over the past few years i have been processing a great deal of life – some great, some good and some not so good – but life never the less. in that processing, i have been thinking a great deal about my faith journey and what God is doing to refine my faith walk. when i think of my faith journey some very important words come to mind, and help me in the process – let me share with you a few of the words that have great meaning to me:
forgiveness: i start with forgiveness because i believe it to be the most important thing that i as a follower must offer to others. to me, this is the most important part of my faith. i see forgiveness as so central to my journey that without it i feel i can easily walk off the path. for me, this is my forgiving those who have done me wrong, and knowing i am forgiven for the wrongs i have done others – believe it or not, in my heart, forgiveness starts and flows from God – i can not forgive on my own, i need to be in a constant relationship with Christ to truly express forgiveness to others – i need to trust in Christ to guide my heart to truly wanting to forgive those who have hurt me – while it is hard, i believe it is not impossible. i need to keep in mind that if i do not forgive others, i will never be forgiven my sins.
grace: this is me acting in kindness, finding a kind way of expressing thoughts that may see different then the ones held by others. it has not always been my strongest reality, but it is one i am trying hard to develop. you see, i can tell the truth in all cases and with grace i can make that truth meaningful, without hurting the feelings of others.
caring: i need to be ready to go that extra mile for others, even when i do not want to – and i have to admit that i have failed on this one big time. you see, sometimes [many times] i am unwilling to go that extra mile – i am unwilling to give of myself to the point where it is uncomfortable. interestingly, i have found that i am willing to help those i see as “being in need” but i am less likely to help those i see as “not needing” – i will give a homeless man some money, but am i willing to give to a man who has all? to be “caring” to me means we need to redefine what we see as “needs” and know that without Christ we are all in need.
love: believe it or not, love is not “high” on my list of words, not because it is not important, but because i believe we can not truly love until we forgive, care, and show grace to those around us – some would say that before we can do all that we need to love – but for me in my journey, i find loving someone as easy – i find caring for them, showing grace to them and forgiving them hard. for me, in my journey, i have found love to be over rated and fleeting.
acceptance: this may seem like grace, but i think it is deeper and harder. you see, we can show “grace” to a gay or lesbian, but can we accept them for who they are? we are quick to discount the “lifestyle” as “against a christian life style” but we have to ask – so are many other things we ignore. one pastor friend said, “God said he hated homosexuals” so we can not allow them into the church – ok, but the palmist tells us that God hates all who do wrong [plms 5:5]. so if we use what God hates as a bar from the church, we would have some pretty empty churches – oh, wait we do.
optimism: i just can not have a negative attitude when it comes to my faith – i have to see the good things in life. too much of our faith is based on what we are against, but it should be measured by what we are for. if we are for very little, we then need to rethink our faith and determine what it is we believe in.
journey: faith for me is not a destination, it is a journey – a walk, a rose i travel to find my way and experience how God works in my daily walk. if we view our faith as a destination, we stop our journey when we think we have arrived. if we say, “accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you will have eternal life” and “eternal life” is our destination, then simply by accepting Jesus we have arrived at our destination and the faith journey is over – so, for me, i need to rethink what it means to “accept Jesus as my lord and savior” not as a destination, but as a starting point where i work out my salvation in fear and trembling.
life: too many followers i know just do not like life – and man, we need to truly enjoy life. i seek to embrace it and live among God’s people – i seek to express my life in words, art, song and deeds – i seek to eat at the table of life and feast on all that God has made – we need to stop acting like we were pickled upon baptism, and start acting like we truly have a new life in Christ.
unity: i seek to find the common ideas between us, and not seek out the differences. we have spent years looking for what divides us as a faith group and we need to stop and find our united center again.
fluid: things flow, and God sends waves of change into our lives. if i am unwilling to see the waves, i can not be doing what God asks of me – so i need to be fluid in my ideas, expressions and direction – totally and completely open to the powers of God.