I’m unable to sit with the Bible perched in my lap without dissecting it—highlighting, underlining, and annotating with badgering question marks. In Bible class at school, I sit on my hands in hopes of repressing yet another round of questions; yet curiosity breaks through my closed lips regardless of my intentions.
Wearing my contemporary opinions like armor, I whack through Ephesians like weeds, uprooting everything in my path that offends. With my feminist flag raised high in a battle-cry of dissent, I read, “Wives must submit to their husbands.” Umm . . . no thanks. How can a God of justice and unconditional love play favorites?
Every Friday at 1:00 p.m. my Christian classroom transforms into a landscape that seems to mirror that of the floor of Congress as we engage in a divisive, sometimes irrational debate. Selecting polarizing biblical controversies like shirts off a hanger, my teacher leans back in his chair, ready to watch the drama unfold. Within this context, my beliefs become defensive and insular. Instead of listening to the words spoken by the other side, I’m searching for loopholes and launch points, eager for my beliefs to “win.”
No power comes from “winning” this argument, nor does strength come from shouting my opinions. True courage comes from the quiet conversations; true courage comes from listening. The acceptance of multiple points as valid allows me to view God with the complexity worthy of God’s immense power. The acceptance of the question marks ending statements devoid of concrete answers allows me to grasp that my own beliefs about God are not, cannot, and will never be complete. And that’s OK—that’s good even—because if the God who created everything could be summed up in a few sentences, then this world with its nuances and constant juxtapositions wouldn’t truly be God’s creation—immeasurable, immense, and intangible.
Allie Rutland has attended church since birth and often spends more time at church than at home. She’s off to college in a few months and is eager to learn how her faith may change and grow as she dives head first into her future.
JUNE 22, 2018
NEXT DAY STRETCH
Do you also underline or highlight verses in your Bible? Open your Bible and read through those verses (or some of your favorites). Choose one verse or passage of scripture that calls to you today, and write it in your journal or on a piece of paper. Then create two columns, labeling one “I have faith that . . .” and the other “Sometimes I doubt whether . . .”
Read prayerfully the verse or passage you chose. Write in the first column the things that you know for certain, the things these verses give you confidence to believe. Then take a deep breath, and write in the second column the things you doubt when you read these verses.
As you note these discrepancies, try not to be afraid of them. Instead, ask God to be part of your reflection and to give you patience in your uncertainty and confidence that God will be with you as you learn and grow.
Consider continuing this practice by journaling about a different verse each day and sharing your questions with a friend or a pastor. Trust that God will give you peace as you contemplate the mysteries of life and faith.