Sunday, March 29, 2009

Other things I've learned along the way...

How about some pretty pink today. Can't wait to see this in my yard again!

I've loved reading all your comments and emails about your thoughts on God/religion/spirituality. It makes me wish we could all be together in a cozy room with a fireplace and lots of comfy chairs to sit around and discuss things. Wouldn't that just be so much fun?

I've finished The Shack now and I hated to see it come to an end. I handed it to Patrick after I finished and asked if he'd like to read it. I told him that this is probably the most profound book I'd ever read (I've read a looooooot of books!). One of the reviews on the book said that it would forever change the way you think about God. For me, this is very true. On second thought, maybe that's not true. I think a truer statement would be that it confirmed for me the way I think about God.

After reading it, I did a google search and was not surprised to find some very hostile reviews by Christians. While I already knew there was some controversy surrounding The Shack, I was, nevertheless, saddened to read many of them. I truly believe that there will be many many people who will read The Shack who've always felt outside of God's love and Grace. And I believe that while reading this book they will discover that God does indeed love them. How in the world can that be seen as evil?

Many in the Church are determined to paint God as a tyrant, making demands that make it seemingly impossible to perform. They are so caught up in doctrine that they lose the very essence of God's message which was all about love. It's not about doctrine, it's about a relationship with God. It's about loving one another. It's truly a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. They have no idea of the damage they do to people who are hungry for a relationship with God. It saddens me more than I can begin to put into words. It saddens me because they did that to me for a very long time.

I've said before that everyone has their own path and their own journey. It's not for me or anyone else to tell someone that their path is wrong. I believe that God will meet us on whichever path we choose. My path feels right for me and I've found God waiting for me at every twist and turn since I began my search in earnest. I've found Him to be bigger and more loving than my churchgoing taught me. I came to him out of love and not duty and that has made all the difference.

There are many, and some of them in my own family, who will shake their heads and despair for my lost soul because of my beliefs. That's okay. I know what I know about my relationship with God. It is well with my soul.

I was raised Protestant and married a Catholic. It wasn't until after I was married that I found out that the Catholic Bible has books in it that are not in my Protestant Bible. Hmmm, I wondered, why is that? I was young and busy and didn't really give it much thought until several years ago when I realized that my relationship with God felt very small and insignificant. I was hungry but I didn't know exactly what I was hungry for. Then one day I realized that I was hungry for a true and personal relationship with God. In my search to find him I had to determine why I felt I'd lost that. I realized that I didn't trust Him and didn't feel his love for me because of all the seemingly inconsistent pictures the Bible painted of Him. In other words, I was commanded to love him out of fear for my soul. The threat of hell was ever present in my mind. I wanted to love Him because He was my Father and Creator, but when I got real honest with myself I couldn't determine if I was motivated from fear or love. But the Church or more truthfully, the people in the Church while they talked about Grace at times, surely weren't modeling it. So, if these two bibles don't have the same books, why is that? It's because Man decided what books "we" needed to base our lives on. See, it always muddies the water when "Man" tries to set the rules. I had always been taught that the Bible was the infallible word of God. Oh really? Then which one is the infallible version? The Catholic one or the Protestant one? This revelation set me on a search of just how we got the Bible in the first place and wouldn't ya know it, man was picking and choosing alllll along the way. I'm not going to say that I don't believe anything in the Bible because that would not be true. I will admit though that I have major questions about some of the teachings and there is no one on earth that can possibly answer those questions. Which means that I have to rely on God alone to lead me where he wants me to go. My brother (the preacher) thinks that is heretical. He says I have let "my ears be tickled" by untruths. All I can say is that I love God more than I ever did when it felt like a duty to be performed. I feel closer to God than I ever have in my life and I know that even if I'm wrong, his love and grace are big enough to cover me. THIS is a relationship, not an attempt to keep my self out of hell. The true hell for me was feeling outside of this relationship.

Being a mother has taught me what Grace is. My children loving me out of fear would not be love. I want my children to love me because they love me! They can't love me if they fear me. And the Grace part comes in when I realize that I love them whether they love me or not. Grace is love unconditional. Grace is a gift, unearned. Grace covers all. God's Grace loves me and redeems me even when I'm undeserving. THAT is the message of The Shack and many "men of God" have a problem with that. It boggles my mind.

Many certainly don't agree with me. That's okay. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone and would not even begin to suggest that your beliefs or religion is wrong. God is a loving Father and He is so much bigger than all our differences.


Gran said...

I'm with you on this one, Melissa. I've had two friends, who both lived "human" lives, that is, they had chosen.both made their share of mistakes as we all do on the path they had chosen for themselves.

Both of them found "the one true religion" for them (not the same religion) and expected their friends to join them. "If you don't believe as we do, you'll go to hell" became their battle cry.

That was years ago, and now I think that both of them needed the structure, the rules, the fire and brimstone God.

I'm with you, all the way.

I send both of these old friends love, on a regular basis, through my prayers. Their way is not my way, but I wish them all the best for ever and ever.

And I've put The Shack on my must read list.

garnett109 said...

Enjoy your week

Cindi said...

Thx for sharing your view...I agree with you, our "relationship" is measured by God, not man...he is my only Judge that I must answer too, thankfully he is loving!

Beth said...

Don't forget the Jewish Torah, which has even more books that have not been included in the King James version of the bible.

I guess what bothers me the most about dogma is that everything is black and white. You MUST believe this way, or you are doomed. I just can't accept that, and I don't believe I ever will. I've learned that there are many shades of gray in life.

For example, the recent brouhaha I've been writing about concerning Pres. Obama speaking at Notre Dame. One article in our local paper quoted an interview with a student who protests his appearance. She was asked about Pres. Bush's commencement speech back in...I think it was 2005...and how there were many people who protested HIS appearance because of his death penalty practices while governor of Texas.

The student replied, "That isn't the moral absolute that abortion is." I thought to myself, "Hm. Says who?" Honestly, who gets to decide which sin is worse? Are there degrees of sin? Who is the decider? (haha)

As you pointed out, MAN is the decider in cases like that.

Another great entry.

Love, Beth

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

The commandments really do set us straight and if everyone were to follow them there would be no question as to what we are to do. #1 LOVE GOD, and #2 to love your neighbor as you would your self. God loves us so much. Most churches prioitize Love of God and on that we agree...from there should flow everything else. 'On Ya'-ma

kbear's heart 2 said...

The God I know is only loving. not judging. not condemning. just pure Love. and hell really doesn't exist except only in the minds of people who believe in it. it is mankind who created "hell". All is God and Love. blessings~kbear

Michelle said...

I love reading your blog!

You always have good things to read about.

I'm going to get that book - and I agree with you 100 percent!

Thanks for another great entry.


Wes said...

Another well written entry, with good points! I feel we are all here to fufill God's plan and our own. As long as we stay on our path and allow love in our life, we will be God.

It would be nice for all of us to be in the same room and discuss all subjects. Or simply share good company!

I enjoy the computer, but everybody emails and text eachother. I often wonder where did face to face go? This occurs even with good friends, and family.

One day I hope we can all get together and discuss life the way it is sometimes!


Janie said...

My son's sermon last night was on love. That is what God wants us to do.. love each other. I have found peace beyond understanding in my later years. Things may not be just like I want them to be; but just knowing that God is in control helps calm my soul. Glad you liked the book. I have not read it. Just don't seem to have much time to read; and if I did that is all that I would get done. :) Wishing you a blessed week. Hugs, Janie

Lisa said...

Hi Melissa,
I've noticed there are a number of people reading The Shack in our blog world. I agree that having a relationship with God is one that should be out of love and not just fear. I think a little fear is healthy and keeps us in an attitude of respect also and keeps us from trying not to perpetually fall into sin but I also think it is very important that we embrace God's marvelous and amazing love and His wonderful grace. As I grow I do also think that love part is the most important part of the law because all the law if fulfilled in the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. I am so glad you mention about the Bible having parts of it chosen by man because I too have been intrigued by the other books that are in the Catholic Bible but not in ours. I would very much like to read those and the Jewish Torah. I'm a pentecostal preacher's granddaughter and my grandmother always said heaven would be like a fruit basket... there would be Lutherans and Catholics and Jewish and Methodists and Pentecostals there, etc. The common bond we should all have is that of the love God had in sending His Son to save us. Wonderful Entry! I would love to have a nice conversation about it also.
Lisa in Kentucky

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Very nice post, I agree that we cannot take the Bible as the word of god, as it was written by men. Each must look within to determine where their spirituality will take them.

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