It is 3:30 a.m., and I cannot go back to sleep.
I awoke suddenly in the middle of turning in my sleep and thought I saw a ghost outside of my bedroom door. I wasn't scared...I just watched the figure as I woke myself up. It wasn't a ghost, I knew that. I was just remembering, my mind was remembering.
Then of course I had to use the restroom because as I get older...that is what we do at 3:30 a.m. :)
As I climbed back into bed, I started thinking back to our discussion at church tonight. We meet on Sunday nights in someone's home, and more often than not, it gets "real"...tonight was no exception.
As I laid there, I started thinking about the point where I got so worked up (some outwardly, but more than I can express (hidden) inwardly), which was when our discussion in Acts turned to the whys and wherefores of them going around appointing church leaders, elders, etc. Then, I started thinking about Jesus. Then I started thinking about my grandfathers (both of whom were elders). Then I started thinking about PaPa specifically. Then I thought about Jesus again. Then I started crying. Slowly at first, but then a torrent. I laid there with anger in my belly, jaw tightened (mouth gear in...thank goodness), eyes burning with tears, a broken heart, a tear-soaked pillow...and I wondered why? Then I wondered WHY?!?!
Why was I so upset?
Then WHY do we limit Jesus?
I am so sick and tired of religion. I mean, I AM sick and tired of religion. I am tired of nitpicking books, chapters, and verses to the point that there is no flavor of Jesus left there to savor, or more importantly, to gain nourishment from. I am tired of putting barriers out there and scrutinizing each other so that not only can neither man nor woman measure up, but Jesus could not (lets talk about our allowance on anger (lest I remind that Jesus got angry...yes, perfect Jesus).
We are breeding Christians with inferiority complexes. We are putting standards out there that not only are unattainable in the human nature, but are not Bible based (we are adding to and taking away in the worst way). Worse...we are dissecting it so much that not only can you not see Jesus, but without him there is no grace or mercy with which to both cleanse and cover you and your sins. So, where may I ask, does that leave us? Where does that leave me?
Let me just say this, that with the discussion tonight, neither of my grandfathers could have become elders. My father today could not have become (in his 60s) or be (about to be 70) a missionary. And hell (yes I said it), I could not be a saved, renewed, cleansed, blessed child of God.
....and let me just also say, that I might have to step away from writing to go throw up...I have fretted and cried so much, I have weakened my stomach. I don't know if I am being convicted, or if I am simply so hurt, angry, and bewildered...that I have worked myself into a emotional tizzy...
And what about that? I am sure that everyone reading this is going to ooh and aah or be worried about me. Don't. Whatever is working in me, Jesus has...100%.
We have got to get "real" with each other. God bless us, we have got to have these discussions. I am disturbed by some of what I heard tonight (okay, a lot of what I heard), but I know that hearing it is the first step to knowing it is out there, hopefully having a hard, frank discussion about it, learning from it, and maybe, just maybe getting deeper into the truth about Jesus. All that said, the exercise alone may put me under the bus. It simply wears my heart out.
I, we, have so many deeply rooted pre-conceptions of what Jesus is, what God is, what our religion is, what the Bible says and is...we, the long standing church members. Wait for it. We don't know squat. I just thought about the parable where Jesus states that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to go to heaven. Fellow church going "lifers" (those of us who have been in the church our whole lives)...we are the rich man. WE are the rich man. Sobering.
I get to be a counselor for a week this summer at a christian church camp (though upon reading this post they might re-consider), and I get more excited by the day at the opportunity. Just thinking of it now, I feel hungry...hungry. I know in my heart that those children that week are going to teach me more about Jesus than I ever thought I knew, much less actually know. I wish I could go now.
...I have to go and try to rest a little more...tomorrow, today will be a long day...
My closing thoughts...the honest truth is that I am a woman whose heart is being convicted. I have gone to church all of my life. I have been to a buffet of churches and religions in order to know, understand, see the other side, and learn...mainly to learn. I have read and studied. I have sinned. I have been saved. I have sinned again. I have repented. Well, needless to say, there is a pattern here. I have seen the best of religion, and I have seen the worst of religion. Too often that worst has been up close and personal, and it damaged me....deeply. It also has given me great empathy towards those persecuted by the church (and let me just say there are many ways to persecute someone). It has also given me a low to zero tolerance for those "playing religion" in the name of Jesus when I know good and well that the Jesus I know would neither say those things, nor act that way. Religion, simply put, has been part of the highest of highs in my life and the lowest of lows in my life. Jesus, my Jesus, was there holding on to me like the string of a balloon during the highs, and buffering my fall during the lows. My Jesus, your Jesus doesn't cherry pick. My religion, your religion, too often not only cherry picks, but purchases the equipment and hires the workers to do the dirty deed. (Yep...you can read into that all you want...)
I don't want to limit Jesus in my life. I won't allow others to limit him for me.
I can't protect all from this (oh sweet Lord above how I wish I could), but I can use my voice to at least proclaim that limiting Jesus is NOT right.
I wonder now who was at my door earlier this morning (in my mind)? I'm not sure it was my door they were knocking at...it feels like it may have been my heart.
I'm listening...for whatever it is worth...I am listening.
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)