What Are You Doing?

8:51 AMHeather

In a moment of epiphany about three months ago, I wondered why I had missed it for so long.  I felt grieved that I had been doing this church and Christian thing for most of my life, but I didn't get it. I had never really gotten it.

I had, as of yet, never really understood the gospel.  I was following a plastic Jesus.  To be brutally honest, after spending this last spring in the book of John, I realized I'd been living like the Pharisees and Saducees.  So caught up in the rules and ritual and striving and performing, that I missed the Jesus right in front of me.  The Jesus of love and grace whose gospel is freedom.

I grew up going to church, since pre-birth.  I decided I wanted to follow Jesus at age four, after a conversation with our pastor, Billy Graham.  (Not THAT Billy Graham).  My parents questioned my understanding of this decision at such a young age, but Pastor Graham affirmed that I was as aware as anyone of my need for a Savior.  

From then on, I lived a rather Beaver Clever childhood as an Army brat, with parents who loved each other with an older sister who patiently tolerated me.  I was a people pleaser and nothing made me happier than earning those gold stars on the Bible memorization chart in Sunday School.  You know the one--the chart where you also earned stars for bringing your Bible and being present.  

And present I was.  Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights.  Church attendance was mandatory in my family.  I distinctly remember my seventh birthday when I got a pass for church--because I'd been up all night with a stomach virus.  

On top of Godly parents, I had Godly grandparents and uncles.  I avoided serious rebellion as a teen--greatly assisted by the fact my dad was a pastor by then in my tiny hometown. There were eyes everywhere for my every move--everyone knew I was Pastor Murray's girl.  

I chose a Christian university, put the Christian fish on my car, and went to Christian concerts such as Carmen, Amy Grant, and Michael W. Smith.

I knew the lyrics to all of the hymns--except for the third verse, as I was raised in a Baptist church.  I knew the church lingo, prayed regularly, and towed the line.  

Adulthood was thrust upon me at age 19 when my dad died and for many reasons, I found myself very much left to my own financially and emotionally.

Still, I clung.  To a faith that I was desperately hoping would be enough.  And it was.  In that season of life, I came to know God as my lifeline, my strength, and my Father.

But, until recently, I didn't realize that I viewed God as a distant God, bent on cracking the whip to keep me in line.  Throughout my adulthood, I've come to see that I don't believe that He's really FOR me.  Instead, I've settled for an idea that if I perform well enough, he might be persuaded.  I haven't really believed He loves me.  As in a personal, passionate, crazy for me kind of love.  More like a tolerance of me.  There are walls that I've built around my heart and boxes that I've built around my ideas of God, perhaps for self-protection.  Until recently, these walls and boxes have kept my faith safe because I wasn't sure I could trust a God who sometimes didn't feel safe.

These walls began to crack two years ago, when my husband and I suddenly found ourselves at a crossroads with an unexpected circumstance that sucker punched us.  

And it caused us to ask--what are we doing here?  

I mean, really?  What are we doing here?  Hitting forty years old and what are we spending our days doing?  

How about you?  What are YOU spending your days doing?

I mean, really think about that.  Mentally go through your day, and think of the verbs that describe your actions throughout the day.

Those cracks in my wall continued as I found myself knee deep in readings such as David Platt's Radical, Jen Hatmaker's 7, and Kisses from Katie--as I've mentioned here before.  Those people had a radical faith.  I saw a common thread of people so moved by God's love for them that they were acting like Jesus did.  Caring for the poor.  Bucking the system of the American Dream.  Trading convenience and comfort for the sake of others. 

Listening to Sarah Bessey at the IF Gathering, I realized something.

Those people were learning the unforced rhythms of grace.  They were living freely and lightly.  They were living out these forgotten verbs of the Bible that I was suddenly hearing from all sides, all sermons, all blogs, all readings.

Rest.  Stay.  Sit.  Abide.  Dwell.  Remain.  Cling.

They were learning this new task list.  These verbs that feel passive, but are actually quite powerful.

Because in the pause, in the quiet, in the stillness...these people had discovered who Jesus really was.  They had met the Jesus I had kept at a safe distance for all of my life.  They had taken the plunge off the cliff of religion into the ocean of grace and love.  

And they were changed.  Their lives looked different.

What they were doing looked nothing like what I was doing, sitting in my safe little church pew. 

And it led me to ask another question.  The question that is shattering my religion that has left me burned out, tired, and weary. 

The question that has become the launching point for a new journey of faith.  The question that summarizes all this deconstruction and discovery.

The question we will dive into tomorrow.

Stay tuned, bloggy friends. 

Blog post #2 in a series on Sabbath Living: the Sacred Practice of Sitting at the Feet of Jesus.

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