I hear and I know. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.Confucius
When I came to the Discipleship Program (DP) I had my own set of goals I wanted to accomplish; things I hoped to learn and spiritual practices and disciplines I wanted to integrate into my life.
But I also had a subconscious list of questions I didn’t know how to ask; “Why do we do this?”, “Why is this important?”. There were certain things that I knew we needed to do; baptism, communion, reading the Bible, and especially attending church regularly. I knew that these were supposed to help me in my walk with the Lord, I knew that they were important, but why? I was ashamed to ask questions. ‘This is what we do, and that is that’ was the impression I got. I know that my parents and youth leaders did not at all mean to give that impression, but sometimes I wondered if they even knew why we did these things. I had heard all of the answers, but I didn’t understand. I read stories about missionaries like Mary Slessor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the like, who never really ‘went to church’ in the way that I understood it, and wondered if going to church was really a necessary part of the Christian walk. I saw people who went to church all of their lives but who never seemed to grow spiritually, and others who didn’t regularly attend church who seemed to me to be spiritual giants.
All of the pain and suffering that I saw in the church, I wondered if it was worth it. I thought that the problems I saw were caused by the church, and that by simply not going to church the problems would go away. That was what I thought, though in my heart I knew it wasn’t true.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.Psalm 119:34
I used to help my younger sister with her math. I was naturally good at math, and she struggled, so I would try to help her. “You do it like this, and it comes out like that” I would tell her, and show her how to solve the problems. She could copy what I showed her, but she didn’t understand, and when she needed to use the same technique on a different sort of problem she was at square one again. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help her understand (I also have very little faith in my ability as a math tutor). That was how I felt about going to church; I knew what to do, but I didn’t understand. I was just copying what I had been told to do, and when different problems or difficult situations arose I didn’t know how to handle them.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.Psalm 119:73
DP wasn’t – and isn’t – a magic ‘fix everything’, and certainly not in an instant. I can’t explain what happened; I don’t think that it was anything that I read or was told, but something I saw. It wasn’t just ‘one thing’ that suddenly changed everything; it was a slow realization that now, somehow, I am beginning to understand:
- why we go to church.
- why attending church regularly is important.
- why we are baptized.-why we take communion.
- why we read the Bible everyday, even when it doesn’t ‘feel’ as alive as I would wish.
This is something that means a lot to me. I had accepted that there are things in this life that I won’t understand, and had just thrown these in along with everything else. I had been told and believed (and still do) with all my heart that faith keeps going even when you don’t understand. I didn’t come to DP looking to understand these things, but I am so grateful to the Lord that I can now – after years of struggle and months of healing – say “I understand”
The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.Psalm 119:144