Imagine for a moment feeling like you have an itch, but you don’t know where to scratch.
It is like having a feeling that something is not quite right but you really can’t put your finger on what it could be. You wake up with that feeling, live with it all day and go to bed at night with it still there.
We all know what it feels like to have a place on our back that we can’t reach that needs to be scratched. That’s right, we tell our wife or husband, it’s just between the shoulder blades. No…not quite there…just a little to the right…up a little higher and then Ahhh! Things feel better al ready.
Imagine if you will having an itch for several years—knowing that it would feel better if someone could scratch it—but for the life of you—you can’t really tell them where it is at. It is like an undefined longing—having benn told that the top of the mountain or our destination is just around the corner but never ever arriving. Always moving towards something that we have assumed is just around the corner but by the time we get there fwe find that the block has been turned into an office complex, another hospital or a car dealership.
For several years I attended a church where I was told from the pulpit every week what it looked like to be a good Christian person. I knew I was one because I remember the evening that I was born again and had my sins forgiven. It is kind of like a Mount Rushmore moment—you know that you have been there. It is not like somebody pulled the wool over my eyes—I became a Christian that very evening.
But in church, I was told that you had the read the bible every day (the longer the better), pray a lot and take your wife out on a date night every week. I was told that there were certain conditions that applied to me and to get to where I was headed I would have to meet these conditions and move on to the next level. It was a little bit of grace mixed with a little bit of performance mxed with a little bit of who knows what—and a lot of guilt when we didn’t live up to the high standards that were always being set for us.
So we kind of “flew under the radar” to coin a phrase. When asked how you were doing, you knew what to say and you knew the right words to use as well. We learned to talk “christianeese”. Don’t let them see you sweat turned into don’t really let them know what is really going on because if you do then there will be a price to pay.
Every week it was a new “message” even though I hadn’t even had the time to put into practice the one from the week before. I collected literally tons of journals filled with notes I took each week that I never looked at after I filled them up.
I rencetly went through several boxes of these notebooks I had saved and threw them out. It’s not like they weren’t any good—they were—filled with scripture and thoughts about life at the time. But I knew that after 10 years of storing them they would never see the light of day again.
Don’t get me wrong—I am not bitter about those years spent in a box. That is not why I am writing this. I just don’t want to spend any more years there.
I am closer than ever before to being able to locate the itch—to see a path through the forest—to move beyond the point of being stuck somewhere I really don’t what to be.
My life is beginning to have a new soundtrack put to it and I am anxious to hear it as it gets recorded.
It’s the ride I am on.
Terry,Well said. It’s good to have you as part of this ongoing “conversation”. I look forward to reading more about your journey.
Thanks Bill: I was surprised at how big the web community is.
David Davis (who sent me your link) is a good friend of mine who has encouraged me during this time of discovery and transition.
I have also known Steve Sensenig for a couple of years and live in the same town as he and his wife.
Is your book on CD? Is is avaiable for download?
Til the next time.
One of the things I have learned outside of the IC is that a general prescription delivered as a sermon will only go so far. There are some patterns to human behavior, so addressing these for a large group of people appears logical. Yet…to walk in the spirit of the living God is a highly individual thing, since we are all individuals before God, and He in His wisdom and grace receives us exactly where we are, loves us unconditionally, and teaches us specific to who we are as individuals. How are we the same? love, hate, jealousy, envy, anger, greed, lust, the Cross and Resurrection, the work of grace, and here we diverge. The grace I need is the same grace you need but will be applied and make sense at a very individual level. Christian existentialism? We must individually wash in the blood and walk in the spirit learning what it takes for us to be personally responsible before God; and from there learn a place of communion with one another.
One of the things that has been good about this blog stuff is our renewed relationship. Another, that it and you have given me a vocabulary with which to fashion my thoughts and feelings with.
What a Ride!
I love your frankness here: “But in church, I was told that you had to read the bible every day (the longer the better), pray a lot and take your wife out on a date night every week. I was told that there were certain conditions that applied to me and to get to where I was headed I would have to meet these conditions and move on to the next level. It was a little bit of grace mixed with a little bit of performance mixed with a little bit of who knows what—and a lot of guilt when we didn’t live up to the high standards that were always being set for us.So we kind of “flew under the radar” to coin a phrase. When asked how you were doing, you knew what to say and you knew the right words to use as well. We learned to talk “christianeese”. Don’t let them see you sweat, turned into don’t really let them know what is really going on because if you do then there will be a price to pay.” What a sad Gospel we’ve delivered: ‘grace, performance, who-knows-what’, leading to the then necessary need to hide from one another. Sadder still, we haven’t been able to tell the differance between the real Gospel, and all the psuedo-gospels that abound. (The ‘other blend’ gospel can ever only work for high-achievers, and the ones who suppress reality really well). Maybe it’s time we discovered what the real Gospel looks and functions like– the one that makes true Christ-lovers and authentic God-worshippers (inotherwords, people who will willingly lay down their lives). I think it got buried about a century ago. And then we slowly moved into mega-individualism, adding all the more to our spiritual confusion (or–creating the perfect recipe for audience-driven superficial spirituality). I’ve discovered our problems aren’t just lack of relational reality. They actually stem from lack of reality with the Real Gospel. Now–you want to sign up for a Real Ride? (Hopefully it’s the one you’re already pursuing). Go after the Real Gospel, for all you’re worth. And don’t stop, until you’re facing Christ, and yourself. That’s when the fun will begin. (John 14 & 15) Blessings! Nj
I found your site after finding “The People formerly known as the congregation”. I’ve just spent the last hour or so looking at some of your material.I just love what Naomi said about the need to discover what the real gospel looks like.I’ve been on this journey (in the UK) for more than 50 years. I am aware that tens of thousands of committed Christians are leaving the churches that they may have attended for many years. Although I’m over 70 I find it very exciting. I have never had a leadership position in church although I did give the occasional sermon until about 4 years ago when I asked to be allowed to make it into a dialogue. I wanted to encourage people to think about why they believed and how they could share that belief with others. This was seen as a misplaced idea! I can really relate to what Heidi has written in “My Journey Away from Organised Religion into the arms of Christ” You may not feel comfortable with some of my thoughts (but I have had an unusual Christian journey – including observing the Old Testament Feast Days for more than 20 years) but I’d be very happy to share journeys. Pete
What would you have spent a million dollars?