belief

Knowing and Believing

For years God has been trying to get my attention regarding some specific weeds that are choking the life out of my spiritual garden. For years I’ve either dismissed Him or haven’t been listening for Him, and the weeds have been allowed to continue to grow and flourish. But God is full of second, third, tenth chances and this time I heard the message loud and clear. Maybe it’s because Claire and I spent some time last year doing some work that humbled me while at the same time preparing the ground. Maybe it’s because I’m not currently working and have nothing but time right now to talk with God. Maybe it’s also because God has a quirky sense of humor and decided to use a deceptively simple line of dialogue from one of my favorite fictional novels to drive His point home. Either way, as I was laying in bed rereading some of my favorite scenes, this line set off a clanging in my head complete with noisemakers and flashing lights.

Knowing isn’t always believing.

Deceptively simple, isn’t it? In the context of the story, the line is meant to point out that knowing something intellectually doesn’t equate believing it, of trusting it to be true. In the case of the book, the heroine knows she wasn’t responsible for the death of her fiancè, even believes it most of the time. She knows she doesn’t have to carry her burden alone, doesn’t need to protect her loved ones and friends from the trauma of her life, but her current actions point to knowledge with a lack of belief. Knowing without believing.

As I was reading this exchange, the proverbial light bulb when on in my head – I know many things about God, about His nature, about what He says He wants for us and His immense love for us. I know about the Holy Spirit, the Trinity. I KNOW and I fully believe this deep love of God, the relationship with the Holy Spirit, the redemptive love of Jesus…for other people. I only believe some of it for me. When I told Claire of my revelation, one I’m sure she had already deduced, she asked me one question that I’m still mulling. Do I know why I don’t have expectation?

What a good question. I’ve been sitting on that question for a long while and all I can think of is that deep down I’m not sure I’m worthy. And deeper down I’m afraid that all this goodness of God will be snatched away and I will be left broken and bleeding, alone and cold and that voice in my head that tells me that people like me, people from my family, good things just don’t happen for us, that this voice will be right. I’m not at the bottom of why I don’t have these expectations. There’s something else there, something that flirts with the edges of my conscious mind and disappears when I try to focus on it. The thing is, now I’m angry. I should be able to expect good things. God didn’t say He loved only some people. He loves the world. Every. Damn. One. Of. Us. Just look at the oft quoted verse that we all love for it’s validation that we are special to God but seem to forget when we interact with Him and with everyone else.

God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.John 3:16, Amplified Bible (AMP)

If this love is mine, why shouldn’t I have expectations of God? Why shouldn’t I want something different, something more from my life? Why should I simply know and not believe? Claire once told me that she holds God to His promises. She actively reminds Him of what He promised and let’s Him know in no uncertain terms that she EXPECTS Him to fulfill them. She may not know what that fulfillment looks like, but God promised and He must follow through.

I admire that in Claire. That chutzpah. I have stood before God and held Him to the promises He has made other people. I haven’t done that for myself. It never felt right before, but lately knowledge and belief have been merging. My husband and I spent a long weekend at a lake a few hours from our home. While he was out chopping firewood,  I stood at the water’s edge and I argued with God. At first, tentatively. Who was I to engage the Creator of the Universe in such an irreverent way? I’m His daughter, that’s who. And daughters argue with fathers, even while they love and adore them. My conversation became more intense. I reminded God of some of the promises He spoke to me. I told Him I didn’t see the outcome of these promises in my life. I demanded He remember these promises, the same way He remembered His promises to Israel. I have been trying to uphold my part, now I need to see Him uphold His. I expect Him to uphold His.

I don’t know what my future will look like. But I know, I believe it has to be better than it is now. I have an expectation.

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We’re Better Than Alright

It’s been raining for the last few days. I love the rain. I want to dance in the rain, call down the thunder and revel in the electric charges that slither across my skin. I used to. Not call down the thunder. But I used to dance and spin, my face to the sky and just breath in God.

I wonder why I don’t do that anymore.

I’ve been asking God for a sign. For something just for me. Something that tells me He loves me. That Her kindness is a mantle covering me. I had a sign last summer when I saw orcas breaching the ocean’s surface in a stunning display of strength and beauty. I love orcas. If I believed in spirit animals, they would be mine, these amazing wolves of the sea. Something stills and settles when I see them in nature. Something roars with pain when I see them in captivity.

But I live far away from the ocean so orcas can’t be my only sign. I need something else I can carry with me.

During one of my rain-soaked errand runs I turned on the radio and this song started playing. It’s about love and loyalty but I felt this zing through my soul. This might have been penned as a haunting love song, but it took on a deeper more personal meaning as the words flowed over, around, and through me. Between the Raindrops by Lifehouse. I have some of their music on my iPod, and sure enough this song was lurking there. I don’t remember downloading it. The only album I remember gettings is No Name Face. Regardless, there it was. I’ve been playing it on repeat. That zing is still there.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we aren’t alone. We need to know that God smiles on us. That He’s there with a smile and a promise. Those obstacles, He’s not going to let us figure them out on our own. He’s right there, walking between the raindrops with us.

I needed this promise in a visceral way I can’t explain. The chorus undid me, still does.

Walking between the raindrops
Riding the aftershock beside you
Off into the sunset
Living like there’s nothing left to lose
Chasing after gold mines
Crossing the fine lines we knew
Hold on and take a breath
I’ll be here every step
Walking between the raindrops with you

And then there’s the second verse that holds this acknowledgement. The world is f’ed up sometimes, but God promises to stay. I don’t think this is what the writers of the song had in mind. but I see God saying these words to me. Together, you bet we’re better than alright.

The world’s such a crazy place
When the walls come down
You’ll know I’m here to stay
There’s nothing I would change
Knowing that together everything that’s in our way
We’re better than alright

Sometimes we need a sign. Something we can hold on to. I’m holding on to this with both hands.