This weekend I went to the “Imagine” Women of Faith conference at the Spokane Arena. In the past I’ve attended with my mom, but this year we each brought some friends in tow, which definitely enlivened the experience. It was neat to discuss the different ways all the various talks and drama sketches impacted each of us. It was fabulous to meet some of the speakers and the president of Women of Faith all because sweet little Riley was with us. (Want an in? Have your friend bring her baby). All said and done, it was a deeply memorable and important experience for me.
The biggest thing that I took away from all of it is that I am directionally challenged. Now, that’s not exactly news to anyone who has ever tried to tell me how to get somewhere. It just doesn’t happen. I operate solely by landmarks, and it’s a rare event indeed in which I venture out of familiar territory. Any time I try to drive to the Northtown Mall, I end up Stevens County. No joke.
I’d never thought about how this applied to the spiritual side of my life, though.
The running theme that I picked up on throughout the conference was trusting God. Ask any Christian if they trust God, and they’ll likely give you the correct Sunday School answer: of course! Getting down to brass tacks, however, reveals a very different picture. For instance, I am afraid to pray for healing when it comes to this CFS stuff. Not only is there a chance that He’ll say “no” and I’ll risk being disappointed, but there’s also a total lack of belief within me. I’m not at all sure that He would heal this, despite the experiences I’ve been through in seeing other people be healed of various ailments. I think that this is simply my lot in life, and that I need to do what I can to cope with it.
That’s why I’m directionally challenged. My trust reaches out horizontally on most occasions, instead of branching upward. It’s not wrong to trust other people, of course, and I also don’t think that it’s wrong to seek out medical advice and attention when you are ill. God has, after all, gifted many people in the healing arts. And for me, that’s what’s wrong. I’m seeking out the gift, not the Giver.
I don’t trust that He really cares enough about me to pay attention to my hurts, fears and agonies. That’s the bottom line. I’ll go far enough to believe that He’s saved me. I’ll pray for others and look for the subtle signs of His workmanship. Why don’t I go deeper? Why don’t I look for those signs within my own life?
The truth is, not only do I have a lack of faith but I’ve also allowed the society around me to dictate the pace of my life. When I read my Bible, I don’t take the time to allow the words of comfort, truth and grace to soak into my soul. I rush on by them and check one more thing off of my “to do” list. I have 17 other places to be and dozens of tasks to accomplish. I’ve only got enough time to sprinkle a little Jesus on my day.
That’s why I’m directionally challenged. My knowledge of grace and truth has reached a comfort zone. I am actually arrogant enough to think that there’s little left for me to learn from the Bible. That was an amazing slap in the face this weekend. For Pete’s sake, I want to teach people about things that are in the Bible! How on earth can I do that if I believe myself to have reached the pinnacle of all knowledge in that area? Realizing that this is the state of my heart and mind is incredibly humbling indeed.
You know what? It’s a vicious circle, really? I lack faith and so I don’t dig as deeply as I should into the words that I claim bring life. I don’t dig deeply, and so my wee bit of faith shrivels smaller and smaller. On and on it goes. How can I trust Him of whom I know so little about? How can I know so little about Him whom I claim to trust?
I heard an excellent phrase this weekend: curl up or look up. I’ve been curled up for a long time, clinging only to the familiar. I haven’t wanted to venture out into anything new or deep. It will challenge me. It will stretch me possibly to the breaking point. I may not find the answers I am looking for. I may not find any answers at all.
Is that all God is, some fortune-dispensing machine?
My gaze needs to shift. I desperately need to start expecting God to do BIG THINGS and stop expecting people to do them. I’ve got to put all my eggs in one basket and fling myself into the all-encompassing embrace of Jesus Christ. He is wild. He doesn’t answer to me. He does things that I don’t understand.
But sure for shootin’, He’ll point me in the right direction.