One of the reasons I picked the Fort Worth area to move to is because of a sermon I heard early this year, Preaching the Gospel to the Dechurched by a guy named Matt Chandler. (If you haven't heard it yet I recommend it highly. I also have my notes here if you don't have time to listen to the whole thing and you don't mind them being a bit vague.) He is the pastor of a church called The Village and after some conversations with the people I trust most in life, I decided that a season spent here just learning and growing would be a good idea. I've been here a week and a half now and in addition to attending their weekend service, I'm also getting involved in a Tuesday night women's meeting. When someone first mentioned making this class a priority, I won't lie, I nodded outwardly and scoffed inwardly: ladies bible studies have not been historically helpful for either learning and growing in my experience. But after several people said "Go!" and an email from the seminar teacher welcoming me on board, even though registration was closed for the semester, I went.
You know when you don't know how, but you know that your life is going to be changed? Yeah.
Can I just tell you something? Something honest and a little hard for me to say here?
God and me, we haven't been doing so hot this year. Maybe you've picked that up along the way or maybe you know me in real life and couldn't have helped but notice, or maybe you don't know me at all, but you've been reading this thinking that I've got it pretty good in the God category. But truthfully? Really truthfully? In pastoral offices and friend's living rooms and my very own office across from the best coworker and friend in the world, I've cried "I don't believe anymore." And I meant it.
Because belief, of all the things in Christianity, is the most difficult for me. I understand the father of the demoniac "I believe, help my unbelief." Thomas? Yeah, him I get. Peter, radical one moment and sinking in water the next, yeah, this makes sense to me. I don't do things by halves, so when I fail, I fail hard and deep. Unbelief is my nemesis and, in some ways, I'm okay with that because it keeps me asking questions and digging for answers and asking for faith more than I might otherwise.
The thing I am finding about God is that Sunday School stories and half-gospel tellings of Him are in some ways more dangerous than not knowing at all. If we don't see the whole picture, we're in danger of seeing through such a dim glass that we eventually don't even want to see face to face. This is where I've been this year. "If that's you God, I don't want that." So this year has been a year of unbelief. Not even, I believe, help my unbelief. Just, I don't believe and so God, if you're real, and you are who you say you are, I want to come face to face with you. I want to come face to face with the brokenness in me and see you alone as the answer, that's it. That's all I want. That's all I'm asking. Just you.
And slowly, over the past few months, through a study my community group at home did, through the unconditional love of a friend who heard it all, every day, and now through this women's Bible study class, I am beginning to see a God who isn't waiting for me to anxiously rub my dim glass cleaner and cleaner, but who is letting me stand there, quietly and patiently, while He cleans it for me.
I am beginning to believe in this God.