Posted by: Rachel | November 14, 2013

Spiritual Emptiness

This week our church is having revivals. Sadly, it is leaving me more depressed than rejuvenated. Lately whenever I ponder God I start thinking about church and church causes me to think about all the insane ideas that churched people have.

I feel like I can no longer separate God thoughts from religion thoughts. And religion is thouroughly confusing and frustrating. I hesitate to write this because I’m afraid I’m casting the proverbial scarlet letter around my neck. But it seems that it is so hard to find pure worship that is without agenda.

Some of this frustration started a few weeks ago after a Sunday school lesson on 2 Samuel 6. David was moving the Ark of the Lord and because of the success he ‘danced before the Lord.’ His wife Michal was unhappy to see her husband acting in what she thought to be a foolish manner. I felt that the lesson to be learned from this small part was not to be judgmental of other’s worship.

There are people within the Amish who feel that singing in four parts is prideful and brings attention to those singing rather than to God. Then there are conservative Mennonites who sing in four part harmony but they consider instruments to be unnecessary and prideful. Further along the spectrum are those who will use instruments in their worship services but refrain from rock and roll style worship because that isn’t considered true worship. It’s enough to make my head explode that each church thinks their way to be the correct way and that someone else’s way is incorrect and they are all reading THE SAME BIBLE.

I recently had a very spiritual experience. I felt so connected to God and his universe during this time. There were no preachers, no one mentioned God’s name, and honestly I don’t even know if the other people present were Christians. Yet I feel strongly that it was a shared experience. My husband and I were on an anniversary trip to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. One evening we climbed Clingman’s Dome. It is the 3rd highest peak east of the Mississippi river. From the observation tower you have a 360 degree view. We wanted to stay to watch the sunset and so we loitered about as the sun slowly descended.

The sun is slowing descending.

The sun is slowing descending.

As the sun lowered it became obvious that others were also waiting for the sunset. There was this expectation hanging over us as if we all knew that we were going to witness something beautiful. People were taking pictures and yet, it seemed that photos could not really capture the beauty of the panoramic view. And I thought how special it was that so many people were there waiting in the frigid evening air to witness something that was entirely God’s creation. There were no spectacular electronics or pyrotechnics. There wasn’t a gifted speaker or a brilliant actress that was keeping our attention. This was the earth and sun performing an endless dance.

Waiting on sunset

Waiting on sunset

A pink glow began to appear all around the horizon. The sun dipped behind a small sliver of clouds and there was a brilliant orange glow between the cloud and the mountains below.

The sun behind the cloud

The sun behind the cloud

And every minute the sun kept moving and the colors kept changing. Every moment was prettier than the last. An amateur photographer and I both noted how our fingers were freezing and yet we kept watching and taking photos, not wanting the moment to end.

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When the sun finally disappeared behind the mountain I was surprised that is wasn’t dark at all. The sky was white and there remained a pink glow above the horizon in every direction. The sky remained light as we made our way down the half mile trail to the parking lot. As we walked down I was euphoric. The air was very quiet, like during a snowstorm. And it felt to me like this was one of the great things in life, something not to be forgotten.

The sun's parting glance

The sun’s parting glance

So it is with a weary heart that I think about God and what people have done to Him. I think of all the churches and all the people who are sure that their scriptural interpretation is correct and that someone else is doing it wrong. And I cannot participate right now. I just can’t. My head aches with the thoughts that war inside my soul trying to make sense of people’s religions.

I believe there is a God. But sometimes I forget to worship him because I’m too busy trying to make sense of whose dogma is correct. I want to remember that there are some things indisputable and that a sunset is one of them. I hope that I can refrain from doubting others methods of worship and keep other people from hindering my spiritual life.

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