Faster Turnaround Times

Thursday, 12 March 2009

I remember when I used to venture into the deep dark parts of the bible that scared the daylights out me - ie the book of Revelation - it would send me off into freak-out land for days and weeks on end. The land of, "This doesn't feel right to me. But that's what it says! All that judgment stuff. It says it right there that God is going to go sick with a giant wrecking ball and kill the whole world and it will be so unbearable everyone will go insane! Well, then, if God is like that I don't want anything to do with him." And go and have a bong. That sort of thing. But keep getting drawn back despite the fears of thinking God seemed like a psycho tyrant.

And so I would rail around, part of me thinking, "Oh, I dunno about this. Half of this doesn't even feel true to me in my head or heart. It feels in my marrow like I am not seeing this right." And whatever personal experience I had had of God - no divine apparitions on the ceiling, but definite senses of presence, and something even more fundamental than that, as if all the molecules swirling around in my body were in tandem with those without and they all spoke to me of God and the oneness of everything. The renewal of things. And so what I read was often in conflict with what I was experiencing. How could God go sick on the world in such a crazy sort of way that sat ill-defined like mental illness in the future, but expect me to trust him? What sort of a father is that?

I still go backwards and forwards on that sort of thing, only not as wildly these days. There is a surety that was hard to hang onto before. The difference these days is that my faith in God's good character has only grown, by testing, and the room for the questions and doubts has been just as healing as the removal of those things along the way. I've come to some conclusions about certain biblical verses that had me perplexed. I've come to sit well with the mystery of God - which has only grown greater - but I just know, in my spirit where it counts, that I can trust this God. There is nothing scientific about this. This is pure subjection. I have nothing else to go on but that and believe, personally, that there is nothing else I can have but that.

And yet these days, when I come across those "God is coming in judgment" sort of things (not that it happens all that often, I must say), they still have the power to bend me out of shape. Yesterday it was reading some words by David Wilkerson about civil unrest he believes is coming in cities worldwide, a judgment from God, he believes. I would have read those things so differently a decade ago it boggles my brain to wonder how I am going to see them a decade from now. Where I once saw judgment as some sort of horrible apartness aspect of God that was separate from his love - annihilation - now I see as freedom for us to go on our ways and do what we want to do and to see the results of our actions. I see the horrible harshness of reality and yes, I do consider those to be judgments of God if you see judgment as being some sort of a severe mercy. I just don't think we are in a nursery here with big daddy God to come and rescue us from all of our mistakes. Sometimes the only way you can learn is through a branding iron. (Of course, I don't think God never comes in and rescues us from our mistakes. I actually believe that we will see more of that going on in the future. But I also believe that a great part of that is learning to "see" more than anything else. We have as many scales over our eyes as a fishmonger market. Sometimes I wonder if we had all the scales removed if it would not simply solve everything?)

Anyway, honestly, these days, what I believe doesn't feel as important to me as what is, ultimately, and hanging on to that - God and his love and his care for what he has made. These days, I feel like my faith has grown stronger whle growing smaller at the same time. It's weird - like it's getting smaller and compacting down and getting hard, like a mustard seed, and meanwhile all around me are great giant wads of I don't know what the hell I think is going on. I just don't know anymore and it confuses and upsets me so I cry but that's okay. If the mystery was able to be worked out in 16 years then what sort of mystery would it be, huh??

Not that the doctrines and ideas and worldviews aren't important - they're everything. But they are seen in the greater light of knowing God personally for yourself, in that intangible, ineffable way that is difficult to speak of. I got bible slapped online last night by someone who has obviously been reading their bibles a fair bit and who knows their doctrines, but I wonder what their personal view of God is considering they had the sort of spiritually milky immature arrogance that goes along with the sort of Christian we have all been on the harsh tail end of and probably most of us on the head end of too. And so again I am reminded of clanging cymbals and all of that stuff and of what it all boils down to in the end - love God, love others.

Still, the worldview changes feel like they have come from the relationship spent with God as I am able to experience him, from all of that "working out your salvation with fear and trembling," trying to sort out where everything fits (partial preterist at the moment), trying to work out if you can trust this God. That's part of the reason why my turnaround times were longer in the past - the turnaround from "Oh, my, I think God is going to send me to hell any second if I step out of line" to "I am of the dust. I am human and he knows that. I know that he knows that because I know that he knows the worst in me. And he hasn't gone away yet. And he is good, and he is love, though he is not a tame lion." And I think it takes years and years of becoming more willing to see what really is. It takes guts to see what is. But the turnaround times have whittled themselves right down now to something like a day of running in cosmic fear and asking those sorts of fearful questions and coming to comforted and secure answers. And that feels like some sort of a miracle to me. And I have this feeling now of comfort, that each time it happens I see a bit clearer something of what happens on the other side of the bad, the salvation and healing that comes on his wings. And that definitely feels like some sort of miracle to me, too.


  1. Beautiful, sister. I like to say "God knows we're stupid".

    One thing I've wondered about the whole wrath of God thing and Revelation is this...maybe those things are what will happen when humans are left to our own devices? Maybe it's God simply saying these are the things that will happen because we are stupid and don't take care of things like we should. I dunno, you know I'm no scholar, just working it out.

  2. I recall hearing the Book of Revelation had more to do with church-state problems in the early years which they interpreted at the time as signs of the end times. Whatever.
    I tend to think we pay mindgames over God. God is so much simpler than we imagine, so much more loving and creative. We create our own apocalypse and hellfire when we give up on that love.

  3. Erin - thank you. Yes, I am beginning to see it more like that rather than God thundering down from his Zeuslike heavens, it's us momumentally stuffing everything up. "God knows we're stupid" - haha :) Totally!! :)

    Barbara - yes, there is that interpretation, the preterist position (although I cannot claim full preterism because the book of Rev seems to span far past that particular time, but who knows?

    Yes, I agree. Giving up the love just leaves us as husks who don't believe they are husks. Scary combination :)

  4. "It takes guts to see what is." Wow -- yes. Thank you for writing this. I found your blog via Communitas, and I will read more, but right now it's 12:37am and I must retire soon. I'm going to follow. Many blessings to you from a fellow pursuer of grace and truth.


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