Here’s a little-known fact about me (at least on the internet): I have a master’s degree in theological studies.
Well, that’s a good question. The uncomplicated answer is that I used to want to be a lobbyist for faith-based social justice groups (Bread for the World is a good example of one). After trying my hand at the endeavor during graduate school, I learned that lobbying would suck the joy right out of my soul, and leave me a bitter shell of a person. Sounds harsh, but it was true.
But there was another reason I wanted to go to graduate school: I wanted to do a bit of wrestling.
Let me explain. Actually, I think I’m going to let the Tiffany from November 2002 explain (courtesy of an old Livejournal post!)
“This is my time to wrestle with God. And yes, this is a good thing! Did you know that Israel means “to wrestle with God”? I’m so digging on Judaism! Even though it is a fair criticism that I have placed myself in a super-liberal environment, and am therefore risking the level of challenge my beliefs may face, I have found that God, my colleagues, and my professors have been able to take some pretty good swings at my theological presumptions. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, someone knocks me over and I discover, once again, that the “sound foundation” I created was only straw.
Furthermore, I wanted to come here so that I would be around people of faith traditions other than Christianity. And man oh man, have my true colors been shown to me. I always liked to consider myself a pluralist, one who had an equal respect for all faith traditions. But seriously, people, who was I kidding? I am so not a pluralist. I am an inclusivist. I like to believe that deep down everyone is a Christian. And I am so wrong. But I love that I know that now. I acknowledge where I am right now, and am really focused on having some dialogue with people who meet God in fundamentally different ways. It’s so amazing!”
8 1/2 years after writing that, I still am striving to be a radical Christian, full of agape love for others. And I fail every. single. day. To be Christ-like is no walk in the park, and the way I approach my faith is even contrary to how many Christians approach it. But I have to go with the glimpses I have seen of the Divine and know them as my truth. I do firmly believe that God speaks to us in more ways than we might ever even realize. And we must take great care and show some humility should we ever find ourselves thinking we have it all figured out…
There are so many different doors that lead to one, but in the end, I think we each have to pick one to go through. For me, that doorway is Christianity. There are two key things I’d love to share with you about what I believe God’s relationship with people is like, based on my own understanding of the Divine. First, I believe that God is intimately connected with humans, and plays an active role in our lives. God wants us to reach out, to ask questions and yes, even to wrestle with God. Second, I believe that God doesn’t want to be thought of as a magic Genie. We are given free will and the ability to make our own choices and to do the hard work we need to do in order to get through life successfully.
This is why Matthew 7:7 is so appealing to me. Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” This captures the essence of how I believe God wants to be in relationship with us. Never hesitate to reach out to God, for it is God’s deepest hope that we will engage in a relationship with Him (it pains me to use gender-exclusive language for God, but alas, I caved in here). And God’s gifts to us are infinite, though perhaps not always what we expect. But on the flip-side, get yourself out there and Ask, Seek and Knock for yourself. Do not leave it all up to God to do for you. You play a role in your destiny, as well.
At least that’s how I interpret this passage. I’m curious to hear what you, my readers, think of it. What does it make you think when you hear it?
Today as part of this post I’m featuring a beautiful canvas print from Red Letter Words. I met Dee, the owner of the business, at Blissdom. After returning home, I found myself visiting her site again and again. I thought her prints were lovely and very inspiring. She has many quotes from the Bible put to canvas, but her selection goes beyond biblical references. I especially love that she can put together custom canvas art, using whatever words or quotes inspire you!
Prices at Red Letter Words vary based upon the size of the print you selected. My print is 12×12, which is an excellent size because it is a bit larger than an 8×10, so it stands out a bit more. Right now mine isn’t even on the wall, but is on the buffet in my dining room. I look at it every single day, and it reminds me to turn to God, and to also take action, myself, if I am in need of something. It has been a blessing.
Win it!: Red Letter Words is excited to offer one Stuff Parents Need reader a 12×12 cafe mount print of your choice (excluding custom orders) (a $55 value!). The contest will run until May 5th at 11:59pm EST when a winner will be selected via Random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a the prize is forfeited and a new winner is selected. Open to residents of the United States. Limit one entrant per household, please.
EDIT: Please note that I originally posted the value incorrectly…$55 is correct. I apologize for the confusion).
Mandatory entry: Tell me anything that you feel like sharing about your faith, or about your thoughts on religion or a relationship to the Divine. Anything related to the topic works for me!
Rare bonus entry: Like Red Letter Words on Facebook
Be sure to enter my other current giveaways, found on the sidebar of my homepage.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.