Monday, December 8, 2014

Unlikely Faith



This advent season, my church is walking through a series called The Way to the Manger. It is all about the women in the lineage of Jesus. Jesus wasn't born into a family of well-to-do, line-avoiding saints. Jesus was born into a family that included a background filled with woman who were no different than you or me, sinners. Sunday we heard the salvation story of a harlot names Rahab. We learned of her unlikely story of faith that saved not only her life, but the lives of all connected to her. 

How does a faith like that work? It works because of Love, true love. Deep down, kick-you-in-the-gut, more-than-my-own-life, Love. God knows our stories. He sees our hearts. He knows the ugliness and the beauty inside them. He forgives what needs to be forgiven and He fosters in us the shiny bits, the bits where He shines through. That's what makes faith look so unlikely. He's what makes an impossible love possible. All salvation stories seem unlikely, because it can seem so unlikely that we can be loved, just because. 

Maybe your salvation story is a long one, with detours and bypasses, or maybe you found God while singing in the  shower one day when you were still a kid. Or maybe you are waiting for yours to start, still thinking that it is too unlikely that with your history, your current story, that you could ever be love by Perfection, but you are! You already are. Either way the journey is never a wrapped up package in one tidy little box. Faith grows and changes. At least mine sure has. I fell in love with God the way I fall in love with most people in my life. I clung but from a distance, playing the part, making it look like I was all in, backing up when things got too close, until little-by-little, weary-step-after-weary-step, I tripped right into a relationship I couldn't get enough of. I always believed, just as I always believed in a fairytale romance and a happy, storybook ending. And then, I learned what a true fairytale looked like. I learned that it falls hard each night after a long day of living, but that it falls comforted. I learned that it is both messy and glorious, that it fights through storms that come out of a cloudless sky. I learned that it is a process. I learned that my ability to be loved had nothing to do with the things I did or didn't do, with the way I did or didn't act or with how clean my life looked. My ability to be loved just had to do with being me. Me, the sinner. Me, the daughter of a King. 

Jesus came for sinners. God called them by name and Jesus came. My sin? I call it "the dreamer". Dreaming isn't a bad thing. One should never let go of dreaming. One should however, dream righteously. I didn't dream that way. I created fantasies in my head of things I knew that God would never want for my life. Sure that picture looked pretty, it looked fun, it looked inviting; sin typically does. But what I was really doing was pulling myself out of my reality. I lived in a world of "what ifs" and not what is- a world that wasn't mine at all, but some unknown character in some unknown world that just happened to resemble my life. I am learning the whys- to avoid pain, to create a wall to deal with loss, to live in a pretend world where pretend hearts can only get pretend broken. But that's living a lie, one that can ultimately do nothing but shatter your reality. I guess if I was being honest with myself I would have to call "the dreamer" lust. I would lust for things that would ultimately lead to my destruction. I lusted for a world where I could pretend bad things didn't happen, because I was afraid of loosing everything I held close (maybe, that makes my sin fear- fear and lust). I lusted for a heaven here on Earth.  But we aren't promised that. We lost that when our human nature out won our God nature and sin entered the world. Heaven here on Earth, that would now be a place without the direct nearness of God and that isn't Heaven at all. 

So, I am learning to dream righteously. I am learning to dream of the impossible possibilities because they are God possibilities and not me possibilities. I am learning to shut off the pictures in my head that tell me I am not right where I should be or to take those fantasies at face value and jot down the idea for what could make a "wonderful" fiction story, if only I could finish it. That was always the problem with my "dreams", they never had an ending. They never had an ending because they ever got to the part where real life came into play. They never got to the part where they had to deal with real issues; with sadness, death, change or new beginnings. They never had an ending because the real ending to any true story comes when I can say, face-to-face to the God who loves me in spite of all my sin, "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith" and He can tell me "welcome Home."  

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