A place to begin

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

A guy comes into my study every once in a while to try to believe in God. Larry finds all our biblical stories kind of quaint and poignant, but unconvincing. He wishes he had something more than just his skepticism. He says, “I’ve clung to my skepticism like a lifeboat—but where has it gotten me? I’m still all alone in the middle of the sea.” So he wants to believe. I tell him that’s a pretty good place to start.

That’s all we ever have: a place to begin. None of us has the final truth; we all just start where we are and go from there. None of us possesses belief in all its fullness. But there is a wanting to believe; there is some kind of urge or leaning, a desire—or even, dare we call it love?— in our hearts. Deep within us lives an attraction to the Mystery that seems to be Someone, a desire for the God we can’t know, a love for the God we can’t always find. That desire, that gravity that draws us toward the great dark shape we can’t see, is our starting place, every day. If you have felt God’s hand on your heart, or heard her voice in your dreams, count yourself lucky. But know that memory alone will not draw you forward, without that pull of desire and even doubt. Whatever you remember or believe, whatever you possess or know, it is not your death bed, not a stopping place; it is a place to begin.

Something prowls in your heart that is true and powerful and it gives you life and moves you forward. It may not be belief. It may be a vague sense of how things ought to be, or hope disguised as loss. What is it? Sit still and let it emerge from the shadows. Let it speak, let it invite you. In what direction does it point you? Go there. That desire is the voice of God, pulling you closer. Follow it.

Larry comes in now and then, and we talk about the God he’s looking for, whom he doesn’t find, whose mystery haunts him, whose dream clings to him like a smell, whose voice is still coming together like bits of the wind. We talk about what’s real in his life, and how this God in whom he doesn’t believe keeps showing up. It’s like watching two people fall in love. It reminds me that I, too, am in a place to begin. I give thanks that somehow Someone has given us a place to begin. “Don’t be finished looking,” it all says to me. “Keep beginning. Keep beginning.”

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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