its complicated

Saturday, 30 March 2013

There are some aspects of my faith that are just hard.

There. I said it.

It's hard to be a Christian sometimes. Not in the sense of persecution and suffering. Not in my country, not yet, anyway. Not in the sense of morality (although that is hard, but that's another post altogether).

No. Sometimes, it's just hard in the sense of understanding it all, emotionally and intellectually. The women I admire the most - and I'm lucky to be surrounded by them, women older and wiser than myself - are the women that have a simple faith. They never doubt God. They never question Him. In the difficult times, they don't wonder where He is or what on earth He's doing. They just lean in closer and wait. Wait.

The problem with me is, I want to know. I want to understand. I want to question and probe and poke around until I know every answer and solve every puzzle. I'm learning fast that God isn't like that. God isn't just a textbook, waiting to be deciphered by people that ask the right questions. He is more than that. More than my feeble brain. More than the most brilliant, intelligent, capable minds in the world. So I can ask question after question and never ever get to the end of Him, never get to the bottom of the mystery.

Sometimes this makes me feel like doing this:

Then I dig deeper and I think about things I've read or heard other Christians say, and things I've said and done that do not, in any way, accurately reflect the beautiful complex truth of my faith and I feel like doing this:

(Apologies for the cheesy photos. In my head they were cool. Then I kept laughing while Chris took them).

I'm reading Mere Christianity by CS Lewis at the moment (it's been a while since I've had my spirit and my mind so excited about a book I've read) and he says this:

'It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of - all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain - and, of course, you find that what we call 'seeing a table' lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. A child saying a child's prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not - and the modern world usually is not - if you want to go on and ask what is really happening - then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.'

That's the brilliance - and the frustration - of life with Jesus. It's more than a set of simple beliefs and moral codes. It's ... more. There are aspects of my faith - issues of the spirit, of heavenly realms, of warfare and blood and sacrifice and miracles, that I will never truly understand, because they are beyond me. I can see glimpses, but never the whole. There are aspects of my faith, too, that I find hard. Parts of the Bible, words of God, that leave me in a moral dilemma, scratching my head and pondering. There are things about following God that hurt a little bit. And there are things that Christians have (maybe mistakenly) said or done that make me wince.

But there we go. Life with God can be complicated. But it's always beautiful and right.

Why do I have faith in something I can't see? Because it wouldn't be faith if I could fully see it.

Does it mean I just give up? Pursue something that's easier to cope with? No. Because I firmly believe this - life following Jesus - is right. And because I love the mystery. I love that God is bigger and better than anything I know. Even if it sometimes gives me a headache.

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