Hello, dear friends. I have been hearing from folks all over the place that finding time to read long essays is difficult sometimes. I recorded an audio version for you busy people and I hope you like it. Thanks for reading and listening and always being so kind.
A few years ago, I was having that trouble again.
You know the trouble, don’t you?
The trouble is when that voice comes back around. The voice that whispers the questions in the dark.
“What if all this isn’t real?”
“What if it’s just bread and grape juice after all?”
“What if my baptism was just...wet?”
“What if it’s all, all, all real, but I’m not chosen? What if it’s all real and I’m locked outside the gate forever?”
“What if it’s all a trick? What if this really is just a man-made religion and what if the truest truth is ultimately unknowable?”
“All those people at church, they’re the ones who really belong. They are sure of the things you will never know. They are so safe. They really have each other, you can’t ever get in, not really, not with the voice trouble. You’ll never be like them.”
Here comes the kicker:
“You don’t belong there. If they knew the truth about you and your doubts and all the things you still don’t know for sure, and all the things you can’t quit thinking, saying, doing, not doing, they wouldn’t want you around, wouldn’t want you singing in the choir, wouldn’t want you rocking their babies in the nursery, wouldn’t want your feet under their tables. You need to pull back, go dark, just until you figure out how to sort this doubt stuff out or at least learn to be a better pretender.”
Do those words sound familiar to you? Do you know that voice? If you don’t yet, you will. That voice comes for all of us eventually and for some of us, continually.
Did you hear me? I said we all know the voice.
The cat is out of the bag.
The secret is on the table, right in the center. Open up the window and let some light in now, why don’t you.
That voice that shames you? Mocks you? Pushes you out, out, out? That voice that brings up all your old news and calls you by your old name? That voice does not belong to the God who chose you before the beginning of the first day of this world. That voice does not belong to the Creator God who gave you the shape of your nose, the half moon at the base of your fingernails, your particular way of living, moving, and being in the world, right there in your very body, that is altogether glorious, altogether unique, altogether needed in the Kingdom of Light.
That voice does not belong to the Shepherd God, who promises to follow you all the way to the end, no matter how far you wander or how often you long to go.
That voice does not belong to the Mother God, the God who longs to bring you in, in, in, always closer to Her side, always tucked and safe and warm and with, with, with.
Since I have already been so bold in telling you what the voice of your God does not say to you, or of you, I hope you won’t be shocked if I tell you some of the things I think your God is actually communicating in His word, by His Spirit, and through His people. This is the news of the boundless riches of Christ and it’s meant for you.
You are fully loved and already chosen.
You, you with the big dark doubts and the grief and anger and that cold, numb heart, you too, you are sealed in a covenant that can’t be broken apart.
You don’t have to be worthy, because He’s got you covered.
But if unworthy, unworthy, unworthy is the drumbeat of your heart, I think God would want you to hear me say that unworthy was never your name. I think He would have me rebuke the one who whispered it to you and send the demons back to Hell with all of that noise.
You are held fast in His hand, He’ll never cast you out.
Your name is written, and it can’t be erased.
According to the riches of his glory, and in spite of all the pain and suffering that you have known here, may you be granted strength in your inner being with all power,, and may the Spirit of the resurrected Christ dwell in your hearts through the gift of tiny, baby, mustard seed faith. May you know and believe that mustard seed faith is all that has ever been asked of you. May you notice a stirring, or at least a shushing, in your own spirit, as you are growing new roots of your own here, with us. Because look around, we are here, against all odds, and all our roots are growing down deep together, and hard to untangle now, praise be to God! May you find yourself becoming more rooted and grounded in the deep and fierce love of the suffering Christ and that you will, at least sometimes, have the power to comprehend, with all the saints before you and behind you, what is the breadth and length of the love of your Christ. I pray that it will be that love that surpasses all your shiniest and best knowledge, all your secret and dreadful doubts, all your nagging, unanswerable questions, all your grief, and anger. May it all be surpassed by your experience of the love of Christ wherever you find yourself, and on your way as you go.
And now to Christ, who by the power at work with you, is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.