Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Walk of Faith

I called to make an appointment for Johnny and me to go check out the ministry place where I thought he would be living. We made an appointment to go meet the man at 4:30 the next day, but I was not very peaceful. Johnny did not grow up being taught about the Lord. In jail he came to know the Lord and when he got out he sought the Lord the only way he knew – go to all the churches in town and talk to the pastors about what they could do to help him walk the straight and narrow and know the Lord. 

I have seen the Holy Spirit work within Johnny and within our relationship. It was the Holy Spirit that told Johnny to turn his bike around all those years ago in Ontario and invite me to his church. It was the Holy Spirit that told me to run away when Johnny kissed me because the Lord was protecting Johnny from my extreme legalism. It was the Holy Spirit that told me to finally text back when after a year he was still texting “I’m sorry”, and it was the Holy Spirit that brought Johnny to Casper. 

Johnny knows the Lord the way he knows Him, and in so many ways – his trust in the Lord is like the faith of a child. Johnny knows he’s a man with a past and knows the Lord is looking out for him and has forgiven him and he prays every night. Should I take a man whose faith is like a child and shove him into a box-like Christianity where your spirituality is judged on how many hours you read your bible and how many bible verses you memorize? The Lord has not opened my eyes to the truths of all being saved and love covers a multitude of sins for no reason. Shall I take a man whose relationship with God is spiritually innocent, without a head full of bad theology and legalism and make him conform to the traditions of man? No. I think not. 

So I told Johnny I wasn’t peaceful. Even though before he came out here we agreed that he would go into this program – now I felt very strongly that this was not the place for Johnny. We were sitting in the van outside the house where the appointment was and I said, “We will go in and hear what it is all about but unless we are convinced otherwise – I’m not going to be a rag and force you to go, even though that is what we initially agreed.” Johnny grinned and said, “Ok, and I won’t be a rag and say I told you so.” 

We went into the meeting and I listening to the man talk about all the rules and regs and “we don’t watch TV, we listen to Christian music” and I knew again, that this was just not the place the Lord wanted Johnny. Not that there isn’t a reason and a spiritual purpose for places like that and they can do so much good – I just really knew that this was not the place for Johnny. So I asked the man if we could try some other options and if it didn’t work out that Johnny could come back at a later date, and the man said yes. We left feeling relieved but also knowing that if the situation changed, he could always do it later. 

So without a plan, we knew that it was time to once again trust the Lord to see where He would lead Johnny. One door is shut; it will be interesting to see what other doors the Lord will open.

Till next time

Lots of love



Ma said...

I can't wait to hear what the Lord does:)

I understand your concerns about the rules and regs.

After finding Jesus and having my own relationship, I got into religion and all that, now I feel like I'm kind of coming out the other side to go back to right where I started.

But it's all good. You know?

wendyworn said...

See Ma! I knew you would understand. I'll keep you posted

Don said...

May I express an alternative view?

I know about your legalistic roots and I know where you are at now, both from this blog and from what you have shared. At some point, we will have to discuss this in more depth; maybe as a study in our small group? Only time will tell if this becomes possible, for reasons you already know. This response is not to oppose your mutual decision, but to present an alternative point of view.

A preacher I recently listened to said that discernment boils down to differentiating between liberty and legalism. Legalism provides a mold for what the Christian life looks like by objectifying the experience. Liberty recognizes that the mold is not the product. No matter how accurate the mold, a product still needs to be made from that mold. To put it another way, if the law is the rules for setting up a potter’s shop (such as the composition of the clay, the specifications for the potter’s wheel, the tools to be included, and so on), liberty is the hands that renders a work of art, along with the knowledge that goes into making that pot.

I’ll expound on this at a later date. For now, let me direct this line of thought to Johnny’s (and your) situation. I agree when you say that your previously extreme legalistic viewpoint would have been harmful. A legalist cannot love, no matter how hard he/she tries to do so. The command to love is never the exercise of it. I also agree that it would not be productive to try to conform Johnny into the traditions of men, as you put it.

However, liberty and freedom, when taken to the other extreme, produces a slew of problems that can damage us as well. Freedom in Christ, when taken to an extreme, casts off the restraint that the law provides. In each moral law there is a wealth of wisdom. Dispute any “Thou shalt not” and you will find out why the command was given, through pain and suffering. The law was written to protect us from ourselves, even if it did not have the power to actually make it happen.

The example you provided will suffice to illuminate this. One of the rules was the substitution of Christian music over TV. If the basis of this rule is legalistic (i.e., TV often broadcasts unspiritual principles and questionable morals), then it’s a mostly useless rule, since the believer will eventually be exposed to any and all of this at one point or another, and growth does not come from sticking oneself in a monastery indefinitely. However, if the point of this rule, and others like it, is to create a sort of spiritual nursery, where the inhabitants can thrive like plants in a sun-room before eventually being transplanted back into the wilderness, then it has its uses. To put it another way, if Johnny is as young in his faith as you point out, a period of incubation is wise. Would you teach him by throwing him out into the deep end of the pool?

I was raised a legalist in the Catholic tradition (of which a whole separate book containing all of the additional laws and rules is taught to its adherents). I rebelled and went the way of freedom, discarding the majority of laws that I was once taught. Now, as I stand here and look at the many scars on my soul, I can say that there is value in both. My only hope here is to spare both of you from receiving some of the same scars that still handicap me to this day.

Kim said...

Very wise words, Dan.