Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sunday Morning Choking Hazard

When Mike and I bed and breakfasted last Fall, we really were Bread and breakfasting because we were there to train for the Truth Project. Mike took it to Guatemala shortly thereafter, and crammed thirteen weeks of teaching into a week of days to Guatemalan pastors. It's the first time they didn't get our leftovers, and I was a bit jealous not to be the one going first.

But now we are one week into the Truth Project ourselves. It has taken the place of Sunday morning sermons and even crowded out a bit of worship time, but it's worth accommodating. Even my teenage son came home wanting to watch and hear more.

The first teaching was called Veritology. Ology - the study of. Verit - Truth. Isn't that what we do already? We know this. We have the Word, several copies actually, bookshelves full in our house.

Dr. Del Tackett's a compelling teacher, and from a stunning college classroom he's talking about how Jesus came to this world to (among other reasons) testify to the truth.

Truth's that important. Why? Because all sin is based on lies and deception and is born from not honoring the truth.

I know all this, too. I've taught it to a Sunday school class, studied it with fellow Precept students, with Beth Moore groupies, and have the marked up bible to prove it.


But I'm game, because Del's a fresh face, and it never hurts to hear it again. And then, while I'm admiring the scenery on this road I'd traveled before, a most unexpected question comes.

 Do you really believe what you really believe is really real?

I promise it's not Dr. Seuss, but the Holy Spirit who appears in my house as unannounced as the Cat In the Hat. He's doing about as much damage, too. 
  • If I really believed God hears my prayers, shouldn't it be harder to stop praying rather than start?
  • If I really believed these leather-bound pages were Truth and Life, shouldn't more of them be memorized?
  • If I really believed every act of service was unto the Lord, why would I wash another sink full - kitchen full - of dishes while lecturing my kids (too loudly) about helping me by cleaning up after themselves?
  • If He's provider, why do I worry?
For days I choke on these questions, and I come to realize there is nothing wrong with my faith.

But there's a whole lot wrong with my walk. I do believe all these things in my head, in my heart, and in my spirit. I actually manage to somehow put them into practice when I'm in a pinch, too.

But so often I don't; or I do, but it falls short of blind-walking, you-must-be-crazy, I'm-scared-and-this-hurts kind of faith. Because real faith is not comfortable, and my American body is well acquainted with comfort and not at all happy to give it up.

Paul buffeted his body so as not be disqualified. I can't remember the last time I buffeted my body, unless chaperoning a youth lock-in counts, and even that was at least a decade ago. Paul was imprisoned in dank, dark dungeons, was left for dead, given 39 lashes, was shipwrecked, unpopular, and had a day job to go to after he planted churches, took two long missionary journeys, played spiritual fathers to many cities, hosted peace summits between Jewish and Greek Christians, and wrote much of the New Testament.

This is the Paul who proposed that perhaps his sinful nature and his flesh might fail him and disqualify him for the prize. He needed more discipline to be on the safe side.

I like my sleep, central heat, my car, my godly conversations within the safe confines of the Body of Christ. I like a full stomach and being safe, secure, and dry when it rains. I like my shoes to fit, my hair color, and taking Tylenol when I get a headache.

My body craves comfort. My Savior demands surrender. And between those two sentences is a Grand Canyon gap.  I am soft and satisfied, full of faith and Word, but choking on the choice.

Being a Christian in America is hard, but I must learn this resurrection life.

Being a Christian in Guatemala is hard, and they, too, must learn resurrection life.

It's not about what we have or don't have. It's about where we turn for comfort.

Truth be told, the life that is dead to self is the only life that leads us home to the real Comforter. These earthly creature comforts are just part of the lies.

I do so love my creature comforts, but I will let them go if called upon to do so (and I've probably been called upon more than I think), in order to lay hold of Truth and become a new creature. And this is where I am, after thirty years of faith, still choking on milk like a newborn.

Maybe that's why God speaks to me in Dr. Seussian questions and destroys my house like the Cat In the Hat, then stays to clean me up without lecturing loudly that I didn't help.


5 comments:

  1. Oh, how well you write and pierce my soul!

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  2. I heard of a Chinese servant of God speaking about the contrast between our Christianity and that of the persecuted church. He said it was the difference between "commitment" (what American Christians do) and "surrender" (what those in the third world have learned). It is not in us to really "commit" ...we must surrender. Loved this post as it comes on the heels of my own thoughts of "too much stuff." The truth project is great ...but I hurt sometimes that nothing seems to break through our ice past the point of being in the service. It is scary when I think of what it might take.

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  3. Hey, it just hit me that you live in SC!!! Wow...lots of snow ...whee...I grew up in Greenville SC! Very pretty picture of the house in the snow....but those kids in the next picture is probably one that God pauses at and smiles. : )

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  4. Wow Dawn,
    What a mouthful!! "My body craves comfort. My Savior demands surrender. And between those two sentences is a Grand Canyon gap. I am soft and satisfied, full of faith and Word, but choking on the choice." Why do we so often choke on the choice? Why do we so often fail to really live in light of the things we really do believe are really real? Great stuff!!

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  5. Dawn, you have a way of making me ashamed of my whines and complaints. This post makes me cry not for what I don't have because I have everything I need and most of what I want. In this country, USA, we are so blessed, well beyond our deserving.

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