When we are young, we are taught to believe certain things about God— about what we can see, feel, understand.
When, in fact, God is beyond our senses or our understanding.
The church has been set up as an institution to hold those beliefs for us, to guide us in understanding them, but not always in questioning them.
So what happens when we find out that God is not what we expected?
We find that the world is far from what we believed it is, a world diverse in its expressions of God.
The first time I went kayaking, it was on a small lake, covered in lily pads.
I was there in the quiet, and the most amazing part was that I’d never seen a lily pad up close before.
How could I have missed, for twenty six years, such a beautiful aspect of creation– of God?
The first time I cooked a meal with our Muslim friend in my tiny kitchen and she took off her head covering in my presence, I thought how could I have gone my entire life without knowing intimate moments like these?
In growing my first full garden, I realized that I could have spent my life not tending to something so beautiful and tender as a garden bed of vegetables waiting to be harvested.
What then, are we missing in our lives? What gets in our way of an existence fully lived with God?
The church is, again, at a crossroads, a battle to determine who we are– and who Jesus is.
Many are uncomfortable with the uneasiness, with the change, with the unknown.
How could God be something other than what we’ve learned all these years?
The problem with that question is that we are not the first to learn the ways of God.
And we are not the only ones who are learning.
That means that in all facets of the human condition, God is experienced in this world.
Who– or what, then, is God?
God is anything and everything.
God is the good– not our earthly or moral good, but some other Good that encompasses all goodness.
God is in you, me, him, her, creation– some pieces of us, our human, sacred parts.
And the truth is, we hold a healthy amount of fear in the things we do not know– in the adventures, on the journey, into the Mystery that is life and God.
But the church sometimes pulls us into an unhealthy fear, fear that threatens what the institutions have always deemed to be true.
But that healthy fear– that kind of fearful expectation mixed with the joy I felt when I saw those lily pads– that opened me up to God, to myself, to creation, to the world.
Just as we should not be afraid of God, we should not have to be afraid of expressions of God, the church, the ways we see God manifested in our lives, even in ways we cannot understand.
If we deny ourselves the gifts of God, we will miss something.
And if we miss something here and now, we are actually missing pieces of the kingdom, friends.
We are missing it.
And any hope of adventure, of this journey tethered close to something sacred and Mysterious, falls flat or gets destroyed by the belief systems we clung so closely to for dear life.
I know, because I was there. I was there a few years ago, when the things I’d learned as a child were suddenly challenged in every capacity, and I had to make a decision. What kind of journey was I going to take with God, and how would I encounter this world along the way?
And I continue to ask.
The important part is the asking– the thing we aren’t always taught to do in the church.
And I pray that we actually find that God is nothing like we expected in that other-kind-of-Goodness that can only be Mystery.
I pray that we find ourselves there.
And in that, we find that everything is just as it should be, adventurous joy abounding.