I’ve found myself at a major crossroads recently. I love Jesus. I love our church community. I’m rediscovering the Bible. I’m finding myself experiencing the spirit of God in a much deeper way.
And yet, I find myself shifting away from the evangelical church. I am less able to experience God or connect with Him in the ways I have in the past.
I used to believe in a God of certainty. Now I believe in a God of mystery.
And why? Because of the darkest day of my life.
You see, for a long time, I was what gets labelled now as a traditional, evangelical Christian. I was brought up in a methodist church, and discovered the more charismatic evangelical church at university. And at the time it seemed progressive.
New. Fresh. Alive.
And I loved it. I experienced the power of the spirit. I prayed in tongues. I fell over. I prayed for others and they fell over. I worshipped with my hands in the air, and found deep intimacy with the divine.
I never questioned my beliefs or the theology around them. I’d been brought up at church to believe certain things, assumed certain things because everyone else believed them, and listened to who I was told were good preachers. There was never any doubting or questioning from anyone. A God of certainty.
But then my Mum died. And this, in hindsight, changed everything.
I’ve now come to see how our real life changing moments are the ‘traumatic’ events – circumstances or experiences which shake us out of our current reality, with no way of going back to how things were. (you can tweet that)
And Mum dying was certainly one of those.
Suddenly, the concept of God I had, the God I had been in relationship with, wasn’t big enough for me. All the certainty was gone. And none of the cheesy worship songs felt in touch with reality anymore. I had questions and doubts. I needed a God bigger than the one I was being told about at church.
I needed an authentic God who I could have real conversations with. A God not trapped in an idealised fantasy about the world, but fully participating, aware and concerned about the real, messy and painful world I and others were part of.
I couldn’t find any answers or any safe space to explore this. For years.
And then I came across the book ‘Velvet Elvis’.
Opening Our Eyes
‘Velvet Elvis’, by Rob Bell, spoke about doubt. It spoke about questioning God. It spoke about a God who was big enough for the difficult conversations I wanted to have about faith. I read the book in one sitting, in two hours – which I’ve not done with any book before or since. As I read, I began to see, at last, that I was not alone in my journey.
Around the time I read this book I found a church where questioning was welcome. Where I could be vulnerable and honest about the faith I was exploring. Where I could explore questions and doubts freely. It was home, from day one.
And now, 10 years later, I’m still there. I’m still growing. I’ve not stopped moving forward.
Ironically, I’m at a point now where I’m learning as much about God from psychology and science as I am from scripture. I’ve been learning how concepts like minimalism, vulnerability, astro physics, and the science of consciousness – spiral dynamics – are all simply dimensions of spirituality.
And the interesting thing is, I’ve found that the more I am learning about all these subjects, the more I’m finding myself drawn back to scripture. But now with a wider and deeper perspective.
Above all, I’ve been learning how to see the divine in all things. Exploring a more integrated, non-dual, interconnected spirituality, which is about reconciliation, not one side against another.
This process has, without doubt, broadened my view of God, and deepened my faith.
I’m discovering a deeper, bigger, non-dual spirituality, which has Jesus as its beating, living heart.
From a place of brokenness and grief, Jesus has found a way to be resurrected in my life. Resurrected in a bigger and deeper way than I ever could have imagined.
Do you have questions & doubts about your faith? Has some traumatic experience made you question it all? Are you questioning what church is, what you believe or whether you even believe at all, and afraid to express this to anyone?
If so, you are not alone.
It’s OK to feel that way. Many of us do. And you should have no fear expressing that.
If you do, share what you really feel below. Get it out. Write it all out. Pray it. Look for online communities where you can be honest about it.
You don’t have to do it alone.
You can explore the story of someone else who’s walked this path, Sarah Bessey, in her new book ‘Out Of Sorts: Making Peace With An Evolving Faith’, which releases tomorrow (3rd November) in the US/Canada & is out in the UK now!
‘Out Of Sorts’ is an honest, challenging, and vulnerable book, and has been an incredible encouragement to me – and I know it will be for you.
Sarah will be on my podcast ‘James Talks’ later this month talking about the book and much much more.
Do check it out – I honestly couldn’t recommend this book more.
Have a great day,
Question for Reflection:
If you’re honest with yourself, where are you on your faith journey – and do you feel alone?
Share your story in the comments below
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(Picture sources: thenortherncompass.co.uk / Sarah Bessey)