I discovered Charissa's blog, Light Bulbs and Baby Steps, a couple of months ago, and have appreciated her honesty. The questions she asked in her a recent post are exactly what I have felt the past few years:
I struggle greatly with my ability to have faith when it comes to knowing God. The truth is, it has been a long time, maybe years since I have clearly felt or heard the voice of God in an irrefutable way. Radio silence. And yet I cannot seem to abandon Him, or is it He won't abandon me? Either way, I find myself in a holding pattern. A frustratingly long holding pattern. I haven't known how to proceed. How do I keep praying without doing it out of mere obligation and guilt? How do I read the Bible without disintegrating into a quivering heap of questions in the corner of my room?
Frankly, I have a hard time telling the difference between that still small voice and the crazy-person talk in my head. And I often find myself agreeing with agnostics and atheists when it comes to "proof" issues, especially when I think about other religions. Everyone thinks they've heard from God, and that their holy book is the truest version of the truth. Sometimes I get confused in the cacophony of both my own internal voices and the external debates on epistemiology. So I get frustrated with the holding pattern I'm in when I don't clearly hear God.
But lately I've realized I may have been going about it the wrong way. I've been waiting to hear from God and have placed certain expectations on what hearing from Her would sound or look like. Perhaps this is going to sound heretical and humanist, but I "hear" from God quite often via my fellow human beings.
I may not feel God's presence when I sit with by Bible open, looking for answers, but I sure feel His presence when my husband extends me an incredible amount of grace. I may not literally hear a response from God when I ask Him questions, but if I would just look around, I might get an answer.
I came across this quote from Stanley Hauerwas, which explains more clearly how others help me stay on this crazy God-following path:
The worship of God does not come naturally to me, as it seems to for some. I live most of my life as if God does not exist. Yet I know I would not have survived without the prayers of friends who have learned to pray the prayers of the church. My life depends on learning to worship God with those who have made it possible for me to go on. Through worship, the world learns the truth that is required for our being truthful about ourselves and one another.
And this, from an amazing, must-read post by Sarcastic Lutheran, points out the ordinariness of the kingdom of God:
the kingdom of heaven is not to be found alone in a monestary, it’s not to be found in the demands and rewards of human religion, it’s found in the ordinary, the daily, the right in front of your face and never realized it. And when you see it something is made new. Perhaps a part of the world perhaps a part of yourself. But something is made new when the empty promises of the world according to us gives way to the whimsy, and the true and the eternal in the world according to God. And it’s always a surprise. Tilt your head and look sideways at your life and might see it in the small or the unexpected or the impure.
Tilt your head and look sideways and catch a glimpse- for the Prince of Peace has begun his reign. The signs are all around. They are signs of a battle already won. Signs of a world loved so deeply by God that God refuses to leave it alone. So take another look. See if you can spot it.