In HOPE 8.20 

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David Timms  

Prayer for Today

Father, forgive me for treating you like a science experiment; a phenomenon to analyze, record, and explain. Refresh my soul again today with Your Presence. Fill me with wonder and deliver me from the driving desire to dissect You. Lord, may the living water of Your Spirit pour afresh onto the hardened ground of my soul. And give me the courage to walk with You and trust You even when I am "not sure of anything." Amen.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

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"My role and my soul were eating each other alive. I wanted out of the belief business and back into the beholding business. I wanted to recover the kind of faith that has nothing to do with being sure what I believe and everything to do with trusting God to catch me though I am not sure of anything." ~ Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church, p.111.

Roles & Souls

"I wanted out of the belief business and back into the beholding business." Ever felt that way?

Sometimes our efforts to explain everything about God result in the minimization of His mystery and the shrinkage of our souls. We demand answers and expect explanations, only to find that our hearts wither while our heads expand.

Sometimes our role as spiritual leaders drives us to project a greater certainty than really exists. We speak dogmatically, assuredly, and insistently, leaving little or no room for doubt. It's what people want -- clarity, certainty, and confidence. And the more we bow to this pressure, the heavier the burden grows; our role and our soul "eating each other alive."

Few of us find mystery appealing. We can't control what we can't define. We can't organize something without sharp boundaries. So we tend towards the soul-quenching practice of systematizing God. "This is how He works! This is what He does!" We engage in this shriveling exercise of explaining everything until a crisis (or boredom) hits and we feel well-educated but utterly disconnected.

One day, we realize that we have great explanations, impressive systems, and airtight arguments ... and virtually no faith ("trusting God to catch me").

I'm not opposed at all to giving an account for the faith within us, or having sufficient understanding to recognize and avoid heresy (truth dressed in a lie). The apostle Paul urges us to be diligent in these areas (2 Timothy 2:15). But can we live so that our roles and souls nourish each other? Only as we accept the wonder, rather than the fear, of mystery ... of the loving transcendent Father.

The faith that sustains us flows not from study and systems alone but from silence and solitude in His ineffable Presence.

May we grow "back into the beholding business" this week.

In HOPE --



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.