The cold wind nipped at my face and hands. The air was thin and my breathing deep. Beneath my feet was rock; around the rock, vulnerable, ancient tundra. As far as I could see were range after range of mountains – bare of trees. I was above the timberline, at 14,000+ feet elevation, near the highest point of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. I have been many BEAUTIFUL places, and I inhale the beauty of trees and water and mountains like my life’s breath. But even without trees, and somehow beyond the sheer visual input around me, this was the most beautiful place I have ever been! In the thin air, where my daughters become altitude-sick, and my husband’s heart slows him down, I was energized! It was a different, higher perspective than I had ever known! Magnificent! I RAN up the summit and scaled the rock. Raised my hands to the perfect blue sky, and said “God….can I hear you NOW?!”
I have been asking, “HOW do you believe?!” After you HAVE believed, but learned that what you believed could not be trusted, could no longer be believed. You have said, “just believe.”
I have been talking and writing about this with you and Graeme Schultz since December. Graeme has spent untold hours and many thousands of words ever so kindly sharing his faith and talking through understandings of Christ, faith, God, Adam and Eve, suffering, the nature and effect of faith, crucifixion…always back to Christ and the cross. He didn’t blow away my doubts, or even chip away, or refute, or prove them false. They began to melt away, ever so slowly, as I was able to trust the patient, quiet thoughts of a friend in dialogue that conveyed, “Rest in Christ. Trust Him. Let Him fill your screen. He’s that good. Expand your view. The cross is that powerful! This is how it works for me. This is what has changed for me. This is how I see things now.”
I read or recalled scripture, info on the origins of the Bible, intention and prayer, time and the universe, and most of an interesting book, “God’s Lunatics” by Michael Largo. Added to years of believing and living out….I don’t know what it was , searching, and loss. I didn’t push…stayed open, but not to others who push. My conclusions? There are arguments and counter-arguments about EVERYTHING! No two Christians (or any other group), even with strict doctrines or analytical criteria, have identical beliefs.
We ALL pick and choose what we can and will believe, for myriad personal reasons. Which verses we elevate to law, and which we reduce to analogy. Which sources we trust. How much we really BELIEVE we can hear from God Himself. We will never PROVE it absolutely, whatever IT is. Misunderstanding even when different words state the same idea, or illumination when the change of phrase makes them suddenly “believable.” Yes, I could believe the wrong thing. Yes, I could be disappointed again. Yes, I could miss it. But then again, I am already missing too much by living in profound mistrust. Starting with my basic God-fact, the magnificence of creation through my senses and theories via science, I have asked and answered enough practical and scriptural questions, laid ENOUGH doubts to rest. And I WANT to believe. It just had to be something I CAN believe. Someone I CAN trust. Beyond expectations and rules. More about the Person and the reality beyond my senses and understanding. And the beginnings of thoughts about how powerful BELIEF or FAITH really may be. A different, higher perspective than I’ve known. Magnificent!
There was no jump from a cliff. No burning bush, or voice from heaven. Still no blinding light, or overwhelming sense of love. No deep knowing. No tears. No choir, or brush of angel’s wings. No moment of desperation. No flood of warmth.
I wrote this to Graeme a couple of days ago:
“G, you need to know this: I found myself responding to Joe Pote’s post (Redeemed!) with conviction about who Christ is, and what He did on the cross. From the stance of a believer. Surprised myself! I find myself riding my waves or feeling fear and anxiety, and say to myself, rather as I’ve heard you say…”wait, this can’t be right…this was fixed 2000 years ago…the reality is the hybrid creation Jesus/Diane that I’ve become.” I started by testing out how that feels, whether I could visualize and believe it…and I guess I do. I’m considering that the earth manifestation in blood, and painful nerve endings, flesh, suffering, torture – perhaps even of crucifixion, may….I don’t know… no words, sorry. Something just outside my ability to get to it! But I’m open to even the cosmic meaning and consequence in that…which is what you grasp so clearly without the recoil I feel so strongly.
I find myself WANTING to believe more than I fear to believe, as I carefully and quietly (almost sneaky as to not trigger myself!) set aside my beefs and disagreements, hoping that as I rest, I will understand better, but through loving union not a spirit of intellectual debate. And I am perceiving, sometimes almost feeling, the love. My past experiences with religion are becoming irrelevant to my beliefs – fading in my mind like images from a scary movie. I find myself more interested in talking with God than talking about Him. And when Christianity does come up (as it has with atheist Emily, and my nephew and niece), I find myself responding carefully – saying “maybe it is like this…” as I describe some (safer) aspect of our conversations or your book. I have previously been incapable of sustaining faith but, as you have said, it doesn’t require years of restoration but rather turning my gaze back to Jesus who will never have left me, even if I am being freaked or inconsistent myself. And the renewing of my mind will continue. And I’m feeling traces of the security and freedom you describe.”
So quiet I can hear. A different view than I’ve known. Worth believing. Magnificent!
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A few Diane-style references:
Hardwired to Christ by Graeme Schultz
God’s Lunatics by Michael Largo
The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert (Don’t do an auto-trash on this because it sounds new age. A lot of good stuff on prayer, and the power of our thoughts and words. As in BELIEVE, bless, heal, pray, do good. Points TO God, or away, depending on YOUR paradigm. I suggest take what you want and leave the rest.)
More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell