Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Rock or Bobber?

When we visited the charismatic church on Sunday I didn't know what to expect. We were told to expect "Vegas-style worship." I didn't know what that was, but I could hear the music while standing outside of the building so I knew it wasn't going to be subtle.

We all need defenses. Boundaries are part of being human. I've drawn mine pretty tight, having faced a difficult choice when I was a child. Do I let the adults around me dictate what kind of person I'm going to be, or do I do it myself? I didn't trust them. They told too many lies. I was good at figuring things out, so I did it myself.

Problems came up later. A child isn't subtle. There's either a stone wall for defense, or there's nothing, which isn't a good way for an adult. By the time I was an adult, however, I'd had lots of experience with stone walls. You get good at what you do, and any other way is frightening.

Another problem with walls is that they only defend against what you know. You can't build a wall to keep out a threat you don't know about, unless it's generally related to something else.

God used these characteristics to get my attention. His real love, as demonstrated by various people in Mosaic, found an undefended place and invaded. Truth wasn't far behind. Continued love dissolved the stone, which was frightening until I realized it was being replaced by something else that was both stronger and more permeable. In short, I'd run into the same abrasive life situations but these events no longer wiped me out. I'd bounce around a little bit, remain aware, and go on. It takes practice. I'm not very good at it yet, but the Holy Spirit is very good at teaching.

We got into the church about 15 minutes late. Ear-splittingly loud music, spotlights on the singer and instrumentalists. Vegas-style, indeed, and two thoughts came to me. Where is God? That was followed by remembering the passage in 1 Kings about Elijah and God's quiet whisper. It got worse when the preaching started. Very loud, little content, and that content based on bible verses taken out of context and misapplied.

I also thought about religious experience. Emotion was thick enough in that place to float on. Many people did, letting the current take them along. They abandoned themselves to it.

In the old days I would have turned into a rock, like a headland projecting into the ocean. The waves beat on it but it doesn't move. Just stands there in masterful immovability, unaffected. That sort of unconscious rigidity doesn't please God. He did something better for me: I was a bobber this time, one of those old-time round fishing floats. Anchored to God's solidity, I just floated over the turbulence, watched what was happening, and let it go.

I also prayed for them. I asked God to show them His reality behind all of the noise.

It's not a horrible church. There is some truth there, and they obviously minister to many people. They are missing out on God's best, however, by drowning His subtle strength in this human-made cacophony. It's most definitely not my church, but they did teach me something. God's kind of strength is a very special thing, and I'm very glad He shares it with us.

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