It hit me this week that it’s been over three years since I’ve regularly attended my local church, something that was such a huge part of my life prior to Covid. And now I stand in the in-between, the space between the before and after. Many people would call this “the wilderness,” a time and a place where we wait for what is yet to come. In the scriptures, the wilderness is a place of preparation. It’s where people learn to turn their ear toward God, listening for where God will lead them next. And I know people can remain here for a long time.
These days, there’s a whole lot of talk about the wilderness for those of us who are reimagining faith. I’ve transformed out of some old ways, and I’m trying on some new ways, but nothing has made me feel like I’ve arrived in the promised land. I’m reminded that Moses never made it there either. Maybe I’ll never find a place that feels exactly like home. Maybe instead we help carve a path for others.
I think deconstruction has brought a lot of people closer to Jesus. Because when your community is stripped away, who else can we depend on but the One who is constant? To be honest, I’m getting pretty tired of all this wilderness talk. How do we begin to put things back together? What do we do with this loneliness, this lack of community that seems so prevalent? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy or prescriptive answer.
God’s love is infinite. Wide, and long, and high, and deep. I’ve experienced Immanuel, “God with us,” and I’ve known El Roi, “the God who sees me.” So most days, I believe this is true. But beyond that, I don’t really know what God is up to as He sifts the Church.
I do know that church is not a building. It is the community of believers; we are God’s heart walking around in the world. And if the meeting space, the budget, the staff, and the programs all ceased to be, the church would still stand. We know that. We don’t have to protect structures, or specific doctrine, or the policies we’ve created. God never asked us to. He only asked us to follow Him.
So I cling to a stubborn hope, out here in the wilderness. I am the Church, and if you follow Christ, you are too. And I wait in the in-between for God to guide us into a new reimagining. Will it be a local church as we know it? A home church, perhaps? Would it be some other kind of faith community? Beers, Bibles and Burgers at a local pub? Will it be something else? Is my own reimagining too small for God? (I suspect it is.)
Still, so many more questions than answers.
So I wait. With persistent faith and hopeful expectation, I will wait.
9 Spiritual Practices for a Reconstructing Faith
There’s a lot of talk about faith deconstruction, but what about faith reconstruction? What spiritual practices help us remain connected to God when the old ways don’t seem to work anymore? New subscribers to my Substack newsletter are getting my free resource: 9 Spiritual Practices for a Reconstructing Faith. It includes some practices that have been good companions for me on my journey toward a deeper, more embodied faith. And I hope they will be helpful for you, too.