Last week I asked “What Saved Your Faith?” as part of the release celebration for A Christian Survival Guide. I was overwhelmed with the honest, beautiful stories of faith that felt on the brink and was saved. There are so many different ways that your faith can be saved, and I’m grateful that so many participated and shared with the Twitter hashtag #savedmyfaith.
I’m going to take the next week off from blogging in order to catch up on some things I had to put on the back burner, but I first wanted to share a round up of the posts along with some of my favorite quotes:
“In the middle of the night, our church was that stairwell; our hymns, an improvised jumble of notes and rhythms that spoke of longing, of peace, of joy. We shared our hearts with one another in a way that was sacred. In the midst of the questions surrounding my faith during my college years, I found holiness in the music of a dirty hallway.”
“When freedom is as evident as it’s ever been and God’s presence breaks through the thin places again and again, yet I still struggle with occasional (though less frequent, praise God!) worries about my kids or fears about new adventures, God reminds me through songs to keep focusing on him, keep showing up to love, and keeping praising through everything.”
“Grief and loss and the iffy decisions that I made in that dark hour led me far, led me to push hard against the edges of my faith to see what would break away and what would stand. And all that while, when I battered away at the false promises of ease and lifelong marriage, as the accusations about divorce and celibacy lobbed from without and within, that love held my core tight and firm, reminding me in groans I could neither utter or hear that I was profoundly and deeply loved by One who is love.”
“As the new and clueless mother of infants who cried and demanded things in a language I didn’t know, my faith was stretched like a breaking rubber band. I remember stretching out on the carpet of my bedroom while one or two wailed, praying for peace, and knowledge and creativity, and energy. I remember rising from that carpet, tears on my face and carpet impressions, too, walking with a supernatural calm to ease their discomfort, to fulfill their needs, to be the mom I had to be, wanted to be.”
“While the timing of past events has become very fuzzy to me, there is one moment I do remember, although I do not remember when or where it occurred. I was at a point where I thought I would have to make a decision to give it all up. Faith, church, Jesus. And as I contemplated what to do, I realized it could go either way. I didn’t know anymore who Jesus was or what he was supposed to mean to me. It was as if I was facing two paths to walk down, and I had to choose one.”
“Ultimately I don’t believe it is my faith in God that keeps me going, it is his commitment to love me and be at work within me that endures in good times and in bad. He saves the faith he planted in me whenever it is threatened by times of darkness, disaster or drought. ”
“I’ve been on the edge of giving up. Weary of rituals. Weary of people equating my questions with a lack of faith. Weary of people using the first chapter of 1 Corinthians to persuade me to stop digging deeper. Weary of people telling me to “just believe.” Weary of people in general.
Then there are people that God uses in tremendous ways.
Every person that listens to my story and my struggles and says, “me too.”
Every person that listens to me recount the ups and downs of my day to day existence with even a hint of love and empathy in their eyes.”
Christian on the Frontline“These “heretics” have quite literally saved my faith and my relationship with Christ. They blew wide open the questions and dared to go down roads many deemed too dangerous. Anytime I find someone branded a heretic by a Christian, it encourages me to go read their work. ”
“Because when The Gray emerges, when it overwhelms and frightens and clouds our stories, it also sometimes forces us to huddle under cozy blankets and stare out cloudy windows and just be. We become lost in a tangle of unknowing and we question God, hurling insults at him and raising questions towards him, one after another after another, like the ball pitching machine in the batting cages. Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Our hands lob and they sling and they fire fastballs towards the Great One, wondering if this’ll be the last time he’ll lend ear to our third-degree queries. For somehow, in this insult-throwing, not-knowing, time-of-questioning period of gray, I’ve felt the most certitude.”
“Sometimes I was the only one at the altar, but it made no difference. Through my tears, God taught me deeper lessons about faith. And sharing our story with loved ones. I walked away from this time knowing one’s salvation truly rests in Christ alone.”
“It took me a full decade to grasp what God was doing. He was stripping me of my legalism, arrogance, and self-reliance. He was transforming me to rely on him, so he could show me that his promises are really true and I could learn to love him. It wasn’t about me and my capabilities, but about Christ and his cross.”
“You see, I want all of the beauty. I want the irreverent, gritty honesty out there AND the deeply mystical prayers in here. I want the pragmatic, scientific solutions for the world’s problems out there AND the earnest faith for the impossible in here. I want the big, huge tent that welcomes everyone out there AND the narrow road of life giving sacrifice in here. I want to glean the wisdom of the world AND own Jesus’ beautiful vision. I want to be a Christian, but not THAT kind of Christian.”
“I’ve long turned to books for answers and solidarity. In spite of this new section, I wasn’t hoping for much when I asked Andy for recommendations. He didn’t hesitate before placing A New Kind of Christian in my hands. It had been published almost a year earlier and when he described its impact on him, I immediately sensed it would have the same effect on me.”
“Not only is God not made of dust, He is capable of making me from dust, and you. He creates something—everything—from practically nothing. He takes ruined things and makes them whole and valuable again. But he remembers, always, that I am not more. I am just dust.”
“Learning to pray prayers formed from my own words, out of the contents of my own heart transformed my faith. Listening to the honest prayers of my fellow congregants served as an invitation into something richer than I ever imagined–real conversational prayer with Jesus.”
“When I am struggling in my faith I am particularly glad for corporate worship and liturgy in particular. Even if I can’t pray, the community of faith carries me through their prayers. Churches who do liturgical worship are accused sometimes of “just going through the motions.” I have to tell you though, when infertility plunged me to my lowest point, those “motions” were all I had. Reciting liturgy that I have memorized, that I know by heart allowed me to pray when I would not have otherwise been able to pray.”
Jennifer Clark Tinker at Life & Liberty
“The book had me laughing out loud and reading passages to bystanders, while also giving me wisdom to continue to ponder in my heart.”
A Few Reviews…
“If you are being challenged in an area of Christian belief, take a look at this book. There just may be a biblical perspective you have not considered that will help you survive with your faith intact. Above all, rely on the Holy Spirit to sustain you and keep you focused on Jesus.”
“Every year, almost like clockwork, our students who are in 11th grade suffer some sort of crisis of faith. It’s something that we’re looking at pretty hard, trying to research and discover where this phenomenon comes from. But in the meantime, as I was reading Ed’s Christian Survival Guide, I knew that I would be purchasing several more copies, and handing them out to students when these crises of faith arise. I would highly recommend youth pastors of all walks of life buy a batch of these books to have on hand to give to your students. You’ll be glad you did.”
“A Christian Survival Guide lays things out in a methodical and logical way, but it also leaves some wiggle room. Rather than having an air of authority and arrival or one of pure confusion and questioning, Ed’s tone is one of the best I’ve seen in terms of opening a conversation. He shares his own experiences and thoughts, he provides Biblical backing when he can, he offers perspectives from lots of different Christian traditions, and he is soft and gentle on things that could get confusing. In short, he makes me think.”
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I appreciate everyone who posted a review, picked up a copy of the book, shared about it on social media, and helped spread the word. This has been a labor of love for me over the past four years, so it means the world to me that you’ve helped tell others about it.
I’ll be back to the blog in a week or so.