Early Riser

032508_0735_2 My usual body clock for business trips is to not sleep well at all for the beginning of the week, and then get more comfortable and sleep better towards the end of the week. It actually gives me a bit of anxiety, hoping I don’t sleep late at the end of the week and have to rush or show up at the office past start time. But this week has been different. Monday night was usual, waking up every hour or so, and last night, second to last of the visit, I couldn’t get to sleep for anything. I turned off the TV at 11:30pm, flopped around on the bed for about an hour, and then dozed off until waking up bright-eyed (relatively) at 5am. No problem oversleeping, I guess. Yippee.

I just put on my morning pot-lite of hotel room coffee. I’m not a fan, and I’ll have a nice shot of real espresso later on at the office, but for now it’ll have to do. I like the smell – if I could smell with this stuffy nose that’s been lingering all week. I think my sinuses are almost acclimated, just in time to go home for a weekend before wrecking them again down here next week. Such is life, right?

There’s a thought that’s been bouncing around in my head – ha ha lots of room up there ha ha – and I would say it’s the thing that’s lingering, festering, fermenting right now. It’s from Doug Pagitt’s A Christianity Worth Believing, in the third chapter, "From Amen to Uh-oh" (follow the link to audio and text):

The irony is that we religious people give tremendous importance to the uh-ohs that lead to initial conversions. We find these unsettling realizations so astonishing that we create testimonies relating the uh-oh moments in which we realized we needed faith. These conversions are celebrated and shared and held up as great moments in the Christian story. But once that initial shift has been made, our religious system holds little room for further uh-ohs, those that might challenge rules of faith, even if they might move us toward a richer, more sustainable understanding of God. And that’s unfortunate. Being once-for-all conversionists squelches the dynamics that created faith in the first place.

What Doug has labeled an"uh-oh", I’ve tended to call an "a-ha" moment, that point in time when what you thought you knew was brought into such sharp focus that you realized you’d always missed something, that you now need to reevaluate and make changes, whatever the cost. This paragraph and the rest of the chapter captures something I’ve found to be true in my own journey – that initial "uh-oh" or "a-ha" that brings about the first change from unsaved to saved, unbeliever to believer, that first time is lifted up as a wonderful thing. But after that, as I’ve grown and studied and discovered things about God and myself and truth and meaningful things, any further questions and challenges are seen as deterrents, as problems, as unnecessary peripheral mental ethereal issues, as a waste of time.

But good faith grows. Good faith seeks to be better, to learn and to be challenged and to make meaningful changes according to what works and what doesn’t. And I think, if it’s not "squelched", to use Doug’s good word above – if it’s not squelched and hampered, good faith will lead others to good faith, to good questions, to further uh-ohs and a-has that shake up the community in meaningful and lasting ways.

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2 thoughts on “Early Riser

  1. Steve says:

    Well said, Rick. How can we think we understand everything there is to know about God at the moment we accept Christ as Lord and Savior? I’ve been married for 14 wonderful years and am still learning things about my wife. It’s exciting and keeps our marriage fresh. Even more so with God. It’s the joy of learning something new every day, of wanting to learn something new every day. There’s always something new to learn every day.

  2. Rick says:

    Well, it’s like that’s the beauty of it. We are almost giddy at first, in love and in salvation perhaps. But something happens along the way that breaks down that giddiness with rules and pop quizzes.

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