Media > Pastor's Corner
Telling Stories ...
I didn’t quite know why I was impacted so much by this book.
Let me back up a little bit. While I was in seminary I was having a hard time reading the Bible without getting frustrated. You see in my classes I had to think critically so it was hard to read the Bible without raising a million questions. Is that true? Is that cultural? Is that what that word means? What about other passages that seem to say something different?
Now don’t get me wrong, thinking critically is important and I believe that we need to ask hard questions about the Bible in order to hear what God’s Spirit was saying then and is saying now. But there are those times when I didn’t want to figure it out… I just wanted to be encouraged. I just wanted a connection with God in some small way. Ever feel that way?
So one day at the end of a class my professor gave us all a devotion book he and his wife had written for people in recovery. Yep… a book for addicts. I’m not sure what compelled me to begin reading it but I did. Do you know that the word for Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek also means breath, wind or air? So when I say this book was a breath of fresh air I mean it in all the ways you can imagine. It was refreshing, it gave life, it felt like something new, it was the Spirit of God speaking, nurturing and caring for me in all kinds of ways.
You might be thinking right now, God speaking and all is great but, “Is our pastor an addict?” Well no… and yes. The truth is that we all have unhealthy attachments to things... alcohol, drugs, worry, shopping, success, religion, work, being right, etc… and we have all been wounded in some way or another. In reality we are all addicts and people in need of recovery so perhaps it was at this common human level that I connected with this book and ultimately God.
But there was something else and I didn’t realize this until I was recently talking about this book in our home group. Addicts are people in process and so to hear about the love of God, the grace of Jesus and the presence of God’s spirit with those of us still wounded, still on a journey, still with unfinished stories proclaimed something that I knew in my head but I never quite figured out at a deeper level. God loves us just as we are, Period. God loves us even if we never change, period. God loves me even if I can’t stop asking critical questions.
You see I grew up in a Christian tradition that only tells stories of success.
Life stories or “testimonies” always followed the same pattern… my life was like this (usually bad) then I met Jesus and now my life is like this (usually good). Very rarely did I hear someone say… This is where I am and I don’t know where God is or what’s going on? And so the subtle but powerful message was, “God is only there in the stories that have a good ending.” And so throughout my life I have rushed to find the good ending… even if I was still in the middle or at the beginning.
But this devotional book looked to the Scriptures and offered brief comments that acknowledged the powerful presence of God’s love and grace at all points along the journey, even in the darkest places. And boy did it feel good to know that God could even love a struggling and aspiring pastor.