While the storms raged I hoped and lost hope that God would step in, only to find and then lose hope again. It was only in my surviving that I felt assured of his long- intended intervention. Only when I was washed ashore that I realized that the make-shift floats and drift wood that buoyed me across were evidence of His teasing and testing presence. While He did not guarantee me life, health or the disappearance of trouble, by his reappearing presence He did not fail.
In this most frightening experience of my life I saw a side of God I hadn't known. The All or Nothing God who before all is said and done asks those who purport to follow Him if they will follow though He slays them; if they will still refuse to bow to the pressure of the day if He does not save them from the heat; if they will still offer a sacrifice if that sacrifice is all they have; if they will still say “Thy will be done” when they realize the cup of suffering is not going to pass over them in exchange for their obedience.
Ultimately everyone comes to that junction where they grapple with a God who lets bad things happen in the world and to them. It is in precisely this type of crisis of faith where we struggle to anchor ourselves in God's goodness while bad things prevail, to not be moved by what we see, to believe even though we have not seen; that we can potentially ascend the heights of faith from which we see God with better clarity.
But if our Christianity has not passed the realm of argument over tying headscarves (apparently so as not to block the angels) or not, wearing trousers/make-up/weaves or not, listening to “secular” or gospel songs and other religious efforts to look and act the part; if it has not become an inwardly directed struggle to appropriate the power of the cross but is still a grasp for the external symbol of it; then while it may well have began, it is not well on its way to maturity and it may not survive.
Until we become aware of the deeper and more important conflicts to forgive, to fear not, to trust God, to discipline errant thoughts, to tolerate differences in people, to overcome warring appetites and to spiritually labor to become like Christ, then we will be professing an inferior and powerless faith and living in the lifeless shadow of the Christian Journey of which Christ was a fore runner and example for our sakes.
Soon enough our faith will get tested to breaking point and crammed chapters and verses, text book prayers and chants, rituals and microwaved doctrines, and a contact list of prophets will not suffice. Forced to the surface by crisis we will have to confront empty beliefs, eye service religion, one- eyed and one-legged rules which may bear a form of power and outwardly pass for wisdom but lack the actual power to save.
In calmer seas these rules serve the reality distortion fields we have been convinced into by the prophets we have paid, the preachers we have employed and the prayer warriors we have hired to tell us what we want to hear. They fit into our comfort zones where we lie passive walled in by the four corners of tradition, religion, high sounding doctrine and piety. But when the turbulence comes, it will show that externalism practiced with extremism and fallacies followed fanatically are not the same as spiritual convictions held deeply, reached laboriously and bought not at a price but at great cost.
When that day comes- that day when our theology is challenged by our reality- it is critical for us to submit those crooked and disjointed legs of our faith to God so that through our adversity and in our misfortune, He can bring them into joint with the other parts of it that he has been at work bringing to our attention and perfecting with our permission.
2 Tim. 3:5