It’s about the relationship, not the religion

Three Sundays ago, 8/3/14, I woke up in an incredible state of Peace. All of a sudden, I just felt like God had placed me in a Peace Trance. Nothing could rock my boat. I knew that no matter what happened – from a broken nail to a broken bone to World War 3 – everything was going to be okay. I could feel the steady rock underneath the coursing waves. It was surreal. It was confusing! It was incredible.

I still feel that way today, and have every day since. God has put me here and I am beyond thankful. Because it is other-worldly and it is amazing.

But because I’m human, two weeks ago there was a seizing moment of, “What is this all for?” Even with the transcendent peace, I wondered, “Why do I believe?” Why, when ISIS is terrorizing the world? When two friends miscarry on the same day? When active shooters abound and my 10-year-old neighbor is afraid to school because he thinks, “I might get shot.” (true story) When prayers are being answered with, “No”, hearts are breaking, curses are repeating, relationships are dying, and the faces of Christianity are being ousted for inappropriate and unethical behavior. The heart cries out to a loving, all-knowing God but feels forgotten, ignored, and even mocked.

rbrb_2701Walking away seems like the best option. No more worshiping this entity who throws us under the bus. I defend this faith, and this is what I have to show for it? Hypocrites for peers and a bleeding heart? Why is that worth my time?

Because sunshine exists alongside the shadows.

Because light exists to shut out the dark.

Because evil is, because good is.

Because He never promised me a rose garden. Eve kind of ruined that one for us.

Because it’s a relationship, not a religion. It’s a father-daughter, bride-groom, giver-receiver, God-not God relationship. And not knowing everything and the reasons for everything is comforting. Haven’t you ever seen “Early Edition” or “Bruce Almighty”? Having God’s knowledge (or job) is S.T.R.E.S.S.F.U.L.

My relationship is with a God who says no sometimes, but always for good reason. Think of all the times you’ve wanted something, were disappointed when it didn’t work out, but ended up saying to yourself, “Man, thank God that didn’t work out!”

My relationship is with a Heavenly Father. It’s a relationship, not a religion, which gives me the space to be mad at and rail against Him, but I will come back to His transcendent peace. I can ask Him why, and sometimes He might actually tell me, but regardless, I will come back to His transcendent peace. I can stop worshiping for awhile because I just don’t feel like it, and because I just don’t feel like it’s worth it, but I will always come back to His transcendent peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Maybe it’s more heartbreaking sometimes to believe in and have a relationship with God, because we ask for peace and grace and mercy every day, yet some days are the complete opposite. But I’d rather have a relationship with a God who loves me, then go at it alone and leave my heart out for the world to pick up and ravage. And it’s not always easy on this side, but it’s good. His love is good. It’s not always emotionally safe, it’s not a happiness guarantee, but it’s good and it’s true. His love and promises are true. And at least after He breaks my heart, my God works to repair it. Because it’s a relationship, not a religion.

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