(The Parentheses Post)

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Life has been crazy lately with little time for definite thought between one thing, and the next. Yet the few thoughts I have had- the ones I’ve carved out time for- have been continuation of a thought process I’ve been traversing for quite some time.  I want more. I want to go deeper, and not just be  the one that everyone sees as a good Christian. (Not that I’m necessarily just that…it’s hard to explain.)  I want to eliminate obligatory fluff I’ve been wasting my time on. I want to make mistakes, ask questions, and follow my own quest because I’ve yet to find anyone that I actually know in ‘real life’ who will go with me.

I’m not entirely sure if this is making sense. If not, please don’t hesitate to ask, and I will try to explain. Anyways, back to what I was saying, I can’t find anyone to go with me, and I have looked. Accountability is hard to find, and people who will vulnerably go beyond surface theoretical theology are rarer. I’ve tried, and I’ve sought, but the only results are things that fill up my time; that leave me less                                               time for delving  beyond that which is spiritually obvious to me.

I have to make time for God time, just as I  have to make time for blogging, thinking, and writing (other things that are exponentially valuable to me, a.k.a. keep me sane). I sacrifice school, family, and sleep time to make room, so I need to be using my time with God in the most fulfilling, and beneficial way possible. I’m about to add a college class on to the load; I had better have my priorities straight. The forecast for summer is always less busy in theory, but this year the craziness has already overtaken more of my breaktime than I would like.

I don’t say all this for sympathy; I know that we are all busy, or at least that most people I know are run more ragged than they should be able to stand. I write this because it is a part of my journey, and because I would selfishly ask some of your precious time for prayer, as I seek to wisely  reprioritize, and get rid of the expected, but unnecessary in my time with God. I’ve come to realize lately how short a time I have left in this season, and how much more I need to grasp in God before I can say that I’m able to stand on my own two feet (not entirely, mind you, but more than before). And that is all I have to say for now. I shall try to keep you posted on my ‘forgetting what lies behind, and striving for what is ahead.’  Please, feel free to share where you are in your journey as well. Let’s do this together, at least virtually, because honestly I can’t do this alone.

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Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “(The Parentheses Post)

  1. Nastya Andreyevna

    But nobody can do this alone!

    If we get to meet, I’ll go with you in real life. I’ll go with you virtually until then and we shall test those theoretically theological surfaces. 🙂 And I will pray for you, that you will keep focused and that we’ll both make the most of the time we’ve got.

    • Yes, it is impossible to do alone. I value your prayers more than you can know, and am sending some back in your way as well.

      In Him, togather, we can do this thing.

      P.S. I’m starting to dream up travel plans for the summer after this one. 😉 We shall see…

  2. Good to see another post here.

    I’m not entirely sure if this is making sense.” I think I understand, for what that is worth.

    I want to eliminate obligatory fluff I’ve been wasting my time on” The desire to seek God and know Him more deeply is very commendable. I would encourage you to continue pursuing this more and more.

    I can’t find anyone to go with me, and I have looked.” You are not alone in that experience.

    It seems to me this is a common experience when someone decides they want to go “beyond the surface” and I ponder why it is so. If you look at the narrative story of godly people in the Bible it is generally about one person seeking God (or being called by Him) in spite of what everyone else is doing. Jesus, and his serving and seeking God in spite of his earthly family’s doubts and unbelief and the resistance of everyone (at times, even including his disciples–hello Peter!) is the ultimate example. But you can see the same in the prophets of old, and leaders, who had to go alone and sometimes they were followed–sometimes not. The being alone was pretty hard on Elijah–made him want to die.

    I think a lot could be drawn from pondering these things. I would say God often requires us to walk alone because He wants us to learn to trust in Him, depend upon Him alone, and be willing to suffer the reproof of others for His sake. As it is said in a hymn, “Though no one join me, still I will follow.”

    Accountability is hard to find” Remember, you are accountable to God. He is your accountability partner!

    It is good to have like-minded, God seeking, people in our lives. As it is said, “Two are better than one […] A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). That being said, I find myself uneasy with where some Christians take the idea of “Accountability.” What I hear/read from some people sounds like a doctrine/law of accountability where you can’t live a proper Christian life or do anything without having your special accountability partner to keep you safe from sin. The Bible doesn’t say that. Paul often traveled with company, but sometimes he was alone (like his initial time in Athens, see Acts 17:15-34). And nowhere is a teaching about an “accountability partner” laid down in the New Testament. It seems to be a popular topic with little direct Biblical evidence for what people so stridently state. I see people talking about how they can’t do things without an accountability partner and I imagine them coming before the throne of God at the end of the age and telling God, “I would have done XYZ for you God, but you didn’t give me an accountability partner!” and God looks at them and says, “What do you mean I didn’t give you an accountability partner? I am your accountability partner! I gave you my Spirit to keep you accountable!”

    I am not saying that as a criticism of you at all–just sharing some observations from my life.

    people who will vulnerably go beyond surface theoretical theology are rarer.” That is very true. Going beyond the surface takes work, it isn’t always fun, and it can make you vulnerable and humbled when your lack of knowledge and understanding is exposed. So why bother with all of that? It’s so much easier sticking to the shallow end of the theological pool where there is plenty of company.

    I’m not trying to be discouraging by saying these things–far from it! The desire to know God deeper is something I would like to encourage–but from my point in the walk I also want to share realistically. From my experience the things you speak of desiring do not come quickly, easily, or necessarily exactly in the ways we expect. In measure it can be frustrating, difficult, discouraging, and painful. And certainly following this path is not the way to win friends and gain influence!

    The world encourages apathy, shallowness, and conformity. If you don’t follow that, you’ll be rowing against the current all your life.

    There is no magical three-point plan to a deeper knowledge of God. That being said, I will share three things that seem important to me.

    (1) Pray. Ask God to teach you, and reveal more of himself to you. Prayer is just plan good (obviously!) but I think it is important to acknowledge that knowing God better is not something we accomplish by our efforts, but something God graciously gives to those who earnestly ask Him. So I think it is right to both ask God to reveal Himself and teach you because that is the only way you will grow in the truth, and to regularly acknowledge that all knowledge and truth you have is only as the result of His gifts, not your efforts. It is important to remain humble.

    (2) Read the Bible. This may sound harsh, but in general I think devotional reading books are unhelpful for growing in a deeper understanding. I do not mean that all devotionals say untrue things. Some may say many true things, but as a genre they encourage shallow thinking instead of pointing people toward struggling with the deep and difficult truths of Scripture. There are many thoughtful books outside the “devotional” genre written by Christian people which can be worthwhile to read (and I have read, do read, and do recommend some at times)–but the Bible should come before all of them. Read the Bible, immerse yourself in it, study it. Any other book you read ought to be judged by the Bible, so know your Bible intimately.

    (3) Ask Questions. It is discouraging how few questions people ask. For some silence comes because of apathy, for others it comes because of fear. It is scary to ask questions. It means admitting you don’t know the answers. It means not accepting trite answers, or toeing the party line. People will try to get you to stop asking questions, and you will want to give up asking questions and just go with the flow–but questions are important! Question yourself, question what is around you, and ask questions of the Bible. In all these, look and listen for God’s answer (not man’s answer, or man’s tradition, or man’s approval!).

    I find myself falling short in all three of these areas. They are worth returning to daily. Seeking to know God deeper is not a one time event, but a daily choice, a life choice, that involves getting up after each failure and walking again. It is knowing that God is faithful, even though we fail. It is not easy, it will not make you many friends, and it is often lonely. But it is worth it. Of that I am convinced.

    I will pray that God will give you wisdom and grace on this journey.

    As a fellow Christian who also desires to go beyond surface things I want to throw out the offer: If you ever have questions, please feel free to share. I am glad to interact with the thoughts and questions of others. (Fair warning: You may not always agree with me, and some feel I go too far into the deep end of theology. But if you are willing to risk that, and at some time have questions you wish for another view on, I also am one who desires to walk the less traveled road.)

    Okay…only half related to that, (at best) but responding to your post started me thinking about something I wrote recently. I was asked to critique a book and I wrote this as my response. Most of the topics covered therein are probably not where your thoughts are at currently, though some points might incidentally stir your thoughts, I don’t know. Just throwin the link out there in case you’re curious about how I wade into the deeper things, and have some in your busy life to read what is probably the longest letter you have ever seen.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. No discouragement taken, in fact I’ll take just the oppisite. Your words always come across as a building up, and I appriciate that. You are right, there is no magical three step solution, which is (I think) what makes the journey so individual. Even though there are things that are necessary for growth and godliness, like the three you pointed out above people relate to God in different ways.But of course we have to be careful not to go too far on that line of thought. No ‘tradition’ can replace God’s word.

      Anyways, sinci I was slightly off topic there…I must agree it is worth it, though I always fall short I could not believe anything else. I cannot give my life to anything else.Temporary fulfillment isn’t worth it.

      As far as discussion I will definately take you up on opportunities for discussion. I am anxiose to see your opinions on the two topics I’ve brought up in my latest post. Though we may disagree iron sharpens iron, and I highly value a good discussion, or respectful debate, and have been involved in my share of them. But I do have to be careful right now with so much on my plate that I don’t get too involved in that type of thing.Because I want to give ideas the time I deserve I often shortchange other things such as school or sleep dispite the fact that that isn’t wise.

      About what you said regarding devotional books: I tend to agree. I am participating in one such study right now, and often don’t feel like I get as much out of it as just the plain word. The fact is that the Bible is alive and active, sharper than a two edged sword piercing between bone and marrow; heart and soul. Devotional books simply can’t match that. I must confess that I did not read all of your letter, but I did read some of it. And, although I did not read the book I am inclined to say that I agree with some of what you said, and disagreed sith some too.

      While I’m talking about books I may as well add that I got Farenheit 451 yesterday at the library through interlibrary lone,and have read the two introductions, and the first chapter, or episode (I’m not sure what to call those). It is extreamly fascinateing, just as I thought it would be from the quote on your blog. Thanks for introducing me. Also, I managed to squeeze in time to read The Giver a week or two ago, and thouraghly enjoyed the concepts presented in it as well.

  3. Glad you had a chance to read The Giver!

    As far as that letter is concerned, I knew it was unlikely that you would have time to read the entire letter. In linking to it I didn’t intend to make you feel like you ought too. It’s nearly fifty pages long and the central dispute is not on a topic immediately germane to your current ponderings. I linked to it more as a curiousity, in case you were curious for a view of the differing tone and writing style used to address a different venue.

    But I do have to be careful right now with so much on my plate that I don’t get too involved in that type of thing.Because I want to give ideas the time I deserve I often shortchange other things such as school or sleep dispite the fact that that isn’t wise.” I am glad you desire to give ideas the time they deserve. You are right that proper stewardship of your time is important, and I understand the need to control obsessive tendencies. Not only did I spend a very large amount of time writing the letter referenced in the previous comment, but I lost many more hours of sleep at night laying in bed thinking about the issues and questions, how to formulate thoughts into words, address objections and questions, etc, etc. (Talk about obsession!) I found it maddening, and wished I could shut my mind down so I could sleep!

    However, to balance the matter out, I would point out that the willingness to sacrifice sleep and school in a persuit of knowing God is not necessairly a bad thing. Don’t be too self-critical in that regard. There can be a time and a place for foregoing a little sleep or a little schoolwork for a pursuit of God.

    That being said, I agree that engaging in lengthy debates is often not the wisest things to do, and can easily become a poor use of time. Sometimes the most helpful thing is to make sure you understand correctly what the other person has said, and just store it away to ponder and reflect upon at later times. Such a course can save time, and unnecessary words.

    I have found in the past that sometimes I have engaged in a heated disagreement with someone and when I later “cooled down” and reflected on the issue I discovered more merit, and less disagreement with the opposition than I had felt in the heat of the moment of disagreement. Then there have been other times where after I have stepped back and thought about a disagreement I realized the two positions could not be reconciled and so the matter was better left as it stood.

    Which is a long way of saying I hope I don’t come across in any future comments as trying to drag you into a debate. I desire to present thoughts in a way that encourages reflection, and I hope I present a demeanor that makes you comfortable with asking for clarification when desired and questioning any points you find uncertain.

    I appreciate thoughtful critique where someone explains how they see my view as wrong or flawed, (so you shouldn’t ever worry about offending me with disagreement) but that sort of exchange often ends up consuming huge amounts of time and you shouldn’t feel obligated to that kind of debate at all. You should not feel any obligation to sink any more time into a discussion than your own heart desires. The hoped for result is tallking about things in an edifying way. You know best both what is troubling your heart, and what requires your time (and rest!)

    I’m still learning this whole edifying conversation thing myself. (Particularly bervity, haha.)

    Rest assured, I don’t find it offensive at all if someone says, “Thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I can’t commit any more time to the discussion now, but will think about what has been said,” ….and leaves it at that.

    I am anxiose to see your opinions on the two topics I’ve brought up in my latest post./em>” Then I shall have to march over to that post and put on my thinking cap!

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