In the quietest hours, while everything is still dark, while the household and neighborhood sleeps… questions come to life.
Impossible questions. Gut-wrenching questions.
The questions that no one wants to ask, but everyone wonders about… questions the world throws at the church … and the church hides from.
The questions I used to hide from…
I used to throw scriptures at these questions… pat answers in a one-size-fits-all scuttle to outlast the barrage of unanswerable, overwhelming possibilities these questions posed. I used to believe my answers with all my heart… defending them with passion.
Now… life has somehow broken my scriptural platitudes… my one-size-fits-all paradigm has cracked and split apart under the weight and reality of real life… the life this world lives in… outside most church walls.
Walk by faith, not by sight… walk by faith… by faith…
As the shadows creep across the walls… the moon shining through cut glass candle holders, fracturing and fragmenting light across the floor… like my faith.
My finger trace the texture of words; worn lines, highlighted and underlined, in the pages of my Bible… I used to have faith… I thought…
Lord, my faith is broken… obviously. How did it break? What happened?
…As friends and loved ones jump up and down in elated joy to the pumping music, I can only watch… that kind of joy eludes me now… I think, reflecting back to yesterday’s service. Did they ever face these questions? Have they wrestled through these haunting hours and come out whole…? Or do they jump because they haven’t yet peered into the lurid depths of these questions that linger in this world… I wonder… utterly alone in the darkened fractured light.
You whisper, I AM here.
In that darkened air, that space of life where Your answer was No to a display of power, No to intervening, You whisper… Yes… to engaging in my pain… I can feel You hovering… lingering… Your heart breaking with mine…
Not for mine… with mine.
The questions loom… daggers of doubt and anger… threats of lacking control… of being unable to define with answers… with platitudes… beyond scriptures reach…
… in that space, You have drawn Yourself around me. Entered in with me… presented Yourself as available to walk these halls of endless possibilities that are frighteningly large… frustratingly real… impossible to ignore any longer.
…the biggest one being, what if You aren’t who You say You are?
You don’t answer me with words… instead, I hear Your tears…
You press in closer… put on my misery, as Your own… and You are with me… close, heart beat for heart beat… tear for tear… No answers. Just presence. Simple presence.
And I realize, faith isn’t in spiritual platitudes where there are no answers… its not in believing… it isn’t something I can wield as a weapon or use as a shield…
Fatih is being. It is You being near to me. Faith is experiencing Your being.
I don’t have the strength or will or spirit to cling to faith… I am out of belief… I can’t overcome what is currently real with what feels like figments of imagination… disappointment of a freedom I once tasted… that is now lost… I just can’t faith my way back…
…but You didn’t expect me to.
You simply draw in, whisper “I AM here” and cling to me.
This is not what I expected… not what I’ve been taught… not what I’ve held myself up to…
Yet, it is here… You in Your fullness of power, All Knowing One… not holding me to a standard You surely could demand… no, instead You breath in my pain, acknowledge my betrayal, ache with my loneliness, endure my fears and doubts… leaning into my misery to be with me
The God of this universe has made Himself small, humbled Himself, and entered into my reality… You show me Who faith is… that its not something I cling to, that it’s someone Who clings to me.
In the absence of a display of power, You quietly reveal a powerful truth.
Light in the house fades from deep shadows into pale gold… morning… and as the tears soak my pillow, You weep with me… the moon has given way to sun gleaming in through the cut glass candle holders… and now the fractured fragments of light are brilliant with color… its in the stillness of this hour, Your presence is weighty… Your weight carves its mark on my being… fragmented and fractured… colored with Your tears… and I find joy.
You haven’t answered my circumstances. You transform my understanding.
“Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And thats not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our character. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness…”. ~Romans 5:2-4