Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Faith and Nostalgia

I long for the days when it didn’t feel like my faith was contingent upon exhaustively understanding the deep intricacies of presuppositional apologetics or reformed systematic theology. I long for the days when I was content to read my Bible IN ENGLISH (including the parts I didn’t understand) and not worry about who the real author of Exodus was or when it was written, or how evidence should be used as an apologetic tool (if at all), or what the hell happened to the Septuagint and why anyone would ever want to base a translation on it, or…I could go on for hours. I guess in a nutshell, I’m saying I long for the days when ignorance was bliss, but my faith was bliss too.

Yet, I can recall days back then when I knew there was so much behind what I was reading that could and should be explored, and it was such a compelling force to begin that adventure. But now I feel my faith has been relegated to an academic exercise, something that might only be worth a ‘C’ if that’s what I happen to get on my next paper or exam. I can honestly only blame myself for allowing this situation to occur. On the one hand Westminster is an academic institution and has made no secret of that. But on the other hand attempts are made daily to remind me, the student, of the proper, God-glorifying end which we pursue. But for me, there is currently a disconnect between the wealth of information I receive in my ears and the amount of spiritual sustenance it delivers to my soul. When done correctly the two should inform and sustain each other. But as it is, my head is filling up with knowledge while my soul withers in the sun.

I have felt this to a certain degree for some time. Yet today marked a culmination of feelings of helplessness, homelessness, emptiness, waywardness, and a whole host of other “nesses” that I find to be more than coincidental. Let me explain: I try not to chalk too much up to spiritual warfare, because it can easily become a copout: I don’t like to shift responsibility from myself. But the timing of this “crisis” leads me to at least consider the possibility that part of what I’m experiencing is from the enemy. This past Saturday afternoon was the memorial service of a beloved professor at Westminster, Dr. Al Groves. During the service, as I listened to various people reflect upon the servant-heart of this man, I realized I despised who I had become. Later that evening I confessed to a dear friend of mine that I had allowed myself to become very self-centered in recent months, and I felt my faith was suffering because of it. That night I felt a turning of the tide, an opportunity to rediscover the joys of Christian service. But just over 24 hours later, I could hear whispers of discouragement and malice, doubt and fear, rage…it was all so tangible this morning.

On the one hand, it could be Satan trying to thwart God’s plan to call me back to repentance. On the other hand, it could be that in order for me to truly repent, I need to be absolutely torn down to nothing, and that the pain I’m feeling is akin to the pain one might feel after having a cancerous tumor removed. Or, I guess it could be both, Satan intending it for one purpose and God for His own. And finally, to be fair, it could just be me…sinful, wretched me trying desperately to hold on to the sin I love so much.

Reading back through this post, I’m tempted to see two distinct issues at work here. No doubt there are several others, but these are prevalent: my disenchantment with theological education, and the spiritual pain I’m experiencing in the deepest parts of my soul. But perhaps they aren’t as distinct as they appear. Since they inform and sustain each other (as I mentioned above), it would follow that a detriment in one would lead to a detriment in the other, which is exactly what I feel at the moment. Do I, then, actually long for the days of ignorance? I suppose not. I just wish my “education” didn’t come at the expense of my joy. It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t have to, but as it is related to a deeply spiritual issue of mine, I imagine it will require some deep spiritual pain for me to once again see those two in harmony.

For those of you who read this who are believers, I write this so that you might pray for me: that God would be faithful in tearing me to pieces with the end that my faith might be stronger and my commitment to service to Him and death to self might persevere. For anyone who reads this who is not a believer, I hope you do not understand this struggle as an indicator of a lack of God’s faithfulness, but rather mine. And as such, this process is a greater indication of God’s faithfulness, because no matter how much I writhe and scream, He refuses to let me, His child, go.

4 comments:

Denise said...

oddly enough, this post is very encouraging to me right now. we should talk soon and i'll explain.

have a great day.
i'm praying--

-d

new blog: www.dmalagari.wordpress.com

Denise said...

Yay, make the switch. Everything is easier and better over at wordpress.
I'll be in New York this weekend but next week I'm tracking you down for some serious hang out time.

Will said...

Mike,
I love you and will be praying for you. God grant you peace and rest.

Larissa said...

Good words. Thanks for sharing. I'll be praying - and we should chat sometime. Last semester nearly did my head in...and it's not over.