Things I’ve learned and some I may never understand

ImageOh the protestant reformed church just keeps throwing me knuckle balls that I just don’t know whether to swing at or let fly by. I have grown up in the church my entire life and the array of denominations and doctrines have more ingredients than goulash. I have experienced so much diversity within the God serving, Jesus loving, bible believing churches we have attended over the years and then having grown up with very religious Catholic grandparents, with the exception of snake handling and full gospel “black church” there is very little I haven’t seen in my Christian upbringing. That all being said, there are so many things in the reformed church I have not actually practiced personally and that is what I plan to touch on today.

Now, keep in mind before I get all diarrhea fingers here, I am NOT in any means, dissing my church. I love it!! My husband and I have had our eyes open and hearts broken to Jesus in a way we have never experienced and HE was even raised in the snake handling southern baptist cult church land of long dresses, submissive wives and dancing was clearly forbidden. We have experienced much of who the world has said Jesus was and what the preacher says bible teaches and yet, at times it seems like we never really understood Him(Jesus) like we do now. I am a firm believer now, that having the Gospel brought into your  life from different “denominations” different teachers, different ways of worship, different methods is HUGELY important. I wouldnt have thought so 20 years ago because lets face it, being complacent (read “ignorant) is very comfortable and not much is required of you. “Well, I didnt know” is an excellent defense and I loved it!! But I have gotten to a place where the pride I had for my ignorance is now being replaced with disappointment because I wish I had this matured understanding of Jesus a long time ago. It would have saved me from a lot of heartache I’m sure.

Nonetheless, Here I am. At an Ash Wednesday service for the first time in my 40.5 years of life and I am faced with the decision I have been dreading, and coincidentally poking fun off all week. To get shmeared with ash, or not to get shmeared .. I mentioned having been raised with very religious catholic grandparents and they never missed an opportunity to show how religious they were. So when it had become clear to me that the direction of the service was headed into “now lets get ashy“, my heart began to pound out of my chest. It was already hard enough to keep my mind quiet and I had to keep praying that the Lord will still my spirit and shut my thoughts up for ONE SECOND so I could wrap my head around what was about to take place and how should I respond to it. I had already made the decision to give up my addiction to Facebook for the 46 days of the Lenten season. I had already decided that I wanted to spend that time doing things I don’t normally do for my family, for my house, for my neighbors and spending the extra down time in the Word, particularly the Old Testament, of which, in all honesty I haven’t even touched (but I DID listen to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on Habakkuk, it was good). I just didn’t see, even after the fantastic message the Pastor V taught, that it would be necessary for me to walk up and get the ash on my forehead in order for me to be entering this season any more deeply, committed or seriously with the intention to prepare me for the fantastic glory of Easter!! Just the same as me not needing to watch that critically acclaimed snuff film Passion of the Christ in order to feel the affects of the greatness of God, for the sacrifice He offered for my sin. I just dont NEED to do such things in order for me to FEEL the affects of their meaning or to even get the jest of understanding, and some people do.. and that is okay too!! It. Is. ALL. Good!!

The pharisee in me wants to beat myself up about it, and maybe I am a little bit. I have already felt myself getting defensive toward people who immediately pointed out my lack of shmear on my forehead as I exited the building which, sadly, I expected. (stupid).But that is an area were I know I have grown, because typically I would have been totally pissed and maybe gone off on an angry tirade blogging about how insulted I was that I was being looked down upon for not having been as religious as someone else. I’m GOOD though!! I am learning! Just as taking communion every Sunday, in a line, during worship, first freaked me out a little, I am beginning to become comfortable with it. Its becoming more clear as to why it is done and that it isn’t an act of religious superiority (like it is with the Catholics) at all!! I didn’t come into this church pre programmed with all the answers and all the clarity, that wasn’t the case at all. It’s a completely different situation than any other I have ever been in. People talk to me for crying out loud, hello??? I am grateful for God having put us here when He did, I think His timing is perfect and I look forward to the “old school” acts being re introduced to us with love, tenderness and all for the purpose of drawing us closer to the heart of Jesus. Taking that approach with people is really something amazing and I am blessed to be able to experience this in my life.

Of course, my feelings toward feet washing will probably never change, so just exhale.

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