Restoration in the Face of Deconstruction

I’ve probably started to write 15 blogs about the concept of Deconstruction. It’s a pervasive, sneaky, deceptive line of philosophy that breaks down Christianity into four words: “Hath God Not Said?” If you remember who spoke those four words, you’ll understand where I’m going with this. “Hath God Not Said?” in the King James vernacular, are the four words Satan, disguised as the Snake, said to Eve in the Garden of Eden just before she made her eternally-impacting bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. With those four words, Eve decided she needed to know more than the Lord wanted her to know. She decided that her thirst for knowledge was more important than the spiritual consequences, and so began the downfall of humanity (please note that I am in no way, shape, or form blaming Eve for the Fall of Man. I believe Adam & Eve hold the responsibility evenly & that humanity has used Eve’s arrogance to subjugate and discriminate against women since that singular moment, but that’s another blog. 🙂 ).

So, Deconstruction began in the very infancy of earth…Satan came in, made Eve question the truth she’d known since Creation, & that line of “wait a minute, is THAT what God said? Is THAT what He intended?!?” has been used & abused ever since…it’s nothing new.

In 2020, I started studying the Torah with a small group of people–my home church at the time–and as the pandemic began, we took a pretty deep dive. It was fascinating; I found myself going back to the Garden & the original plan God had for His people. As we studied things in the original Hebrew, I really found myself getting more & more frustrated at the differences between the Hebrew intentions & the English translations. This wasn’t anything new to me, but it was the first time I REALLY took a deep dive, & it came with some very frustrating side effects. I’m still struggling with some things. I’m struggling with how God laid out His word very clearly, yet His people even in those early days started off on such a wrong foot. The precedent that was set even by patriarchs such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac–these are deeply flawed people who were responsible for creating the foundations of the children of God–how do we reconcile this? How do we trust a murderer to accurately transcribe the words of God? How do we trust a man who openly deceived kings, to raise up an anointed people?

And then I REALLY got into my head about language, which has always been a struggle for me, even in the New Testament. There are Hebrew words that we CAN’T translate into English–we don’t have the words for it–and there are words the translators were actively influenced into mistranslating by those that funded the work (the King James Version is a great example, particularly in regards to baptism).

I’m still struggling with these issues. If I had the time to do the deep dive into Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I’d like to say that I would; in all honesty, I’m probably too lazy to do the work myself. I know that’s kind of pathetic to admit. Do I still believe the Bible is the word of God. Yes, I do. Do I believe that our English translation has some work to do? Absolutely…but for now, it’s the best we have. Am I willing to bank my salvation, my lifestyle, and my eternity on “the best we have?”

Yes, I am.

I have almost 37 years of reading/studying/singing this Book under my belt (sometimes barely, sometimes voraciously), & it’s never steered me wrong. It’s always drawn me closer to a God Who understands and welcomes my questions. There are things I do NOT understand (imprecatory Psalms? Those seem harsh…although I understand the sentiments, particularly when I am stuck in traffic.:) ), & I firmly believe that’s okay. Where we do not understand, we trust. That’s faith.

That’s a hard lesson I learned a long time ago. I’m reminded of it a LOT as I go through this journey of processing issues with translations.

Most of the time, when I compare the Hebrew information I’m given (my husband is really, really great about studying this stuff beyond what I can begin to process) I get aggravated as to why it’s not broken down more accurately in the English version. It always, ALWAYS puts a new light on the very character of God & His intentions for His people. In fact, the more you look at the Hebrew words in the Old Testament, the more you get the picture of a loving God Who wants a people that are truly set apart & dedicated to His goodness. Most of us that are raised in the church see an Old Testament God Who has His finger on the “smite” button…but it’s not the case, so in reviewing the original languages of the Old Testament, it causes you to realize just how much He truly adores His kids!

This disconnect with the Old Testament–seeing it as the book of the Smite-Happy God–verses the Jesus-Died-For-Our-Sins happy-lovey God of the New Testament–has created this whole, “well, the OT is all of the rules and harshness, but the NT FREES us to do whatever we want!” kind of mentality. It’s not the truth.

The New Testament is the restoration of the separation caused in the beginning of the Old Testament–The sin we started with, the gap between us & the very throne of God, is erased and reconciled with Jesus’ sacrifice in the Gospels. It’s a beautiful, circular coming to salvation that God planned thousands of years ago.

Yesterday during worship, “restoration” was a word I couldn’t get away from. There are times where we feel so stripped down; I’ve really struggled lately with feelings of worthlessness & of being ignored, gaslit, & dismissed. It’s actually a lifelong issue. I guess I’m finally able to put words to the feeling, and in doing so, am finally able to identify and process how to get through it (maybe). I think when we talk about restoration, we look at physical and material things. Have you ever thought about it in regards to our mental and spiritual health?

What would life look like if we were mentally and spiritually restored and refreshed?

We sang the song, “Homecoming” by Cory Asbury, & it hit me like a brick in the head. What does it mean, to be restored?!? Is it a restoration of mental health? Peace…feeling acknowledged and valued…feeling like I matter? Is it a restoration of family? What would it be like, to hold hands with both of my kids? What would it be like, to see my Grandma again? To feel her kiss my cheek or call me “spider monkey?”

What will it feel like, to be whole?

We’re going to know–we’re GOING TO KNOW. We have that promise. Amos 9:14 says, “and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. ‘They will rebuild the ruined cities & live in them. They will plant vineyards & drink their wine; they will make gardens & eat their fruit’.” The Bible is full of verses about restoration.

Do you know how deconstruction ties in here?

Deconstruction seeks to actively undermine the authority of Scripture and in doing so, it steals every promise in the Word.

I don’t want to live like that.

Deconstruction puts the intellectualization of the Bible above the spiritual intention of the written love letter we have from Jesus.

I don’t want to live like that.

Deconstruction steals the restoration of what this world steals from us, and replaces it with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

I know what’s good. I know what’s evil.

And I choose the restoration that Love gives.

I choose the promise of our Homecoming.

I choose the promise of Jesus.

And when I don’t understand, I seek clarity. When I don’t get clarity, I seek peace. And when peace is evasive, I still trust in Him, because through it all, His Spirit still loves without fail.

Deconstruction will only serve to decimate the spiritual, but restoration will heal your soul & deliver the promises of eternal life…so that’s what I pick. I hope you do, too.

Sojourners & the Quest for Comfort…

When the year started, I felt the Lord say from the beginning to “give Me a year. Give Me this year.”

Sure, I hemmed and hawed about it…I procrastinated. I had my book about the Torah sitting on the couch (it’s still there) and a few other books set aside, and as life would have it, me & my hamster wheel just kept spinning, and I kept on saying, “It’s early, Lord. I’ll get there. I’ll get there….”

But I didn’t.

But then, COVID.

And lo-&-behold, I GOT THERE.

In hearing God say, “Give me a year,” what He was telling me was that it was time for me to get serious about His Word. It’s time for me to read it; to love it; and to push past the arrogance of a lifetime of Christian education, & to look at it through new eyes. It’s time to read it in humility & in wonder…it’s time to read the Word with acceptance and through lenses of His love for us (or as close as we can come to understanding His love for us–THAT is an ever-evolving journey). 2020 has been a year of unlearning and relearning the Bible, and in undoing & redoing my personal theology in ways I never realized could be done. It’s been a year of restoration, depletion, and of new creation, as far as my spiritual life has gone. God put me in a position where yes, He took the year, but I gave it to Him, first…He gently asked, I stalled; He made it possible, and I have slowly-but-surely turned it over to Him, day by day.

Up until this year, I NEVER had a heart for reading the Word. I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore–I realize why I became so calloused, and why it was easier for me to act like I had it together or was so smart, when really, my head knowledge about the Word has never matched up to my heart’s understanding or desire for the Word–and I’m not ashamed to admit it’s been a work in progress. I’ve been following a daily reading plan that includes an audio Bible, and I’ve been listening to it every morning on my way into work. It’s been revolutionary. There’s so much I never noticed before, and so much that I never realized I was skipping or glossing over. Hearing the Word has revived parts of me that I didn’t know were dead! It’s drawn me in closer to God, and even though we all know I’m a salty chick, I think I’m more in love with Jesus than I’ve ever been before. Again, I’m a work-in-progress, and I’m always afraid someone will read this blog and think I’m something that I’m not. I’m a mess. I’m just…I’m a mess that loves Jesus, and is trying her best.

I’ve tried to stay committed on this path, and I hope I continue it for the rest of my life. I’ve found myself tempted by the glossy theology of deconstruction, & the only way I know how to stay on the path of the Lord is to follow His Word, so here I am…knowing there is no where else I’d rather be, even if my friends or my spiritual icons, or my personal inspirations, seem to be veering off course.

That seems to be happening a lot lately….people I used to have on pedestals (which isn’t their fault) are tumbling down into softened Christianity, selling out moral compasses for comfortable mattresses of “One Love theology.” It’s so tempting.

It’s so, so tempting, to sit back and say that Jesus loves us all, so therefore, we can ignore everything in Scripture that makes us uncomfortable….

It’s so, so tempting to sit back and say that Jesus loves us all, so therefore, we can ignore everything that doesn’t make sense to us….

It’s so, so tempting to sit back and say that Jesus loves us all, so therefore, we can ignore everything that sounds like judgment or conviction….

It’s so, so tempting to strip Christianity to one word–Love–but then to interpret that word into permission…

It’s so, so tempting to strip Christianity to one word–Freedom–but then to interpret that word into passivity.

I.

AM.

PASSIONATELY.

AGAINST

–Theology that states that we “deserve” to be comfortable.

–Theology that states that we “deserve” to be accepted by the world.

–Theology that states that we “deserve” to accept the world.

–Theology that states that we “deserve” to understand or that everything “has” to make sense.

–Theology that states that we “deserve” to accept carnal influences and allows them to strip us of our abilities to make choices.

–Theology that ties love to acceptance, and states that in order for me to love you, I “have” to agree with all of your life choices.

I can’t live that way, and I can’t accept that’s the direction the Lord is taking His people.

Recently, our daily readings took us through Psalms 119. A particular verse stood out to me:

“I am a sojourner in the earth. Hide not Thy commandments from me.”–Psalm 119:19 (ASV)

The word, “sojourner” stood out to me; it’s not a word you hear very often, although it’s one I’m familiar with. I went ahead and looked it up, just to be sure my understanding was correct. A sojourner is a stranger or a nomad. Wikipedia says it’s “a person who resides temporarily in a place.”

There was a book series I loved when I was a kid, called The Chronicles of Prydain. If ever I was in love with a fictional character, it was Taran, the main character. In the book, Taran Wanderer, Taran goes on a quest to determine his parentage. Throughout the story, Taran proves his character & the end result (spoiler alert) is new confidence in the boy he was, and in the man he has become. The overall tone of the book is the journey itself, though, as Taran feels like a man without a family or a home. He has no roots, no lineage, and no claim to be able to propose to the woman he loves.

Chronicles of Prydain | Prydain Wiki | Fandom

To wander through life without a feeling of belonging or home, is the very definition of what it means to be a sojourner. It is a feeling of being out-of-place, of never belonging anywhere tangible. It is a feeling of being, in a word, UNCOMFORTABLE.

Psalms 119:19 asks God not to hide His commandments from us–that’s because when you’re a sojourner, you need the anchor of His Word to ground you….to remind you that nope–THIS isn’t home, but you’re eternally tied into the place where you belong, which is with Him.

Christianity was never designed to be “comfortable.” It’s not designed to feel good–I mean, God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die a terrible death so that we could spend eternity with Him. It’s a belief system built on sacrifice.

Sacrifice is (wait for it)…UNCOMFORTABLE!

So, we’re sojourners—we’re just passing through this crazy world, and we know that no matter how difficult it gets, we have peace on the other side. Sometimes, that’s a huge comfort in and of itself (not always, but sometimes)…but “comfort” is the word I’m taking to task, because it seems to be more important these days than anything else.

We do EVERYTHING in order to make our lives more “convenient.” Like, I love me some Target Drive-Up or Walmart Pick-Up grocery shopping! I love me some Amazon! I love anything that doesn’t cause me to have to get out of my car or to interact with people. I love my electronics; I love my “quick fixes” for just about anything. I, like most Americans, do NOT like to be inconvenienced. I like my comfortable clothes, my super-soft blankets, and my aromatherapy mister.

I don’t like to be uncomfortable.

At some point, our desire to be comfortable has spread into our theology, and we have forgotten what our very faith is based in.

True love is uncomfortable.

True Love means I care enough about someone to say when they’re making a life choice that has spiritual repercussions. It means I care enough to have uncomfortable conversations in respect & in gentleness (I Peter 3:15). It doesn’t mean that I force my beliefs on someone, but it does mean that when that door opens, I am willing to step out in faith and talk to someone.

True Love means I stop expecting God to answer my questions. That might shock a few people–let me explain: Shortly after my daughter passed away, Natalie Grant’s song “Held” came out. The lyrics are forever burned into my brain; specifically, the line, “Who told us we’d be rescued? What has changed, and why should we be saved from nightmares?”

Those lyrics rocked my world, and woke me up to the absolute arrogance and entitlement with which I was living my faith. I will never understand the hows or whys, but what I do understand and believe is that God has a plan. I do understand and believe that God is GOOD…and even though what has happened does not always seem to match up on the surface with that, I am set in my belief that it is true. God. Is. Good….and that goes beyond the scope of my comprehension. Who am I, to demand answers and explanations from Him?!

WHY DO CHRISTIANS THINK THEY SHOULD ONLY EVER ENCOUNTER GOOD THINGS? Why do we think we’re immune to heartache? To loss? To sickness or disease? NOTHING in the Bible states that “you find Jesus, it’s green lights and allllllll rights from here, baby!!!!” NO–verse after verse after verse reminds us that this world is not our home. They remind us that yes, good can come from suffering, but THERE IS SUFFERING. I tend to blame prosperity garbage for these lies, and I most definitely think it’s a theology that’s responsible for devastating the church (I don’t agree with everything in this documentary, but the film American Gospel has some good sticking points about the Prosperity Gospel). WE ARE HUMANS. WE ARE BROKEN PEOPLE, LIVING IN A SICK, BROKEN, DISEASED WORLD. We are in the world, even if we aren’t of the world, and guess what? No matter what color you’re wearing, it’s gonna get dirty in a garbage bin. WE ARE NOT IMMUNE, and it’s total arrogance for us to think anything otherwise.

True Love means that when I don’t get the answers I want or think that I deserve, that I lean back in faith and still trust Him, even though not knowing or understanding makes me VERY uncomfortable.

A “comfortable” theology looks at the moral compasses and absolutes in Scriptures, cocks its head back, raises an eyebrow, and says those fateful words, “Hath God Not Said?”

“Hath God Not Said” are the Four Words that Wrecked it All, and they’re the first four words we say when we find ourselves faced with Uncomfortable Theology that we want to talk ourselves out of. “Hath God Not Said” are the Four Words that Satan the Snake used to lead Eve to eat the Apple and to corrupt her husband, and “Hath Got Not Said” are the Four Words that put us in this leaky boat on an ocean of UGH.

It is so uncomfortable to trust God. It is so uncomfortable to wander through this earth, through this mortal life, knowing that this unsettled feeling is permanent. We’re strangers in a strange land, and we’re a long way from Home. It’s okay that we accept the fact that it’s not easy, it’s not fun, and it’s VERY uncomfortable…

But it’s worth it….

It’s worth it for those glimpses into His character that we see in His Word. It’s worth it for those whispers we hear in our hearts from Him. It’s worth it to hear His Spirit speak into our hearts, to hear Him call us His sons and daughters. It’s worth it to know the security and grace only He can offer. It’s worth it to know we are forgiven, and that we are loved, and that we can share that love with others in this unloving world…in this world that sells a candy-coated, hollowed-out version of love that is so far from the Real Thing…We have in our hearts a Love that is more inclusive than anything the world can imitate. We have a Love that extends grace to all who ask…who extends eternity to all who seek it through Jesus. How great of a Love is that?

This has been a Most Uncomfortable Year for so many…I, for one, am glad that this world is not my home, because who would want to think this is it??!?! If this is all there is–if there isn’t an eternity to call Home–it’s sorely disappointing, even at it’s best, in the light of what Jesus offers us.

Truth be told, I started percolating on this blog last week, while I was sick, and while I was facing my 43rd birthday. I’ve had 43 years on this planet, and it takes me FOREVER to feel like I even slightly “fit in” anywhere. I always feel like a weirdo, but maybe instead of a “weirdo,” I should adopt the term, “sojourner,” because it seems more fitting. This world is not my home. Eternity is my home and my hope, and I am praying that as I continue on this road of reading and of falling in love with the Bible, that my eyes stay focused on just that….on hiding His commandments in my heart, and on hearing His voice. He asked me for one year…it’s turning into all of them. That’s uncomfortable to say…but I guess that’s the point of this blog.