Saturday, May 14, 2005
This evening, I watched "The Cross and the Switchblade" with my parents. I've seen that movie so many times, but I enjoyed watching it again, if for no other reason than the nostalgia. I was taken back 25 years, and I was sitting in "the old sanctuary" of the church of my childhood, watching the story of the rebirth of a young man play out before me. I could feel the cold, hard wooden theatre seats, I could see so clearly the beige carpet lining the outer aisles, and yellowish glazed windows, four on each side of the sanctuary, the setting sun peeking through the blinds that had been drawn to provide an optimal movie viewing atmosphere. I remember very clearly walking down those beige aisles one Sunday morning, and somehow having my gum end up on the carpet. I recall something about being told that I was not to be chewing gum during church. Beyond that, I don't recall much of that incident, but I'm sure it involved my mother taking me to the women's bathroom for what she referred to as "an event", which typically including a good scolding and a few swats on the behind if necessary. My brother was often treated to more "events" than I was. :)
A few years later, when the new addition was built on to the church, "the old sanctuary" became Children's Church. Still, many of my memories of that small pocket of the church building are dominated by watching my dad play a soldier in Easter plays, or hearing him sing "People Need the Lord", or trying oh so hard to sit still on any given Sunday morning, wondering what my baby sister was doing in the nursery and could I please go join her? I think of ruffly yellow dresses and patent leather shoes when I recall that part of the church. I still dream about it from time to time.
Anyway, as I watched that movie tonight, I longed for the simplicity of faith that I had 25 years ago. I believed it just because God said it, and God is bigger than anybody, so He gets to be in charge. As I considered my life these days, and how I so often struggle with the doubts, all the "what ifs", I felt a sting of sadness in my heart, as though it were longing for something that was just out of its reach. When did faith become so complicated? When did my heart learn to fear?
God's grace is sufficient, though. He loves us even in our fumbling, clumsy faith. I don't recall God asking us to have perfect faith...only to have faith, period. And if my own stumbling, fumbling walk with Christ can help another person accept the beauty and wonder of their own fumbling faith, then God has used me wonderfully. I can stop trying to be perfect...Nobody can relate to that.
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