Whenever we push up against that wall and scream I can’t take it anymore!/when the restless heart compels us toward solitude/when we feel like our only refuge is the desert… this is the moment that we recognize the nomad within. When we start searching again—when we feel like Exodus Nomads—it’s because something has changed us at a profound level. We will never be the same.
A positive event or experience invigorates our spirits to grow… increases our appetite for God… whets the soul to explore the vast spiritual caverns inside. A challenge or difficult hurdle prompts question after question and perhaps pushes us out of our comfortable spiritual home toward a place of exile and seclusion. We either feel like pilgrims or nomads.
Pilgrim: with a sense of purpose and location.
Nomad: wandering without a home.
I am still wrestling in the aftermath of profound change… laid-off from church ministry jobs twice in the past 18 months. No matter how many times they try to say It’s not personal, it is… ministry is always personal. If I had been let go from any other industry, it might be different. But because I gave my whole life to answering God’s call to work in the vineyard, I am now questioning everything I once believed about God.
Wait a sec… I’m not really questioning God… well, maybe a little. I’m questioning how God’s message gets interpreted by the people who govern the institution. How are they all hearing it so differently? I am stunned that we all have the same deposit of faith from which to learn and yet find so many extreme corners from which to shout our own theories. While it is true that one could stand in a Catholic Mass in any church in the world and feel part of the same ritual, it is not true that lived experience of the faith is universal. You are saying Well that’s obvious! but which side are you falling on? Yes… lived faith is universal… or no it isn’t.
Now that I am on the outside of the inner circle of church ministry, the view is wholly new. I feel like Bartimaeus the blind man seeing the world for the first time. And I am coming around again to a very basic question that I asked many years ago: What is the difference between belief and faith? How would you answer?
Belief: the holding of certain ideas as in a system; in religious contexts, to translate experiences of or relationship to transcendence into concepts and statements… over time, concepts and statements are considered factual.
Faith: the alignment of the heart or will; a commitment of loyalty and trust; to set one’s heart on… which requires that one has seen or sees the point of that to which one is loyal. Faith therefore involves vision.
Without even thinking I make the leaping connection between pilgrim/nomad and belief/faith. Do you? What do you see?