Beware the Vosh

There is a voice that rises up in me.  It is not my voice.  It is not God’s.  If I had to give it a name, I’d call it the Voice of Should-Have.  Vosh, for short.

Vosh speaks the words that I think I’m supposed to think.  He tells me to feel the feelings I’m supposed to feel.  Vosh is a voice for the way the world works.  He’s a voice for the way the world thinks.

Vosh is a master mimic.  He can pitch his voice very much like that still, quiet voice of the holy spirit.  Other times he speaks so much like my own self that I barely know it’s not me.

When I think about the importance of being child-like, of wandering, of exploring, of being open, with out a goal or agenda, Vosh chimes in.

He speaks up.  He calls me out.  He can be quite intimidating, when he has to be.

Vosh says things like, “Your spirituality is too important to do those things, be an explorer.”

At first, I try to bargain and clarify with Vosh.  There are vital and important things I believe.  To these I hold firm: I will follow Jesus because he was uniquely the son of God and he paid the price of my sin to restore my relationship with him.

But at some point, I have to man up.  I have to call Vosh out.  I have to name him.  And I have to say that my spirituality is too important not to be a wanderer.

As I reflect on my life, I see that my need to act as though I had the answers was some times an act of idolatry.  I was worshipping my own cleverness.  Other times it was an act of faithlessness.  I did not trust God to work it all out and suspected that he needed me to explain things to him.

There is an act of submission here.  Submission is so hard.  Especially when things are challenging.

Have you ever driven on an icy road?  For me, the hardest thing is that as the car begins to slide, you have to relax.  If you tighten the grip, things go from bad to worse.

Or repelling.  Have you ever repelled?  It’s an incredibly unnatural thing.  The more you lean back, the closer you coming to make a 90 degree angle with the cliff, the more control you have.  Our instincts tell us, when we feel unstable, to hug the rock.  But the thing to do is lean back and away from it and trust the rope and our feet.

As we sense the importance of God to us, our natural instinct is to want to be tidy, organized, goal-oriented.  Rely on our little human words and thoughts.  We’re told that this is the way to be.  Vosh says it.  It must be true, right?


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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