"Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here!"
I remember Anytime I use to read or hear this phrase I immediately had negative feelings, as if something bad was coming. Why was that? Why did the "good news" Jesus came to proclaim always make me nervous or uncomfortable?
The word, "repent" has always left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes when I hear it I have flashbacks. Probably because I have seen it used over and over again as some sort of scare tactic... "repent or else"... and it is usually being screamed during an "alter call" or being yelled by someone who is also holding a sign on a street corner.
I use to fear God way more than I ever loved God, and it seems many are in that same boat. And that boat will float for awhile, and it is always comforting to be in the boat isn't it?
I use to "know" all the answers. I use to be certain about God, faith, the bible, Jesus, heaven, hell, and church. I could rattle off the answers to the tough questions without thinking twice. And I will admit, faith was much easier back then. And let's face it, it's much easier to scare people than to love them.
It was nice and comfy in the boat.
It was safer, having something seemingly solid beneath my feet. Something to protect me from the rough waters outside.
But the boat eventually started to sink, and like Peter, I knew I had to get in the water.
Out where it's rough and everything is uncertain. Out where nothing is solid. Yes, at times it's scary, but where certainty can't be found, faith is demanded.
Many times I have imagined how much easier it would be to go back. Back to where the answers are easy and in bullet points. Back where God is nicely defined and smooth around the edges. Back where I get invited to speak in front of a church rather than asked to leave. But I can't go back, nor do I ever want to. I am constantly reminded of the words of Jesus to Peter commanding him to get out of the boat.
(i know, i know, enough with the boat analogy)
This past Sunday I was reminded of what Anne Lamott said about faith and doubt...
"The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty".
I have found this to be so true. I find it much easier to be "faithful" when there is certainty, but it takes much more actual faith to keep going in the midst of doubt and the uncertain.
Embracing doubt also demands trust.
To trust Jesus when he says to turn the other cheek, though you may get slapped again. To trust Jesus when he says to give to those who ask of you, though you may get taken advantage of. To trust Jesus when he says not to worry, though things aren't looking so good at the moment.
It's not safe in the water, but that's where I find Jesus. Inviting me to trust him.
So for now, I think I'll stay in the water.