I'm back from Sunday worship today. It's been increasingly difficult for me to attend services lately. I find that I'm often prickly and irritated by what I'm hearing. I confess that last week I used my oldest son's misbehavior during worship as an excuse to leave church early. My husband was at work, so I didn't have the need to sit there for his sake. As the sermon began today, my mind almost immediately began disputing what the preacher had to say. The subject of the sermon was prayer. He related a story where a backpacking buddy of his began to fall down a steep hill. 2 men in the group immediately began to pray. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the backpacker stopped on a rock. My preacher said his buddy would have died that day if those 2 men hadn't prayed for him at that moment. I cringed and thought, "Oh, here I go again!" Then, I began to argue with myself:
Me: How do you know it was prayer that worked? The rock was already there, wasn't it? It didn't just pop into existence at that moment, did it?
Me: Well, God can use whatever is there. This would be a crazy world if He were continually altering the laws of nature.
Me: Yes, but it would more clearly display his existence, right? It's hard to see God at work, when so many things we attribute to Him can be explained naturally.
Me: True, but he didn't save the man until the men prayed, so that shows Him at work, right? He could have prevented the backpacker from falling in the first place, but no one would ever know God intervened.
Me: Is rescue from adversity the only way God can show his presence? We have to hope for suffering, so we can catch God at work? What sense does that make? What about Adam and Eve walking along with God in the garden? Who wouldn't prefer that?
Me: What if that event happened so the preacher could relate this story to me today and increase my faith?
Me: How egotistical is that, thinking what happened to a stranger several months ago, happened for me? What if no one prayed for him and he died? Would that be my fault some how? Object lesson gone awry for a wayward soul?
Me: Sigh. When will I ever reach a decision about any of this?
One aspect of worship I continue to enjoy is singing. I have trouble praying, but I listen to Christian music quite a bit in the car and always sing during worship. Even if I'm not sure I believe what I'm singing. Today, as I sang praise lyrics, like "but words are not enough to tell You of our love, so listen to our hearts," I was touched with a sense of gratitude. I'm not always sure who I am singing to or if anyone is listening, but I nevertheless felt thankful to be here, to be alive. I feel a peace in my life, even when it's not perfect, when I'm able to be grateful. I feel more connected to the world and to others at those times. So, though I'm weary of my doubts and endless debates with myself, I am grateful today to Be.
And at the expense of sounding sappy, I've been grateful to those of you in the blogging world. None of you know how helpful it's been to me to read your blogs and comments, to be encouraged, and to be listened to with acceptance. I also have a few off-line friends who read this blog and talk in person with me about these issues, and I appreciate you all very much too!
OK, enough mush. Next post I'll review Ch 14 of Keller's book, and then I'm done reviewing it. I've enjoyed doing it, but it's time to move on.