God and the Pinball In My Head

I’m sure this week’s blog post will be a bit like playing pinball in the 1970’s because my thoughts are all over the place and can ricochet at a moment’s notice. So here goes…

I’ve been thinking a lot about God this week. Last week, I had a client, who also has cancer, sitting on my couch. She told me she did not believe God existed and if He did, she must be getting punished for something to suffer through cancer like this. I could feel her emotional pain as she spoke and felt deep compassion. Words from long ago rang in my ears…My youngest daughter Brie, sitting on my living room couch and telling me she did not believe in God and if God existed, she was mad at him for letting her mom get cancer. Ricochet…

Then over the weekend, I travelled to northern Wisconsin for a family reunion to remember the town started by my ancestors in the mid 1800’s. I listened to the audio book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by Jake Colsen on the drive. The story is of one man’s spiritual journey away from traditional church and toward a closer relationship with God. Jake, the main character is a pastor at a large church. He has in-depth conversations with John, who he met in the parking lot of a mall on a warm summer afternoon. Because of his intimate knowledge of Jesus, Jake believes he is John, one of the original disciples. In the book, Jake begins to see that to be accepted at his church, he has to give up little parts of his authentic self. He learns to lean into the relationship with God, rather than using acceptance and approval from the congregation as a substitute for a connection with God. Ricochet…

Then Hurricane Harvey hits Texas and Louisiana, with widespread destruction and loss of life. As often happens in tragedies, it brings out the highest and lowest intentions in people. There are stories of miraculous rescues by daring saviors and stories of looting and price gouging. And there is the social media frenzy about Joel Olsteen and his refusal to open his large church to refugees. Joel’s report was that the building had its own flooding issues, where some on social media posted pictures of the opposite. I’m not here to indict or defend Joel Olsteen. It seems like people have lost faith in churches to do the right thing. The image portrayed is that churches are only interested in the people who have something to give. Or that all churches are judgmental and destructive. Many of my clients have experienced God as a mighty weapon in the war to control their thoughts, their feelings, and their lives. This saddens me. And I con’t help but think it saddens God. I know it is contrary to my own faith community, which is committed to caring for those in need, to be the hands and feet of Christ, and to lift people up. Then one of my wise clients who has been wounded by the church reminded me of this: if the church truly reflected God, we would not need to be in relationship with Him. We would simply be in relationship with each other. Ricochet…

Now you may understand why I’m so tired. Sometimes I think it is the cancer, but sometimes I think it is because my brain is always going, trying to wrap my head around life. faith, and this world. So, here is where I have landed, for today. I do not believe that God punishes us for things we have done or not done, said or not said. I believe He feels sorrow when we suffer, whether that is from cancer or from floods. I believe that the only way to a relationship with God is to be relational with him, even when we are suffering. Sometimes this happens within a faith community and sometimes the expectations of a faith community can get in the way. And finally, I believe that churches are just human beings and sometimes they are healthy, strong, and express God’s love for his people and sometimes they do not. Most of us are just trying to live out the best expression of our faith. Sometimes we do well. Other times…well you know

x Shield Logo
This Site Is Protected By
The Shield →