You are kind and good and just and I refuse to say anything other than Who You are. I repeated that line laying on my face in a small apartment in Colorado, when it felt like the fabric of my being was being shredded within me and left to flail in hurricane force winds that had been unleashed in my life. My nails digging deep into the fibers, gripping the carpet like my life depended on it and in some ways, it did.
No matter what. I will not say anything other than Who You are. You are kind and faithful and true and good and loving and present and You are Who You say You are. No matter what happens or what I feel. I will not doubt You.
It was a dark night of the soul that lasted months. But it was a bright noonday stroll in a garden eating ice cream compared to the last three years. This post is about to get really real so if you are not into raw reality you might want to come back later. OK, I warned you.
You see many of you read the first bit and were probably like, “wow, that’s some kind of amazing faith. Well done for not giving in to those pesky feelings, for not trusting those unstable emotions.”
But actually… that wasn’t faith at all.
It was denial, independence and fear masquerading as piety, trust and faith. But it was as close a thing to faith that I had that the time and God in His kindness meets us right where we are.
I was so scared God wouldn’t be with my facades crumbling in honest pain so I forced myself to stand in dishonest faith. I have told so many God would prefer our honest, real doubts lived in relationship with Him to a religious faith lived apart from relationship with Him. But, then, when I was faced with my own pain and doubt and anger and broken places, I just couldn’t let go of the form. I had great theory. But I didn’t know Him as well as I thought.
I patched up my broken places, pulled up my bootstraps and got back in the rhythm of being faithful. I moved a world away to Africa. I knew enough to know I was going not to fix anything but to learn and love and, well, be faithful. So often we are admonished to be “faithful” as if our performance is some magic outworking of faith. When Jesus wants us to be faith-full, filled with His faith that has literally nothing to do with us at all.
I look back on the last 10 years and see so much of God’s grace on everything. The fact I even said yes wasn’t even my yes, it was an outworking of His yes and His grace in me.
I went through a season in India before Colorado where it was the first time I could recall I heard crickets when I prayed. A time of His silence, where I was convinced He was kitting on the backside of the universe. And then I went through that time above in Colorado, where some of what I put trust in started to be stripped away. And then there were the last 3-4 years.
Years of loss and pain SO profound of so many things gone at once, I couldn’t even find the breath to say anything at all. Let alone pray. Or anything else. Was what I walked through God? No. It was the product of broken humanity, the fragmented cosmos, evil, betrayal and things we were never intended to have to walk through. Does God redeem it, transform it, heal it, transfigure it? Absolutely. But His faithfulness to do so has had nothing to do with my faith because for the first time I can ever recall I began to wonder if I had any left.
But I found at the end of my faith, it isn’t about my faith at all. It’s about His. And He would rather meet me in my very real questions and doubts, in the raw mess of my broken places than He ever would watch me try and be strong and faithful in His name apart from Him.
So be encouraged. You don’t have to “faith it” till you make it. God is big enough to take your anger, and pain, and hurt, and doubts and questions without causing Him to change how He feels about you at all. He simply wants to be with you right where you are right now. And He loves you far too much to leave you stuck there.