TGIF with Ingrid September 7, 2018: Doubt, Fear, Faith.

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TGIF with Ingrid

September 7, 2018

 

It is still dark.  The candle beside me is glowing, struggling to stay lit.  Slowly it grows, steadies. 

 

I love this time of day – just before dawn.  It is so filled with hope, teeming with possibility; there is something precious, something holy in the stillness.  It is as though the earth is pausing to praise God before the flurry, the activity, begins.  A Creation prayer pause.

 

It is quiet, it is cool…a dog barks, the light begins to shift…it begins.

 

What I am Trusting

I am trusting in God’s direction.  During my morning prayer/meditation practice, I heard the words of Jesus in Luke 5, speaking to the fishermen who had been out all night with nothing to show for their work.  He tells them to put out into deep water and let their nets out for a catch.  Simon answers – ‘we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything!’  Right!?  This is often my first reaction when I get that wave of intuition, that still small voice deep within (honestly, sometimes it is a deep, loud, booming voice!), that God voice coaxing me in one direction or another.  I want to say nope – no way – already tried that, thank you very much. 

But then Simon’s next words are the crux of faith, I think.  ‘Yet.’  It is that moment of pause, that moment of, perhaps, humility when Simon becomes aware that maybe this Jesus guy just might be something special.  ‘Yet,’ Simon replies, ‘yet, if you say so, I will let down the nets.’  And what happens?  He catches so many fish he must call over the guys from the next boat to help him with the haul.

And isn’t that so true for me as well.  When I trust that God voice, and I follow that guidance, nine times out of ten I am astounded at the results.

 

What I am Grateful For

I connect so well with what happens next for Simon in this passage: he crumples in front of Jesus, crying into the dust for Jesus to get away from him – that he is a sinful man.  In other words, who am I to receive from you?  I am not worthy.  My life has had some significant challenges – I have had good times and bad, struggled, like we all have.  And yet in and through and beyond it all, I have been so richly blessed.  My Dad has teased me for years, ‘horseshoes fall out of your butt.’  And I cannot hardly argue.  I have such a good life.  So good, I often find myself crumpled before Jesus in a tearful heap of unworthiness, who am I?  Who am I to receive so much from You?  This is, of course, grace.  God’s love poured out not because I am worthy, but simply because I am.

My gratitude in this comes from the identification I have with this 2,000-year-old fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. There I am, in this old book that so many have cast aside as irrelevant.  There I am, in my initial doubts, my astonishment at the fullness of my nets, and the reverence to the holy right in front of me.

 

What Inspires Me

And what does Jesus do?  He crouches down, lays a hand on Simon and says, ‘do not be afraid.’  A phrase repeated over, and over, and over.  A phrase I could use tattooed backwards on my forehead so that every time I looked in the mirror I would be able to read it.  The crazy thing is that so often our fear is masked: anger, anxiety, arrogance, apathy…and those are just the ‘a’s!  We don’t always recognize fear for what it is, but God does.  God sees our fears and says, ‘hey, its ok.  Everything is ok.  Don’t be afraid.’

And we are reminded, day after day, story after story not to be afraid.  And then, the most beautiful thing happens.  We can begin to hear ourselves saying it to others.  Because we begin to believe it.

 

How I am Practicing My Faith

I will keep on reading the Bible, wrestling around with the sticky bits, and finding myself in it.  The realities of the human experience that are captured in this book are timeless.  When I am angry at God at all the injustice in the world, I can shake my fist along with Amos or question God like Job.  When I am filled with joy I can sing praises with the psalmists, when I am filled with love the words of the Song of Songs resonates in my chest.  When I am hopeless at the hatred in the world I am comforted by the dream of a new heaven given to John of Patmos and written down in Revelation, I am reminded that one day we will all be united in love.

I will keep reading, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.  Because life can be so very hard.  But life can also be so very, very good.  And I can find myself in both of those extremes and everywhere in between in the pages of the Bible.