Evidence of things not seen

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Organic Chemistry.  When I was first exposed to it, it baffled me.  The professor was retiring that semester and had a low tolerance for questions, the book assumed an understanding of nomenclature that was completely foreign to me and I spent a great deal of time interpreting what was said and not fully understanding anything.  I scraped by with a ‘D’ which was nowhere near good enough for a science major.

I took it again the next semester with a young, vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic professor.  He held office hours and extra labs and I struggled to get to as many as them as I could, determined to grasp the concepts that did not come to me naturally.  I watched as classmates had “aha!” moments and I pored over the books, trying to cram the knowledge into my head.  A “C+” was good enough to move on to the next topic.

Then came graduate school.  Organic Chemistry was the base of everything I studied.  How chemicals interact, how they exist in different forms, how they share and steal from one another.  It was important to understand these things before I could even begin to dream of cleaning them up in the environment.  A professor offered an Organic Chemistry class to those who felt they may need a “brush up” as most of us had been out of college for a decade or more prior to enrolling in this particular program.

Whether it was Dr. Olson’s superior teaching skills, the fact that it was mainly review for me or my increased maturity, everything fell into place for me this time.  I spent the year full of my own moments of “clicking” ideas and I soared through, earning A’s each section.  I loved the class, and the subject that had previously been such a struggle and felt comfortable and excited in learning more about it.  

In many ways, Faith has come the same way for me.  When I first began my walk with Christ, I walked with those who studied hard, and threw out difficult concepts and ideas hard to digest.  A seriously intellectual and analytical crowd, I found myself often swimming in their wake as they accepted notions as reality that seemed far-fetched and supernatural to me.  I studied the word and tried, desperately, to cram the knowledge into my head and understand.   Last night, while trying to explain one of their ideas to a new friend, I was told I was “one text message away from sounding like “a famous and radical scam artist who cons people out of their money and leads them away from the LORD through tricks and schemes.””  This is a notion that will entertain me for another decade, because it’s so insulting and yet not exactly inaccurate.

I approached God from an analytical mind and through analytical friends.  My relationship with Him was real and vibrant and exciting.  Yet, it was also confusing, overwhelming and hard to chew on.   I was surrounded by and surrounded myself with, those who enjoyed concepts and ideas and had little experience in how those things played out in reality.

A moment of clarity arrived at dinner in 1999. 

I’ve always prided myself in being an approachable person.  I enjoy having unknowns come near me and talk to me.  I love people and often end up showing love to complete strangers through moments of grace.  This is a part of my DNA that is immutable and a part of myself that I genuinely like and enjoy. 

Because of this, it wasn’t a surprise to me that our waitress began telling my table about her son, and the issues that were going on in her life.  I listened to her with sympathy and a willing heart.  I encouraged her to share more, and I felt that God enabled me to bless her by allowing her to unload the heavy burden she was carrying and share her raw emotions with me.

I was dining with these analytical friends and discussing some minute detail of 1 Corinthians and was shocked when they complained to me, about me “encouraging her.”  It seems they were more concerned with filling their bellies in order to continue the discussion than they were in reaching out to provide a moment of respite to another human. 

That waitress became a sticking point for me.  A few years later, when I felt forced to walk away from this particular group of theologians, the comment that I allowed people to “leach” my energy stumbled me and disentangled me from the group in more ways than the less accurate and more personal attacks attempting to cause my conformance ever could bind me to it further.     

Regardless, my relationship with Christ grew through this experience.  As I threw out everything I had ever learned in one fell swoop and slowly, meticulously, began to divide the word of truth for myself over the next 15 years, I have been amazed at how Faith has grown.

What was once an idea, a notion to be explained through words and concepts has become an integral part of who I am.  Increased maturity and familiarity with the concepts has caused the notion of faith to be an “aha” moment for me that I repeat on a daily basis. My ability to trust in the unseen grows stronger through experience and I feel a “falling back” onto God like clockwork throughout my day as I reach for Him in moments of difficulties, in large and small things.

Like Organic Chemistry, I have a love/hate relationship with theology and faith.  I love the interplay and kinetic ways we can view God’s dynamic word and the ways in which He interacts with us.  But, just as my friends did not grasp that the author of 1 Corinthians would rather we demonstrate love than learn about it, my analytical brain also often has to be shut off and turned down in order for me to fully comprehend what is being played out in my life. 

I am far from perfect in my understanding but I am learning, slowly, that God teaches in life lessons as well as words.  When the emotions of another life lesson hit me, I am more and more able to rest in the surety that God’s will, will be done… and while that may end up being an excruciating experience in the present, in the breadth of eternity we really are going to be more than “okay.” 

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