For the past two months I have intended to sit down and write a blog with this title. I intended to share where I am now since this blogging journey began in late March and express further discontentment, further disillusionment, and more dissatisfaction with typical Christianity, church, and traditions in general. I was prepared to admit that I didn’t know if I would ever be able to enjoy again the activities I was once involved with and make the declaration that I didn’t even know if I wanted to. The critical and cynical thoughts would run rampant in my mind until the time would come to write and I would find myself with a blank mind. It was like something, or Someone, was preventing me from proceeding . . .
. . . Let me pause here to remind you, not once since this journey began four years ago have I turned away from God or forsaken Christianity though at times it has certainly felt that way. I fully realize now this was a journey that God has not only allowed me to take . . . it’s a journey He is leading me on. One of J.R.R. Tolkein’s most famous quotes, and certainly one of Shannon’s favorites, is “Not all those who wander are lost.” I believe that quote captures the essence of what David wrote, and something I’ve realized on this journey, in Psalm 139:7-12: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave,a you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” In fact, I had planned to end my now unwritten post with that Psalm and the reminder that it didn’t matter “Where I Am” because He is always there . . .
Since my last post in October, my attitude towards church was simply, “I’m going just to provide stability for the kids. They seem to enjoy it, and it seems I can tolerate it so we will go.” This all changed two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, something happened. I don’t know what it was and can’t even pinpoint exactly one thing, but I know as we left church that morning something was different. There was nothing magical. I shed no tears, I didn’t run to the altar with a broken heart, but something was different. As we stood in worship that morning, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote in July Redig the Wells. I opened my tablet and reread what I posted as God reminded me the wells would start to run again. This morning, I reread the blog once again which drove me back to the scriptures it was taken from, Genesis 26:17-22:
So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”
I won’t take the time or space to rehash the entire post from July, but what stood out to me this morning was that it took three attempts for Isaac’s servants to dig a well that did not cause a dispute. The first attempt was met with arguments, the second attempt was met with hostility. Wow . . . that was like an arrow to my heart. I have allowed arguments in my mind to come against anything that appeared to be religious, churchy, traditional, or formulaic. The arguments then bred hostility and anger in my heart towards the same things. Wow. . . just wow. It was a mirror to my heart and I have to admit I didn’t like the reflection. From the story of the wells, take note that Isaac did not settle until there was no dispute over the well. I had settled. I was content to believe the arguments and feel justified in my hostility and criticism and cynicism . . . but even in all of that, God knew exactly where I am. As David said,”even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.”
So, that’s where I am . . . and it’s right where God has me and I don’t have to hide, because I really can’t hide anyway! Psalm 139 opens with the following five verses: “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”
I don’t fully know what all this means but, as I said, that is where I am and where I am the wells are running. I don’t understand it all, but neither did David. In the middle of Psalm 139, verse 6, he states, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”