Sunday, December 04, 2005

I Hear Voices

With my head tilted to the side, I strain to hear something in the stillness, sensing that just beyond my ability to hear, there is direction, instruction, clarity.

Occasionally I grasp bits of understanding, sometimes a moment of revelation, at other times recognition of God's voice in the words of others.

The way God spoke to me through your comments on the last post was really encouraging to me. I find myself hesitant, but still wanting to believe that God is involved in this transition we find ourselves in.

cindy pointed out, "I'm afraid your bowl is more crowded than you realize..."

So, let me share some other voices from the fishbowl.

First, keeping it real, david says, "Well, in my case, I am rebellious, independent, crazy and weird." I'll admit to the possibility of a smidgen of those things being true about me also.

I find myself resonating with these thoughts. "I wonder if it is not God Himself prodding us out so that we may continue on in the transformation of becoming the beloved bride of Christ," Pam said.

aj concludes, "Maybe we're going through some adolescent growing pains - things that ache and hurt but are necessary as we mature to become the people we're called to be in Christ."

Along those lines, bruce said, "Maybe our unhappiness is a result of God speaking to us, telling us there is more to this life, and to church, than we've come to expect. Or more than we've always been told."

Perhaps the spirit of God is stirring in our midst. It is encouraging to see that others are responding to the stirring also.

lily commented, "We each have our own journey, our own place to return to, but it's comforting to know there are others who heard the call and are also willing to risk themselves in order to answer the call."

She's right, we will all have our own journey. The big question for many of us remains to be answered. What will that journey look like?

shelley said, "I have been reading 'emergent' stuff for a year or more, and sometimes find myself shouting, Yes! That's It! Yes! But I just don't know what to do with it."

kelly continues, "the options seem so limited when you look at the stage model.. God is not limited, and i just have to keep reminding myself of that."

Also reimagining, jon adds, "Just in the process now of breaking down some of my old conceptions of how church should run and reimagine things a bit. Should be interesting to see what God will do with all of this.

Bob reassures us that, "eventually deconstruction does lead somewhere- if God is in and around it."

fr'nklin wonders, "So many people have told me I'm a "change agent"...but I no longer have the heart for it."

And understanding that tension, robbymac said, "it hurts like forty bears (Canuckian expression) to be crushed over and over while trying to be an instigator of change."

I am still very hesitant to encourage anyone in a church to abandon ship, and sometimes I'm afraid that my posts sound that way. I understand feeling like you are on the Titanic is frustrating, but floating alone in this dinghy is not a picnic either.

Robby also said, "I'm NOT going to sacrifice my kids' spiritual lives on the altar of my discontent -- they want to go; we go. But our expectations are completely different."

traci referring to her church experience said, "I think this time we see things in a different way."

I think whether you find yourself in the institutional church or outside of it, when your vision for the church has changed, your expectations change also.

I honestly don't think dismantling the old is the answer. As I sat in church today, I realized that the majority of people there would be at a loss without the church they understand. They have had no teaching about living in a missional way. I don't think very many would pick up the ball and run with it on their own.

Some final words of wisdom from rhymes:
"I'm no bible scholar but it seems to me that the wilderness was always a precursor to a significant shift in the historical landscape. Moses tending Jethro's sheep, the Israelites, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul... It really makes me wonder if there's a monumental, world-sized shift just beyond our horizon. Some would say that's already happening, but yet here we are, still in the wilderness. It's anybody's guess what happens next."

If God is leading people out, so be it. He is also able to lead them into where they fit in His Body.


allison said...

I love Bruce's comment about suggesting that God may be pointing out, calling us to MORE. Didn't Jesus, 2000 years ago?

David Cho said...

The idea of the wilderness seems to resonate with a lot of people, but yet it feels very lonely. How could it be?

Cindy said...

Maybe 'cause the wilderness is just so dog-gone big, and dry. And everybody else there feels tired and weak, too.

fr'nklin said...

So interesting to read so many different reactions. My wife and I had a long/tearful discussion about our church experience and how we see it affect our kids (5 kids, 5 - 15 years old). I continue to contend that one hour a week is not the answer...and that our involvement in their lives and bringing them to Jesus is what matters.

I say those things...and believe them...all the while wrestling w/ my own fears. My kids are asking me hard questions...and most of the answers don't lead them TO the institutional church. I'm afraid, even though I see them growing spiritually. So Robby's comments hit me the hardest...

Kelly said...

i have thought a lot about that "world-sized shift" that is just on the horizon lately.

it's amazing to me the amount of people i've met (in person and via the blogosphere) who all have similar feelings and ideas about church and spirituality and God and how things are not quite how they should be...

God has to be there in the midst of it all urging people forward by giving them a shared need...

yet, i still feel a little unsure most of this journey toward discovery.

Cindy said...

I keep having this thought. It's probably wrong, and to be honest, I'd appreciate it if somebody will kindly prove me wrong. But the thought is that there have been a lot of times when hopeful, even desperate people were sure God was on the verge of doing something big, but it never turns out the way they expect or hope.

I was just talking to my Jr Hi SS class yesterday about the 400 years between the OT and NT. How the people were waiting confidently, assuredly for THE ONE to show up and lead them into victory over the Romans. To free them from lives of desperation; to give them hope again; to see their hopefulness and have mercy.

God did see their misery, their hopefulness, and He did have mercy. But to most them God's answer was an utter disappointment and failure, because He did it wrong.

I have these warning notes going off in my brain to be careful not to ascribe to God what I know He needs to do. I see and feel what you guys feel. And I want to hope and expect God to do something. Then I look back at the expectation of the people 2000 years ago, and I wonder if I'm going to miss what God is doing because my expectations are so well formed.

Bruce said...

Cindy, that was great. I loved the line, "But to most them God's answer was an utter disappointment and failure, because He did it wrong." How our expectations of what God should and would do have been proved wrong (by our standards) over and over. God is moving...but He seems to be moving in the quiet our individual souls and not so much in the thunder of "organized" religion. Churches are missing a great opportunity in not allowing us to sing in harmony, but trying to force us to sing in unison. God be with all our struggles and journeys.


Bruce said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pam Hogeweide said...

The wilderness is not such a bad thing. Lots of good stuff is accomplished in the wanderings of the wilderness. Jesus returned from the wilderness filled with power. And I love the verse in Song of Solomon,8:5, Who is this, coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?"

Maybe the system of church is being broken so we will discover how to lean into Jesus and also one another, instead of leaning on procedures and techniques.

(Grace, welcome back! I hope your back keeps healing up)

Lily said...

Hi Grace,

I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to come here and find so much encouragment. I especially love what Shelly said about "reading 'emergent' stuff for a year or more, and sometimes find myself shouting, Yes! That's It! Yes! But I just don't know what to do with it."

That's me. I can't yet bring myself to go back, I can't seem to move a foot forward into someplace new, and I am left wondering why I have so strongly felt these winds of change and yet they don't seem to be taking me anywhere. When is God going to move me?

So blog my process and I come places like this, looking for hope and encouragement, and I so often find it. Thanks Grace.

Lily said...

Oh, I don't want to be a comment monopolizer, but I also loved what Pam said about the wilderness and church being broken so we learn to lean on Jesus. That's very much what I've experienced in this season. (Hi Pam!)

I find as time goes by, I have discovered a very different Jesus, one who is not clouded by ritual and works. I almost feel betrayed by all the years of being fed and sold a church-faced-Jesus instead of a Jesus-faced-church. But I realize and appreciate that I have been rescued in a way, set free to know Him for who He wants to be for me, instead of knowing him as a prepackaged, one-size-fits-all Jesus.

grace said...

So many great comments about perspective and expectation.

If I think of the wilderness as a place to meet with God, to be separated to stillness, it becomes a place of hope and purpose.

Whether our journey leads us out of church or not, it is probably most healthy to attend church without the expectation that it is our sole expression of the life of Christ in us.

I think it's very possible to attend church and to raise our children to appreciate the community, but also to come alongside and teach them a bigger picture of kingdom life.

Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts on all of this as we journey "who knows where?"