Faith beyond a Flannelgraph

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September 7, 2013 by Beth Hess

In all of my nearly 40 years, there has never been a span of more than a couple of months where I didn’t make my way to church at least once a week.

I guess I thought that meant I knew a lot about God. And prayer. And the Bible.

But maybe it just means I can sing about the wee Zacchaeus, and find Psalms by flipping to the middle of my Bible, and illustrate David & Goliath on a flannelgraph. Maybe it makes my prayers as stale as communion wafers and my Bible so familiar I turn first to other authors before reading from the author of life.

Maybe it makes me spiritually overconfident.

Because there is more than one way to go to church. And just getting my body across the threshold isn’t the way I want to do it.

I want to find myself in the Scriptures — get inside the heads and hearts of the heroes of the faith. I want communion — the real coming together with God in a way that invites him to sit, and examine, and challenge. I want prayer to be a chat with a dear friend — and tears on the shoulder of the one who loves me most.

I want the Sunday morning songs to stick not just in my head but also in my soul — and to repeat themselves over and over through my words and actions.

I want to stop GOING to church and start BEING the church. And I want The Holy Spirit to reveal to me what the heck that even means for me in each and every moment.

I want to speak Grace — not just speak about Grace.

I want Sundays to be a coming together of the wounded and weary soldiers of the faith who love on each other and spur one another on, not the only time I make for God. Or prayer. Or the Bible.

I want to be nearer. And nearer. Ever closer. Then closer still. Until I’m so buried in the heart of Jesus that I might really know what it is to know Him.

And there I will sing:
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, And it told thy love to me. But I long to rise in the arms of faith, And be closer drawn to thee. Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord to the cross where thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord to thy precious bleeding side. (I Am Thine, O Lord by Fanny J. Crosby, 1875)

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