When Faith Isn’t Tidy

Not long ago, I sat grieving the loss and celebrating the life of a sister gone too soon.

We weren’t close, really.  But she loved Jesus in a straightforward way that I admire.

I didn’t know how to feel, at all.  I am so not good at feelings.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how faith isn’t always tidy.

How it can share space with hard questions and big feelings and all the loose ends of life that we wish Jesus would tie up already.

Maybe you’re hanging out in that middle place tonight too.

It’s ok.

We’re in good company.

When the story of David’s life is told, the line that resonates is this:

He was a man after God’s own heart.  (Acts 13:22)

But this father of the faith was also a mess.

A lying, emotive, vengeful, overconfident, many-times-rescued, not-as-many-times faithful mess.

When he finds that the town where he left his family has been burned to the ground and they are nowhere to be found, he settles down to weep until he literally has no more strength, no more tears left in him. (1 Samuel 30)

And then, once again afraid for his life, he finds strength in the Lord his God.

The word means to grasp, to seize.

I feel like this sometimes.

Like my only option is to cling for dear life to the One who has proven himself faithful.

Sometimes faith looks like this.

Like being reduced to a weeping puddle on the floor.

Like running for your life and grasping wildly for a strength bigger than your own.

Like falling again, surrendering again to the rescue, the Rescuer you so desperately need.

This part of his story, too, has a happy ending.

Pursue, God said, and David brought everyone back.  Every last one.

Wailing into dancing.

Itchy sackcloth into unbridled joy.  (Psalm 30:11)

And so.

If you are in the middle place tonight.

Holding space for feelings and questions and general untidiness right alongside stubborn (or maybe threadbare) belief.

Know this.

It doesn’t mean you are unfaithful.

It doesn’t mean you need to try harder.  Or pretend better that everything is ok.

It just means that the story of your life isn’t finished yet, dear one.

You too can find strength in the author of the best stories.

The one who can speak over your many-times-rescued, not-as-many-times faithful life:

This one, too, had a heart that beat like mine.

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