A Faithful Wrestler
There are those moments when someone says something that cuts you to the quick — gets right to the heart of the matter — oftentimes leaving you with a feeling that strikes you deep in the pit of your stomach, simply because you know the words to be true. Up to that point, you’ve done an excellent job of keeping that truth, keeping those feelings buried deep beneath the stuff and busyness of life.
“Functional Atheism,” were the words Greg Jones used at our gathering of ADSs and DSs. Why, out of all the things he said, did these words cause me such angst? It certainly caused me to whisper a quick prayer from scripture, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) When I chose to live and give from a place of scarcity instead of believing in God’s abundance, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” When I fail to see the possibilities and live the promise, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
“Functional Atheism,” as uncomfortable as those words are, they will sit with me for a long time. I will wrestle with it for a while like Jacob. I hope I don’t let go until something transformational happens in my spirit. I hope that in our wrestling with God over matters of discipleship, faith, and life, we will find the courage to say with Jacob, “I will not let you (God) go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26) I pray that out of that blessing, we will be a blessing.
I know that I’ve used the word “I” an awful lot in this reflection, but trust me, it is far from an egotistical statement. It is more confessional than anything, as they say, “confession is good for the soul.” I confess it is easy to live a life of “functional atheism,” especially when God is constantly calling us to audacious, bold, and demanding dreams. “I am okay Lord with life as it is. I am comfortable right here in Egypt. I am ready to end this road trip. I believe Lord, but…”
The words “Functional Atheism,” have truly convicted me. Have I truly believed and lived into the words of Ephesians 3:20? “Now to him who is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
However, before I say amen too quickly, I must also confess that God, as God often does, hit me with a double whammy. Another wise friend wrote these words to me just last night to me in an email, “We don’t get to write the script for life’s journey, do we?” We simply make ourselves available to a gracious God who is constantly calling us forward — “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
May we live life with our feet, head, and heart, moving forward into the promised future with an audacious hope and infectious joy. May we be the people of God, daring to live not in fear, not in bitterness, not in anxiety, not in despair, but in “…a hope that does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us.” (Romans 5:5)
Against my head’s better judgment I’ve worn my heart on my sleeves:
Hoped for Peace!
Belief in Love!
Bread for the Hungry!
Justice for the Oppressed!
Against my head’s better judgment I’ve let my dreams rule my life:
All would be well!
All the world whole!
All things beautiful!
All things Holy!
Against my head’s better judgment I’ve let my soul guide me:
Against my head’s better judgment I’ve often searched for:
My head leads me to rational things,
my heart to unfamiliar ground,
both are necessary journeys toward true destiny.
By Leonard Fairley
If you would like to print or share this edition of “Fair” for the Journey, you are invited to do so with this pdf: The Faithful Wrestler – 09.02.2015