There is very little I can do about anything these days. I have no wealth, and I own no property. Financially, my net worth is roughly zero. I have no power and an extremely limited sphere of influence. Seven years without a paying job will do that.
I do have a loving wife who has stood by me without complaint for more than forty-two years, even when things have been really rough and our circumstances difficult to comprehend. I also have an eight-year-old grandson, whom I adore, and a beautiful daughter who is making me proud as a hard-working nurse and single mom. I am trying to do everything I can to pour myself into their lives and to use my limited means and resources to help make their lives richer. Their happiness is my reward.
I also have a brain and a computer and Facebook and a blog. God gave me the brain, a good friend gave me the computer, and Facebook and the blog cost me almost nothing. But they are all resources, and I intend to use them.
The past ten years have been a remarkable period of upheaval and change in my life. If you had asked me, in 2004, to sketch out my expectations and aspirations for the next decade, that list would bear only the faintest resemblance to the life I have actually lived.
I am today fulfilling a vocation but generating no income. I am a lifetime churchman who, for the moment anyway, does not attend church. Materially speaking, I am a teacher without a classroom, a pastor without a congregation, and a preacher without a pulpit.
I have never been less certain of what I believe about some things I used to advocate with absolute certitude. At the same time, I have never been more certain that doubts and questions can actually deepen the quality of faith by enlarging the humility of the faithful.
In a very few areas, my belief, while still evolving and developing, grows stronger almost daily. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth somehow embodied the infinite God of the universe; that his death, burial, and resurrection comprise the most important event in human history; and that he came to preach and to exemplify the good news of the kingdom of God. Everything else I believe needs to relate to that truth with logical and spiritual consistency.
As much as I possibly can, I am trying to de-compartmentalize my life. Instead of looking at life as a collection of beliefs and practices in a variety of categories such as culture, spirituality, politics, etc., I now try to evaluate every aspect of my life according to one abiding principle—how does this belief, this behavior, this attitude relate to and reflect the values of the kingdom of God.
I read someplace not long ago that “belief is the greatest barrier to change.” I think I agree with that. At least it was true in my experience. I was so confident in what I believed that I couldn’t see how growth and spiritual maturity might require me to make some changes in my life. When, almost in spite of myself, those changes began to come about, I believe they were for the best, and I am a better person—and a more consistent citizen of the kingdom of God—because of them.
I feel compelled to share what I have experienced. That is consistent with my calling from God. (And that is one area where my evolving and developing spiritual sensibilities have not affected or diminished my level of confidence and certainty.)
When you see something I have written, you can be sure that it is an attempt to share some facet of my growing commitment to the values of the kingdom. You may not agree with the perspective I have come to embrace, but I intend to use the time I have left and the few resources I possess to advocate for the kingdom and, in so doing, to advance the good news that Jesus came to share.
It’s all I can do, and so I do what I can.