August 30th: Or, On the Plane In the Twenty Minutes Before My Battery Dies a Slow Death that I hope Daniel Can Someday Bring Back to Life

I am going to have carpal tunnel by the end of these twenty minutes. Thanks to the man in front me and his desire to sleep, thanks to the darkened cabin that is making everyone but the children sleepy, thanks to the short tray table and the seat that has leaned back and thus pushed my computer forward, thanks to the awkward angle of my wrists… I am going to get carpal tunnel. But it’s okay, because it’s genetic, and I have tiny wrists which is also a bad sign: so I suppose it was inevitable.

I haven’t much to say about my trip right now. It was good, although, it was entirely different from what I expected. I have never been on a half administrative-half mission trip. Not to mention I am struggling to understand what role I think short term missions should play in the church. Not to mention I am wandering around in my faith a lot lately.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not losing faith.

I think I’m gaining it.

But this has always been a hard spot for me. My faith goes through plenty of ups and downs. IN eighth grade I tried Atheism on for size. It didn’t stick past Easter. My sophomore year of college I was barely clinging to hope when I came home for the summer, not really sure what God was doing on his big throne with flowing robes that fill the temple. This summer I graduated college, was a little unsure of what my plans would be, and then God sent me packing to Russia. I was protesting with my dad about writing, and now I’m sitting on the plane, going back to a place I can finally call home, and all I want to do is write. I feel like my life is all over. There’s not straight path through the woods, just a big field with lots of beautiful flowers and I’m traipsing around.

I’m reading a book right now called Confessions of an Amateur Believer. I’m only half way through, but I would recommend it pretty strongly. Patty Kirk is telling me where I am. Or at the very least, she is hitting the surface and putting words to lots of things I’ve felt but haven’ been able to explain to people. I have so many questions for Jesus. What’s the church supposed to look like? What’s the point of the “sinner’s prayer”? Why are Protestants so angry about works when James is all about works and the Christian life seems to revolve around works too? How does salvation really work? Because most of the atonement theories seem to leave something out… I only really like Ransom Theory because it makes Satan out to be a moron and Jesus wins by a sort of righteous trickery.

And my faith is still all over the place. I can pray to the Holy Spirit, I can pray to all three, because really it’s praying to one. I don’t understand God’s timing, though I am learning a sort of disagreeable contentment with not understanding him.  Jim said he thought that God would give me an answer if I just asked. “I don’t like to keep things from my daughter, I don’t think that God keeps things from us, either.”

Which is weird. I felt like I was being rebuked for saying that I am trying to learn patience and just wait for God… for whenever he feels like showing up. The in between times are a little crummy—but I’m learning that like Patty Kirk says, God is closest when life is crappiest. Life isn’t crappy right now, it’s actually pretty good. Confusing, but good. I just wish that Jim would understand: Abba works with me like an old Jewish Rebbe (maybe that’s why Jesus became a Rabbi). He’s asking me questions, leading me to the answers in a circular, exasperating manner. We’ll get there, but he’s taking a circuitous route because he wants me to answer my own questions,  and he’s just leading me there.

So they handed us lunch, or dinner, or some meal that was meant to be pasta. And I thought about what Patty Kirk writes. I dug past the grey-ish brown green beans to the mooshy pasta noodles and scraped a few together onto my fork. I chewed them over thoughtfully, wondering about the disciples, and Moses and Paul and Abraham and so many other heroes of the faith. They started out pretty unsure, fairly skeptical, didn’t they? I’ll sleep with my slave then send her away, I will say I have a lisp, I will say I don’t know him, I’ll kill people who follow him… These aren’t the type that we think will be great leaders of religious movements. But they are. Because Jesus’ Ransom covers us. God’s grace does something weird when we believe, and it’s all figured out. The Spirit takes up some kind of residence inside my flabby little body that has had to pee for an hour but is still waiting for the lavatory line to calm down.

I think it might be okay to wander around. Maybe that’s why my favorite hymn acknowledges that I am prone to wander. But I still come back. I am here, and I’m not leaving the trail. Just wobbling from side to side as I stumble along.

And I think that might be okay.

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