I have this great new friend! I am so excited to be in the new beginnings of this relationship because it is similar to falling in love. All the newness: new stories, new perspective, new jokes, no offenses(yet), no disagreements (yet), no struggles (yet)…you want to hang out all the time and organize your life so you encounter each other more. I love it!
My new friend and I share so much in common. A passion for great TV shows, to become better mothers and wives, and most importantly – a passion to share what, who, and how much God loves. There is no subject that doesn’t usually lead us straight back to “And how does this work in His Kingdom and how do I model that Kingdom here?” I’ve vetted my new friend thoroughly by watching how she acts with others/her children/her husband, I have diligently spent an hour looking through and reading all her Facebook postings and photos over the last year, and even Googled her. This is a lady I hope to raise my sons around so I need to be sure that the influences I place around my children are solid in their love of God.
So imagine my surprise, a few months into this relationship, when she told me she was Catholic! Now, please don’t go off on me about Catholics are Christians too (I do know that) but I admit to being ignorant to what Catholics believe and most of my information has been based on movies. And those thoughts ran along the lines of solemn, quite, strict rule followers, ritualistic not relational about Jesus, etc…But she didn’t show up on my “nun” radar. As a matter fact, she is a kind of fresh breath of the coexistence of religious reverence and radical faith.
Here is a snippet of our conversation:
P: “So you know I’m Catholic, right?”
P: (laughing) “You didn’t know that?”
Me: “No. You don’t look Catholic. Are you a practicing Catholic?”
Me: (stunned) “I don’t even know what that means to be a ‘practicing Catholic’ I’ve just heard people ask others that question.”
And we are both laughing at this point.
Driving home by myself, pondering this great revelation, I heard a voice inside me speak “Are you a practicing Protestant?” I realized that we ask if people are “practicing” Catholics or Jews but I’ve never heard anyone ask if you are a practicing Protestant (or even more specific a practicing Assembly of God, Foursquarer, Baptist, etc…) . And looking at the country I don’t think any of us should assume that people are practicing any faith. It is a question that has been on my heart for the last week: Would someone say of me “she practices what the Bible teaches”? Sure, I got my checklist of good: Tithing (check), Regular church attendance (check), prayer before meals (check), christian friends (check), christian phrases (check).
It’s the issue of the heart, the one thing no person can see or judge but God Almighty. Do I mediate on His word day and night? Do I model it at home, driving, socializing? Do I seek it first in both joyful times and heart-wrenching times? Do I practice love, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, discernment, reverence? I didn’t like the answers being given to these questions – the true ones that I only answer in the silence of my heart and mind. I am thankful, most of all, that I don’t feel condemned but encouraged by the Holy Spirit. To wake up today, with new mercies and a blank slate, and a renewed heart to practice my faith.
What about you? Where do you need to start practicing today?
“Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”
Joshua 1:6-9 (Msg)