Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Published 11:39 AM by with 5 comments

The Greatest Mystery



When you're a child, you usually believe most of what you're told, especially when it's told to you by an adult in authority. So for the first sixteen years of my life, I didn't question what I was taught about God. My family attended church from the time I was about four years old or so. The churches we were part of over the course of my younger years had various denominations, but the majority of them taught roughly the same doctrines. I grew up sitting in Sunday school classes and taking notes during sermons. I was never under the impression that you had to be perfect to be part of a church, or that anyone who went to church was perfect, but it was clear that there were some pretty high standards for anyone who wanted to call themselves a Christian.

All that I learned in this time made me think that I had a pretty good grasp on who and what God was. I didn't have a lot of questions. I was satisfied that I had a good relationship with God. I prayed often, on my own because I liked talking with God, and I read my Bible so that I could understand His character better. It was a comfort zone. I was happy.

It wasn't until I went to college at sixteen that I began to think that maybe God couldn't be wrapped up in such a tidy box. Part of it was that I began to hear questions from my college friends about religion. Part of it was that I began to tackle issues that I hadn't thought of yet in my short time on earth. And part of it was that after I moved to a large city (from Idaho to St. Louis) I was exposed to much more diversity in Christian beliefs and in religions. I met people who called themselves Christians, and even though they were lovely people, they didn't dress or behave like any other Christians I'd met. Some of them *gasp* had tattoos! Or dreadlocks! It changed my perspective both on who God could be perceived to be and my perspective on who were His followers.

Also, when I was seventeen, several other events occurred: my parents separated and got divorced, our current church fell apart underneath us (not the first time this had happened), several good friends betrayed our family, and I was very sick after having what was supposed to be minor surgery. Long story short... all these terrible things did not shake my faith in God, but they definitely shook my faith in the institutional church and people. I began to do more thinking on my own, not relying so blindly on what I was taught, but reading the Bible on my own with more intensity, listening with open ears to others even if what they said contradicted what I believed, and listening to what the Spirit was telling my heart.

Slowly I began to realize that God was bigger than my own personal beliefs.

I still believed that God's Word was the Bible and that Christ is the way to salvation, but there were a lot of other ideas that were actually compelling on both sides of the arguement, instead of being set-in-stone doctrines. I stopped thinking I had all the answers, or even that I could find all the answers. It was a humbling yet beautiful realization that God was bigger than my human mind could grasp! In way, it is comforting to know that the Maker of Life cannot be completely understood. He is God... I am not.

Now I am learning to sit with the Mystery that God is. Every year I learn and grow and change in my relationship with him, but I will never stop wondering. There will never be an end to discovering who He is. There will never be an end to discovering what His amazing creation, our universe, contains. He will continue to speak through His Spirit to our souls. He will continue to reveal truth through His Word. And yes, God continues to work through people in our lives and through the church, both as the individual people of God and the institution, despite their flaws. That's the beauty of the Gospel, that God loves broken folks, and we can love others because of His love for us.

In the end, what does God require of us, even if we have questions or confusion?

In the words of Micah 6:8, "to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God".

{Linking up with Shelly's "Write or Die Wednesdays"}
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5 comments:

V. Nino said...

Alyssa,

Thank you for joining us today :) This was so beautifully written.

I love how you have described your journey with your faith, and admit the various questions and detours you've encountered along the way.

What I love most is that your faith never wavered. I wish I could say the same, but there was definitely a time I identified more with agnosticism than anything. But I've had too many strange "paranormal" experiences to deny that there is definitely good and evil and afterlife. Plus, I just *feel* God within me, and I feel that He is good and, of course, all-knowing.

Again, so, so beautifully written. THANK YOU for sharing yourself with us :)

Mia @ The Chronicles of Chaos said...

Alyssa, oh my goodness, what beautiful words! I love how you took us along on your journey of faith. I like how you said you changed and grew and began to view God and Christianity, and religion in general, differently.

Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story. :)

Shaye Mascall said...

Hey, will you send me your email address or your number for texting? I want to ask you something :)

thegreatfish said...

Thanks for writing. Love it.

Lyssa said...

Thank you very much, @V.Nino and @Mia! I loved the prompt for writing!

And thank you, @thegreatfish :-)