"What did you learn about God this year?"
But, I'm going to re-phrase the question to, "What are you still learning about God?"
(Okay this is the long-winded boring part where I tell about all of my painful church experiences (because I'm the only one with a painful church story . . . blah blah blah . . .).
Abbreviated version: Christian home. Started out Mennonite . . . Free Methodist . . . Non-denominational . . . Nazarene College . . . taught at a Christian school . . . then an interdenominational school in Haiti . . . came home and met a Baptist missionary . . . then he became a pastor . . . married him anyway . . . recently left the ministry . . . currently searching, stretching, growing, loving . . . .
I know that I met Jesus when I was in the third grade. When I was a kid I was probably even more devout than I am now. I did my devotions every morning like my life depended on it, witnessed to my friends, went to youth group like, every day, didn't have sex or do anything fun, felt guilty all the time, offended some people I wish I hadn't, put a Jesus fish on my first car, was voted most likely to be a missionary.
So then I got my first experience with something ugly and hurtful that happened in a church and directly affected me, and I was devastated. Then another thing happened. Then something else. So God allowed all of these hard church things to happen in a couple different churches in a really short amount of time to an insecure chubby girl whose whole life depended on her church.
And it broke my heart and for a while I wallowed and felt rejected and lonely, but every morning I got up and tried to read my Bible and figure it all out and pretty soon I realized that yes everything had changed but really nothing changed, because God was still my God and in fact He seemed even nearer than in my Youth Group days when I was so right and everyone else was so wrong.
So this was just the beginning of a recurring theme in my life: that just when I think I have God figured out, I think He and I are all good and everything makes sense and I'm about to hang some curtains and decorate . . . that this is when I start to hear him knocking again and I look around and realize that once again I'd built a box and left Jesus out, and once again he's outside my box knocking and hoping I'll let Him in (because He's so very Good like that. He just keeps knocking) . . . and I have to say that every time I've come to the place of opening the door, that a great gust of wind has entered in with him and blown everything apart around me.
This is where I stand today; feeling unfamiliar, exposed.
But I've been here before. And that's the other recurring theme:
I always find Him more beautiful, His truth is more dazzling, The Gospel bigger, His Word more alive.
Life with Him is safer, and more dangerous, than before. Harder, and more glorious.
(to be continued . . . )