When faith spans a few decades, then what we used to think often doesn’t match what we think now.
It’s more like a kaleidoscope with shifting patterns, where gritty grains of truth remain the same, sticking solidly to the sides.
But nothing seems as safe, familiar or comfortable as it used to be.
Our inner landscape widens, our theology telescoping to view concepts we’d rejected before.
Mixed as it may appear to be, it becomes a composite whole when seen through a lens of grace.
[bctt tweet=”Faith evolves, grows, stretches like elastic when tugged this way and that by circumstances.”]
Faith isn’t meant to be stagnant or stuck in a time-warp. There will be changes that alter us like passing years leave folds on our faces.
We’re people on pilgrimage, kicking up dust while wandering in the wilderness, endlessly seeking our heart’s true home.
How to describe living with the challenge of a continually renewing perspective, an out-of-sorts faith?
Especially a faith like mine: started in tambourine-shaking Sally Army quarters, birthed in Charismatic corners, anchored in Anglicanism, blended by Baptists, steeped in Evangelicalism, stirred by Word of Faith speakers, charmed by Contemplatives, rooted in the Rule and made-over by mystics and Monasticism.
I thought, prayed and wrote, pretty much as I do for every blog post.
And what came out was as concise as I could get it, my long faith journey stripped to bare poetic bones.
I used to think.. but now I think…
I used to think…that church was a place you were at because you’d finally got your act together.
You were sorted and saved with a ticket in your hand for beyond the grave.
It was where you decided and declared by a 4-step-sign-here process your eternal devotion to your Saviour Jesus.
And gave no room for aberration from the thinking of your chosen denomination, because some would frown and look askance if you gave some credence to how others danced and clapped and said, “Hallelujah!” instead of reverence, silence, know-your-place or we’ll have to eschew you.
I used to think mystics were way beyond my ken, and once in their thrall you wouldn’t return to the fold of your old sheep pen.
Little did I understand the real power of a praying friend or the way a Benedictine monk’s Rule would lead me closer to Home again.
Now.. I think church is a hospital for the hurting, for those still in waiting, the shop-soiled and the hard-boiled, those who’re past their sell-by date, all who come early or arrive breathlessly late.
It’s where in every pew sits a broken heart and on the inside we’re all falling apart, but tears can be cried and grace can be given as we share with an openness birthed from heaven.
I think there’s room for all as we gaze in holy awe at the babe in the stable, and a warm welcome awaits everyone at the table.
You can pray in tongues or sit in silence, decide to contemplate, meditate, approach the throne of grace with longing to be fed and find all God’s children receive manna-bread.
[bctt tweet=”I think church is a disparate body of believers where emphasis rests most on being good receivers.”]
Because it’s Love that invades our hearts and souls, permeates the everyday with a Light that blinds as it captures us whole, illumines our minds, transforms our thinking over time, reveals we are nought without its impartation and is continually renewing our wayward inclinations.
I began with a deep longing to know Jesus, and that’s where all my messy meandering is still taking me.
It’s always been about Jesus – the Alpha and Omega of our deepest searching for meaning, truth and love.
[bctt tweet=”My inner vision remains rooted in closer communion and relationship with God.”]
I thirst to know Him better; I hunger for all that draws me toward that goal.
And I conclude below with an excerpt from Sarah Bessey’s closing blessing for all honest seekers.
The image quotes above are from Sarah Bessey’s hotly anticipated, newly released book, ‘Out of Sorts:Making Peace with an Evolving Faith’
Reading it has stirred and impacted me greatly, inspired this post and a review to come.
You can find out more about her work at Sarah’s beautiful blog site.
Yes, yes. I used to…now. Have you heard the Casting Crowns song “that was then, this is now…”? Love. Thanks! Blessings!
Hi Bethany. It’s been a while since I listened to that particular song by Casting Crowns, so I went back to hear it again and appreciated the lyrics more than before. How grateful we are that Jesus never changes! Even as we learn to live with mystery, live with our doubts and questions and live into the answers to come, God remains ever faithful and loving. Thanks for stopping by and reminding me of this! I’m glad you could relate to the things I’ve shared. Blessings to you too.
You take my breath away, my friend.
In a good way, I hope! June, you’re very sweet but it’s more the way God has dealt with me through my journey that is the breathtaking thing. Each stage has revealed more of His glory and grace, each day is one where He gives manna and means to live well for Him. Happy to have inspired you, my friend, in the sharing of my out-of-sorts faith walk. Bless you. 🙂 x
Such a reflective post, Joy. Truly, faith does evolve, grow, and stretch over the years. You have me thinking about what I believed then and what I believe now, and I find one constant – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “It’s always been about Jesus – the Alpha and Omega of our deepest searching for meaning, truth and love.” I love that last quote you shared from Sarah. I think over the years I increasingly learn how much bigger, generous, and wonderful God really is. With you, I long to know Him more and more.
Trudy, in all my messy meanderings I share the one constant you do – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Amen! May you be blessed abundantly in all your earnest seeking after God’s heart, my friend. He rewards all who diligently seek after Him. And may I entice you to read Sarah’s book as I review it in another post to come!
Wonderful, wonderful post Joy. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You tell your faith story so beautifully, and honestly. So awesome to see what God is doing in you. Bless you Joy.
(PS: Thanks for using a couple of my images too!)
Hello James. It’s lovely to see you here! I’m awed at what God is doing in you, my friend. Maybe we lack clear-eyed vision for ourselves? My faith journey has been long, meandering and muddy in some ways but I love where its taking me now. Bless you for stopping by to leave such an encouraging comment. Your images were too good not to use – glad you don’t mind! 🙂
I love the kaleidoscope image. We keep turning and turning and maybe we get a clear picture and then we turn it again. I love the way you described the blending of your faith experiences. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Lisa. I’m glad the kaleidoscope image appealed to you. It seemed an apt way to describe an evolving faith’s shifting perspective. Thanks very much for stopping by and blessing me in the process!
Thank you for sharing your heart and your faith experiences! It is indeed a journey and if someone from the future had met me many years ago, I never in my wildest dreams would have guessed the present! God works miracles and brings us where we need to be – closer to Him! Blessings!
This: “if someone from the future had met me many years ago, I never in my wildest dreams would have guessed the present.” How I relate to your words, Carrie! God certainly does move in mysterious ways to develop Christ-like fruit in us. Thanks for visiting. Blessings to you too on your evolving journey of faith. It’s quite a ride, isn’t it? 🙂
Oh, and I absolutely adore your choice for domain name! ❤
Why thank you, Carrie! It kind of chose itself, with a little bit of a suggestion from my son. ❤
Hi Joy! I think a lot of people believed that a church was for the ones who ‘had it all figured out’. That sure makes me laugh! We are all stumbling our way to personal holiness, getting it right sometimes, and then getting it wrong…again!
I hope that we will all have the peace and patience to live with ourselves and others as we ride the wild winds of the Spirit. We’ll make it eventually!
Hi Ceil. It’s a joy to see you here! Yes, you’re right in this: “We are stumbling our way to personal holiness, getting it right sometimes, and then getting it wrong…again!” It definitely requires patience to live as a pilgrim, doesn’t it? The walk of faith is not for the faint-hearted. May you enjoy the journey as you “ride the wild winds of the Spirit” as you so eloquently put it. It’s good to have your company for the ride. One day, we will make it to where we need to be, by the grace of God. Blessings. 🙂 x
I read another post recently about Sarah Bessey’s new book and find the theme intriguing. I especially love looking at my faith with the words, “I used to think… but now I think”. I will need to do my own faith reflection using that framework. My favorite words today are… “It’s where in every pew sits a broken heart and on the inside we’re all falling apart, but tears can be cried and grace can be given as we share with an openness birthed from heaven.” That is church! Thank you for these words.
Yes, it’s an intriguing prompt which has sparked a wide variety of posts. Although some common things seem to stand out from those I’ve read so far, and that’s a relaxing of whatever previously tied people up in legalistic knots and a new freedom in expressing our faith more personally, coupled with a growing awareness of how much God loves us. An evolving faith can shake and unsettle as change happens, but it also promotes a desire to draw nearer to God as we learn to live better with the not knowing and with mystery. Thank you for letting me know your favourite words here. They also speak to me of church as I see it. We’re all on a journey toward greater wholeness and healing, all walking wounded ones with scars and pain and a testimony of how God’s grace is continually renewing and restoring us. Bless you for adding to the conversation here, Mary. I love to hear from you!
Glorious and freeing, Joy! What a gift to read your words.
Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! What an honour to see you here and read your sweet, encouraging comment. Bless you. 🙂
Yes to all these words! Especially church being a “hospital for the hurting”. So true. Beautiful.
Thank you, Katherine! It’s lovely to meet you. I’m so pleased you could relate to these words. My story is a universal one in many ways because each person’s faith journey will have common threads linking them together. Blessed by your visit.