I don’t feel I’ve ever made a very good evangelist.
I’m not a hellfire and brimstone kind of gal, and so my conversations are rarely peppered with words like salvation, revelation, or sanctification. As a minister-in-training people often ask me lots of very good questions about heaven and hell, and I always have to reply, probably much to their disappointment, that I know no more than they do, or anyone can, for that matter.
In fact, I remember the conversation in the lovely backyard garden of a much-esteemed professor’s house over dinner with his colleagues where I realized that my faith was not built on promises of heaven or another world, but the immanently spiritual experience of this one. While that realization was revelatory for me, I think it was equally baffling to them. After all, what does it mean to believe in God if that belief tells us very little about life after death or reincarnation, retribution, or reparations?
By that token, I may not be a very faithful person either. Like doubting Thomas, I have a hard time trusting in things I can’t see or feel, like Peter, I’m all too eager to profess faith, yet a hearty failure when it comes to living it, and I’m quite certain that I, like Sarah, would laugh in God’s face if I heard that faith is the stuff of miracles.
No, my faith it quite ordinary, if anything. It’s built on the warmth of fellowship with others and being known and loved by a God who is unconditionally faithful. It’s built on the certainty that I didn’t and don’t have to do anything to deserve God’s grace and devotion, and yet I’m invited in this lifetime to experience it all the same.
It’s tempting sometimes to try to be someone or something I’m not, and even in the name of God. Like, quite simply, this morning I woke up with a to-do list miles long and every intention of being the most productive person in China today, and then I got another message from my mom about my Grandpa’s deteriorating health, and my stomach leapt into my throat, and as much as I am physically in China, my heart floated to his and my family’s side, and I felt powerless, lonesome, and fatigued.
And then I began to pray. See, it’s at moments like these that in my meekest and at my weakest, that God leads me to God’s side in prayer, and I think about how meaningful, how powerful it is to know that on at least two continents (imagine that?!) there are friends and family lifting up my Grandfather, and I marvel at what wonderful fellowship we have in Christ.
I may not know what happens when we die, I may be a lousy evangelist and a doubting minister, but I know that there is grace for this moment, that my faith with all its dents and cracks and imperfections, leads me to an eternally faithful God, and that the feeling of being surrounded and lifting up in prayer, well that’s my miracle for today. In fact, when I think on what greatness God can do with ordinary human beings, in an ordinary world, I doubt what more there really is to wonder about.
All photos by Evan Schneider. Taken in Yunnan, China.