Reading the Bible Doesn’t Work

This Lent, I’ve been doing a reading plan through Bible Gateway that will take me through all of the New Testament by Easter. So far I’ve been quite good about it—there have been a couple days when I missed all or some of the chapters, but I’ve always gone back and caught up.

I’m over halfway through the plan now, and yet, I don’t really feel like it’s doing anything.

.

.

Sure, sometimes when I read it I’m not fully engaged and am reading the words merely to say I’ve read them, but there are times when I really am paying close attention. In an effort to keep me from being able to skim so easily, I’m reading The Message, instead of my usual NIV or ESV. There have been moments when certain verses or phrases stick out to me a bit, but certainly no lightning bolts. Not that I necessarily expected one, but it sure would be nice.

I’ve tried not reading the Bible at all for a while, I’ve tried eating something I enjoy while I read it as a reminder of its goodness, and now I’m trying a fairly regimented approach to reading it.

And none of it seems to be “working.” Whatever “working” exactly means when it’s applied to Bible reading.

If it’s supposed to break God’s seeming silence, it’s certainly not working the way I’d like it to.

I can’t pinpoint when I wandered into this weird space of not really knowing what’s going on with God. It’s been some time now though, and while I’ve seen glimpses of him here and there, mostly I have not.

God is there—I’m as certain of it as I think I can be (which is to say, not 100%, but enough to continue believing and living like it)—but it kind of seems like he’s not.

In the midst of all of it, I’m continuing to look for the lessons here. And I’m coming to realize it’s not in my right to DEMAND more of God. It’s what I want to do, and oh how I wish he’d give in to my foot-stomping wails for him to appear, but that is not how he operates. Or at least, it’s not how he has to.

He doesn’t have to do anything.

I’ve realized I’m still not tempted to walk away from this faith thing—that’s never really been a serious consideration in my mind, even here, in this strange space. I think this is me learning that inherent in the idea of “faith” is the idea keeping after it, whether or not the feelings are there.  

So where does that leave me?

If the ways I’ve seen and felt God at work in my life turn out to be all I ever get, for the rest of my breathing days, is it enough?

I can’t say with absolutely certainty, because life may be long and messy and painful, but I think it might be.

If reading the Bible never starts feeling like it’s “working” again, if my problems with prayer persist, if God never shows up in a pillar of fire, is it enough?

I hope so.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What do you do when reading the Bible doesn’t seem to be “working?”

Giving God a Piece of My Mind

Oh, God, where are you now?

It feels almost wrong for me to be the one asking that question. On the list of true tragedies, I’ve suffered none of the big ones. Yet, not being able to see you kind of feels like one, in a way.

So I’m writing, because good relationships have good communication, and it’s probably past time for me to tell you how I feel.

Photo Credit: Flickr User  kevin dooley, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User kevin dooley, Creative Commons

This silence has gone on for long enough, don’t you think?

I thought maybe you’d show up on the mission trip; I saw a flicker of you, but not a flame. Maybe it was my own skepticism getting in the way.

It’s not that I don’t believe in you or that I don’t think you’re entitled to do what you want (you are God, after all), but everything feels rather messy. God, there’s so much Broken here. The fighting and the uncertainty and the illnesses and the doubting and the death.

There’s an ache here, in the world, but also in me.

They tell me you cry when we cry, that you’re near to the brokenhearted, and I believe that about you—it’s one of the things bringing me back, time and time again—but it really doesn’t always feel that way. Because even though I know the textbook answers of why you don’t always step in to fix the Broken, they don’t always make sense in the here, the now, in the dust and the ugly.

 

It’s not just the big questions that bother me, either.

 

For one so big, you have mastered the silence.

 

I know this is part of faith, the times where you are so near it is breathtaking and the times when you so distant it is maddening. I am not the first, or the last, to experience and to question this. To question you.

And I am questioning you. Not whether you exist, because I am quite certain, even in the silence, you hold me so tightly and tenderly that I can’t ever truly walk away. But I do question your ways.

 

I don’t think you’ll strike me down for writing this; nor do I think that, because I’m being honest, putting this all out there, airing my grievances, you will “reward” me by showing up in some way I’ve been hoping you would for quite some time. You are no genie, waiting to be summoned from a lamp.

Because if you were, you would have showed up by now. I’ve tried everything but rubbing lamps to get you to appear.

It frustrates me that you show up so readily for other people, who seem to know you and feel your leading in ways I just don’t. Maybe it’s a faith thing, and I don’t have enough, or maybe it’s because we’re different people and simply bound to experience you in different ways, but I can’t help but wonder why you can’t give me a dose of what they get.

 

You’re kind of a shifty fellow who’s hard to figure out, because you don’t work the way I want you to work.

 

And maybe that is what the silence is about—teaching me that you work here, in the silence, as well as in the noise. You might be standing right off the edge of the stage, waiting, quietly, patiently, to make your appearance, because the time hasn’t come yet.

But I’m hoping it’ll come soon.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

p.s. What do you do when God seems silent?

Frustrations of an Almost College Graduate: Why the Silence?

Lately, I’ve been doing a fair amount of freaking out–in writing, in my head, in conversation–and I’ve been discovering I’m not the only one. Many of my friends have been experiencing similar emotions to mine as we look forward to graduation. Some of them have plans, be they further schooling, marriage, or part-time jobs, but in general, none of us feel like we have things figured out.

So I can’t help but wondering…WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE WARN US?

When I graduated from high school, people talked about the change of going from high school to college. It was a big change, not only in location as I moved into the dorms, but also in the way my schooling was conducted. Still, it was going from one type of school to another type of school.

Now, as I prepare to leave the world of schooling behind (quite possibly for good) and (maybe eventually) join the workforce, no one seems to be talking about it nearly as much. I knew the transition was going to be rough, but I have been surprised by both the breadth and the depth of the emotions I been feeling over this change. Based on conversations I’ve been having, I’m not alone in this.

Why the silence on the issue then? Maybe not complete silence, as I’m sure there are books and blogs on the topic out there somewhere, but it’s definitely not a “roar”…more like a whisper.

On Monday I was introduced to someone at my internship who has worked there for several years. She told me a bit about her job, because I curious about what she does there, but we also talked a bit how I don’t know what I’m going to do after graduating. Although she graduated several years ago, she told me she remembers feeling completely out of sorts when she did, not knowing how to NOT be a student after being one all her life. It’s a feeling I’m familiar with; I have it right now.

I just wish someone would have warned me.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I keep writing about my freaking out, uncertainty, fear, and bits of excitement and joy over graduating. Honestly, part of it’s purely selfish–writing helps me process things. Without it, my brain would probably explode. But maybe by sharing, I can give words to feelings others may not know how to express, or may not even have realized yet. Maybe that’s the whole point of writing in general. Maybe if I don’t, no one else will.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

In Pursuit of Silence

Rarely, if ever, am I encompassed by

complete

absolute

silence.

It’s hard to find these days. Whether it’s the drone of a TV, the patter of my neighbor’s feet on the floor of the apartment above me, traffic on the street, music coming from my laptop’s speakers, there are nearly always things around breaking the silence.

Truth be told, I’m often the one to break my own silence. There’s something slightly unnerving about the total lack of sound. Perhaps it’s my fear of a noise I deem creepy being the thing that breaks it, or perhaps I’m just so unused to it that I don’t know what to do with it.

The fact that I love music only adds to it. Many of my waking hours are filled with music notes of varying kinds. Not that music is bad…I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. Sometimes it seems like the only thing capable of expressing the way I feel. But it is not the same as silence.

Peace and silence seem to go hand in hand. Maybe because true silence is usually found in nature, and nature can be very peaceful.

There is an element of intimidation in silence as well. Everything is stripped away, and we are left with the absolute lack of noise. Even little noises, like the hum of a light bulb, can be distracting. Silence lacks any chance of a distraction. It is only me, and my thoughts. Thoughts come with their own noise, but it is different than the audible kind.

For whatever reason, I find myself desiring silence. It seems that if I could find silence, maybe my noisy thoughts would soon fall in line and be quiet as well. Or perhaps they’d become louder, but in that loudness begin to make sense. Maybe being just with my thoughts, with no other audio interruptions, would be too much for me to handle. I’m not really sure.

Unfortunately, the odds of me being able to find out don’t seem very good. Perhaps absolute silence doesn’t even truly exist. Outdoors seems the most logical place to look for it, but even in that I’m sure I would hear leaves rustling, or maybe the sounds of water or animals. Silence is elusive. It’s not as though I can find an audio track of nothing and turn it up until it drowns out everything else. The idea of that though–of  being able to turn up the silence…that sounds quite nice.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~