Outside The Circle

Snow is falling outside, quiet and soft.  I only wish that the thoughts in my head and feelings in my heart were the same.  Alas they are not.  And thankfully I have this venue to pen them and give life to so that I may put them to rest as well. 
 
A while back I was confronted with an enormous opportunity.  No world travel plans or job offers, simply an invitation into a discussion regarding my most favorite book.  The Bible.  Only the greatest Love story ever told.  This conversation was different though.  There was questioning.  Challenges laid down.  Declarations of not understanding God and His motives.  Some questions I truly did not know how to answer.  Nor that I would dare answer for the depth of pain that sparked these questions was not something I could speak to.  Hurts that were ingrained into hearts and lies told that I could not un-tell. 
 
 At the first sign of confrontation I tend to run.  Maybe it's that fight or flight instinct that overtakes me.  Whatever the case I didn't flee this time.  Instead I placed myself within listening range and I did exactly that.  I listened.  Took in what was being said and prayed fiercely for the Holy Spirit to descend.  And quickly would have been preferred.  The conversation took an interesting turn and more parties joined in.  Each one chiming in with their opinion and each one giving the status quo answer.  You know the one you would expect to hear, filled with Christian lingo and Jesus words.  I'm not downplaying the effectiveness or intent of their rationale.  Only making an observation that the ones they were speaking to weren't buying it.  Frankly, neither was I.  Not because it lacked truth but because I craved more. 

I have been on the other side.  Sometimes still am.  The one questioning, wrestling with my faith and the legitimacy of it all.  I knew, know, the text book answers.  Which words to spill out and float on pedestals.  Never have those soothed my soul.  And I had a hunch they just wouldn't do here.  Now before you jump to conclusions and go on thinking that I gave some convicting argument for the validity of the Bible, or God's creation plan, let me be clear in saying that I didn't.  Nor did I even come close.  What I did say when asked bluntly if I believed in the stories the Bible told was that yes, I most certainly did.  From start to finish.  That is all.  I suppose that old fight or flight instinct kicked in. 

And then, well then I promptly excused myself from the circle and that is where I am today.  Outside the circle.  That conversation was over two months ago and it has not left me.  The questions, the participants and my choice.  My choice to not speak up.  To not defend or answer to.  I have often thought about what I would have said.  Possibly what I should have said.  So here today in this space, I'll try to explain what I wanted to that day. 

There is a God. Amen and Amen.  I know this to the core of my being.  He made me. Designed me before I even "was".  So says Psalm 139, one of my favorites.  From start to finish, all 24 verses, but especially these, v.13-14,
"For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

That is the lump sum of it. I believe there is a God because I have no choice, logically not to.  And if I believe He is real, then I believe His book is truth.  All of it.  Filled with stories and works and wonders and revelation.  Glory be. 

I was pulled from the pit.  Hope reached down and lifted me up.  Brushed me off, made me clean and gave me hope.  Redeemed.  His is the only love I am not required to work for.  There is no ladder to climb.  No list of good deeds to be accomplished.  Not a single thing I have done or will do can change that.  Him, there on the cross is the only reason I have life.  His raising from the dead is the means for my eternity.  A narrow road.  Grace poured down while  His blood spilled over. 

For me, that is enough.  For others I know it isn't.  I can't change that.  What I am able to do is share how He has changed me.  What work that kind of Love has done in my life.  I won't say that there is no darkness anymore.  I refuse to lie and say there is never despair.  There is friends.  And maybe that is just what I should have said before I left the circle. 

Well that and this too.

We will face trials.  There will be unfathomable circumstances we encounter.  Whether personally or those that we view from the outside.  It will happen.  There is bound to be hurt and anguish, suffering and loss.  It is a fallen world we live in.  Sin is ever-present.  Believer and non alike.  That is a common thread.  So those choices we make and those others make are done so in free will.  Natural disasters will continue to occur and there will be recipients of bad news.  Humans will decide to inflict pain and unimaginable devastation upon one another.  At the end of the day though I don't know how to work through that without God.  For me peace comes in knowing the Author of the universe knows.
 
He knows the victims.  The lost.  He knows the widows.  The orphans.  He knows the sinners.  The desperate ones.  He knows the poor.  The scared.  He knows.

He knows them all friends. 

More so those "things" that happen are not a result or punishment for our choices.  Granted, there are natural consequences for our actions.  As I heard this morning, "we are all just one decision away from stupid".  Maybe you will find some levity in that.  Or maybe not.  Either way.  I prefer, rather, I place my trust in a God who knows.  In His omniscience He can see the before and after and even in the during.  He would leave 99 sheep for the 1 that strayed and is lost.  And He pursues those that don't know.  Let that sink in just a bit. 

With that I am at a loss.  I can't argue as though a Theologian.  My life is messy and my heart cluttered.  There are days I am straining for breath and willing myself to take one more step on that narrow path.  And on those days if I were in that circle once again I hope that I'd have the courage to say so.  I want so badly to speak the language of Love.  To do so for the glory of the kingdom.  Not mine.  This is my love story to share.  It may not answer your inquiries.  Probably won't come close, but it is my feeble attempt to spread some hope in a world desperate to believe in something.  Those looking for answers and asking questions. 

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure..."
Hebrews 6:19





2 Response to "Outside The Circle"

  1. Laurie G Says:

    Beautiful, my sweet friend... beautiful. Raw, honest... filled with assurance and hope. And a sweet touch to my soul today because of all that. Thank you.

  2. LKH Says:

    Laurie,

    Thank you for your words, so encouraging and much appreciated.

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