost. I was never brazenly doing anything on my own. I was never at the end of anything. I was simply a dead thing waiting to be brought to life by a God who was always by my side waiting patiently for me to ask for a new life.
You may not buy any of this. I can’t ask you to do what I wasn’t willing to do myself. All I can ask is that if you feel that tug. If you feel like you’re reaching the end of yourself. Please follow where it leads you. Start by letting other people in. Let them love you. Let them show you the face of God in their actions, not their dogmatic words and maybe, one day, decide to follow.
I can’t promise you it will be a perfect journey where one day you will be in pain and the next day you will have none. I can’t promise you-you won’t meet up with contradictions that man has put in the way. I can’t even promise you that your faith will be everlasting (although I wish and pray that for you and for me alike.)
What I can promise is a new life.
A life of dull gray dead ends that turn technicolor with Promise and Hope. A life of Love that far exceeds the kinds of love you’ve been experiencing to date. A world changing kind of love. The love of a flawless Father and a forever friend.
I can promise you what I promised at the start. A new lens on life. A new way to see the world. A tireless fountain of renewal.
Love you guys, J