One of the side effects of being a passion driven person, such as myself, is a drive and pursuit of learning when it comes to what you are passionate about. That coupled with my slightly stubborn personality makes it a rare occurrence when someone truly challenges my beliefs or way of thinking. I am confident in what I believe about grace and, in turn, who I believe God to be, that core will never be shaken because I know it to be truth. There are, however, rare and beautiful times when I find myself in belief challenging conversations.
Now, when I say belief challenging it’s important to know what I don’t mean by that. I don’t mean discussions in which one side is attacking the other due to a difference of beliefs. I don’t mean a discussion where one or both parties call the other names (i.e. heretic, blasphemer, or sinner). I definitely don’t mean conversations in which the Bible is used to beat down instead of build up the other person. Those are not belief challenging conversations those are dysfunctional conversations where God accomplishes nothing and Satan accomplishes everything.
I crave belief challenging conversations. Ones that are filled with extreme thoughts and new outlooks. Ones that make me go home and comb the tattered pages of my Bible researching. Ones that leave me without a definite answer. Ones that end in hugs and thankfulness for differing opinions. Oh, how I love those discussions!
I felt so privileged to get to have one of those very conversations this weekend with some, much smarter than me, fantastic people. We sat around the table at Chick-fil-a talking about deep subjects that none of us agreed on and all tried to figure out some of the more mysterious things about God together. None of us gasped at the others’ crazy statements about God. No one was aghast at someone else’s challenging comments. We all left with new things to think about and we all left just as loved by the others as when we sat down.
I drove home that night pensive and excited; I had so many new things to learn about. That’s one of the wonderfully frightening things about God, I think: That there is always more to learn about Him and that He never chastises the one who comes looking. I really love that about Him.
I want desperately for everyone to experience that, for everyone to have their thinking about God challenged and their passion for Him awakened. The uncomfortable side to that is hearing His voice, once again, call me to be the one who creates spaces of learning for others around me. We’ve been in this ongoing battle, me and Him, as He beckons me to ministry. The struggle of wanting everyone to experience exciting conversations about grace and God but feeling inadequate to initiate them rages within me. Usually our conversations go something like this:
GOD: “Hey, Jess, let’s go do this thing!”
ME: “Umm.. no thanks. I’m not really qualified for all that leading people and teaching them about You stuff.”
GOD: “Sure you are! You’ll be great! Do you want me to like knight you or something? I can do that. I’m God.”
ME: “No thanks. Besides, women aren’t supposed to be pastors and leaders and such, didn’t you read that part in Your book?”
GOD: “You never were very good at following the rules.”
ME: “I have NO idea what you're talking about! *ahem* I don’t know… I feel like people wouldn’t really want to have me as a leader, I’m kinda a mess!
GOD: “I’ll bring some towels.”
So it goes, the epic standoff. The truth of the matter is that I have plenty of good excuses but not really any good reasons. My head knows that He’s got it all taken care of, that He knows what He’s doing calling a mess like me to be His voice. The truth is I’m just afraid.
Afraid of not being very good at it but still loving it.
Afraid of being so excited to lead that I turn around and no one is following me.
Afraid that I’ll build and ark and none of the animals will show up.
It doesn’t make much sense really, God has a pretty good track record when it comes to putting butts in the seats. I think it might be about time that I stopped doubting my ability and start trusting His. Wow, I squirmed in my seat a little just typing that. What kind of person would I be, after all, if I called others to bravery while I cowered away from my calling? The kind of person I really dislike, that’s who!
So… with shaking hands, witnessed by all you wonderful people who read my ramblings, I am jumping onto this crazy ride without seat belts. I think it’s time I saddled up even though I’m scared to death (John Wayne would be proud). It’s time to forsake my comfort zone for a new adventure. Anyone wanna tag along for the ride?