The flourescent blinked in and out as I examined my bleeding gums. I patted my wrinkled skin with a dry towel and stretched my mouth wide open…anticipating my teeth would be filled with…rot. everything is rotten. rot, rot, rot. I am depressed.
I am so depressed. Where are You, God? I mean, I listened to You. And everything sucks.
I listened to the “call of God” and returned back to my home town. A town that has tried to kill me since I was born. I used to drive around its curves and hear the trees cry out for my blood. I hated this place, but somehow loved it. Wanted it to be saved from religion- saved from the “isms” that separate people. But I didn’t want to come back. But he told me to Go. I left my money-making job, packed up my books, wrote a church-plant strategic plan, delayed a marriage, and came to Atlanta!!!
When I had announced to some that I was surely called to go and love on people abandoned by the church they reacted like cows. Bovine emotion. cud chew, cud chew. Many of my friends were “succeeding” in the world of mega-church grandeur. And I wanted to hang out with hemp smokers, hookers, hipsters, homos, and homeless people. I looked into their eyes and pleaded my case…the case to love outcasts, especially the “queers.” Oh, Bec they seemed to say as they chewed their cud, “You just want to be a rebel”. No, I want to be like Jesus. I am done with churchianity. I respect it, and I love hymns, and little miss betty, BUT THERE IS A WHOLE BROKEN WORLD SCREAMING FOR LOVE and we argue over theology on facebook, chatter about what the soloist was wearing, and stuff our faces with chick-fil-a while listening to Phillips, Craig, and Dean thinking that we have arrived while we look down our noses at the whitegirl neighbor and her live in black boyfriend who have two children out of wedlock. We don’t see our sin in Christianity, we are too busy judging our neighbor. And we don’t give a CUSS about the world’s problems- after all we tithe regularly and give a small portion to missionary Bob from India and his pretty wife who has big hair and pink dresses.
REALLY GOD< REALLY WHY?
My dearest dark-eyed prophet friend looked at me when I said I was moving back. She believed me. She said,”Bec, you hear from God. You cuss some. and You are real, but you hear from God.”
And now I am here. Almost six months later. No denominational backing. I am waiting tables. I am nearly 35. I have 490 plus books on theology, missiology, and ministry and what am I doing? I meet with homeless people, lesbian couples, atheists, and social misfits at bars and on the streets of Atlanta. I counsel those kicked out of their church for “falling into sin.” I spend my days, trying to love on the people who have been hurt by church. Oh and then there is my selfishness: My delusions of grandeur that come with a pentecostal call experience. I am not the charismatic evangelist with lights in her face that swings her hand and thousands of people go down under the sway of the Spirit. And that is what I thought ministry was.
And my teeth. They ache. dangle in my skull. The fluorescents pulsate again. I scream at God muffled through my listerine and mouth full of toothpaste. WHAT THE CUSS, GOD! this sucks. this sucks bad. people talk bad about me. Old friends say I am offensive in to traditional christians. I feel I have been abandoned by my old home church, I feel abandoned by the church in general, I feel abandoned by YOU GOD!!!!!!!!!
SURE, its my fault for POSTING MY FEELINGS ONLINE ABOUT THE CHURCH’S NEGLECT TO LOVE. or purposing that ministry could be done differently than what it has been done like. Or if hell if a literal burning fire, or if adam and eve were real, or if we should really give a dang about people. Yeah, I am a heretic because half the darn time, I wonder where you are. I cry out in pain, because I am the rejected. I get mad as hell, because I don’t have all the theological answers. I have no effin clue what most of your “holy scripture means”. I don’t even know how holy it is! it seems as holy as a poem, as a song, as a painting. It seems as holy as a tree, a creek, a star in the sky and the horizon at dusk. I trust you, but I am mad.
Usually after screaming at our creator, I cry. or listen in silence. But tonight I opened up the bible. yeah, that thing many evangelicals wield as a sword to kill other people instead of lift them up. But i admit it, I love the Bible. I love scripture. I think its phenomenal. I don;t like everyone’s interpretation and yeah, I think I need you and me and that guy down the street to better interpret it. But anyway, I opened it and found a story about a man named Jeremiah who yelled at God. And does God come to his rescue? Let’s look:
You are right, O God, and you set things right. I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?
Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots.
They flourished and produced fruit.
They talk as if they’re old friends with you,
but they couldn’t care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
You don’t let me get by with a thing!
Make them pay for the way they live,
pay with their lives, like sheep marked for slaughter.
How long do we have to put up with this—
the country depressed, the farms in ruin—
And all because of wickedness, these wicked lives?
Even animals and birds are dying off
Because they’ll have nothing to do with God
and think God has nothing to do with them.
5-6“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
Those closest to you, your own brothers and cousins,
are working against you.
They’re out to get you. They’ll stop at nothing.
Don’t trust them, especially when they’re smiling.
WHAT GOD, REALLY? You mean things sucked even more and you told Jeremiah to get over it. blah. It sucks God. I know it will get worse. But I also know that You are faithful. A bit of a Madman, and kinda a cosmic jokester- but you haven’t let me down. I know you called me to meet here in Atlanta. with people who are jacked up. people like me. with people who are intellectuals who don’t buy into what old preacher bob has to say. I know you have called me to this. So I will go to my bar, and meet. and talk. and find common hope, knowing that you are in every step of my walk- even the times I think I have stepped into a steaming pile of CUSS. oh and the horses, Maybe you can give me a break before unleashing them. after all, I do believe in You. I love you. and I am following your call- to the best of my broke-table-waiting-teeth-rotting ability. so heal me. change me. make me less angry. can you help me forget I am the laughing stock of the town? can you make me remember I am your chosen child? can you love me more than the approval i have worshipped like an idol? can you show me Jesus in the face of another homeless man?
Here I am. Your very own outlawpreacher, and I need you more than ever. even though I am mad.
give me a breather. and hold those dang horses for a minute.