In many ways, this is one of the most uncomfortable blog posts I’ve written in my three years at Petals from the Basket. And that’s probably the reason I’ve put off writing it for at least two of those three years. Because of the familiar Christian terminology that most of you—and I—grew up hearing, I want to make sure that my words are both clearly stated and therefore clearly understood in the light of their true meaning. My fear is that someone will take a familiar term (aka: “Christianese”) and attach his or her own meanings or feelings to it. Therefore, I have been very deliberate in my wording, my explanations, and the choice of the material in this post. I have prayed over it long and hard, and I woke this morning with great peace that today was the day to put “pen to page”—or “fingers to keyboard,” as it were. My one request is that you read it in its entirety. It is a package, the contents of which each rely upon the others contained therein.
My background is conservative, meaning clearly on “the right.” While my home life was a rare one where what was taught was lived and where Scripture was sincerely the foundational element for major (and minor) decisions, I had a very “prescribed religion.” My life followed a plan, and the result of some of that plan was that I followed every segment of it, even those areas that left me empty or uncertain of their purpose. Therefore, as did many of my generational and similarly raised friends, I chose to taste “the left” for a while as well. I learned much from both, and I found that the perfect place for me was smack-dab in the middle of the road.
For many of you, your thoughts may be rushing to the words lukewarm or compromise. I am not nor have I done either—not about the things that matter.
Others of you may be thinking even stronger words like weak or unwilling to take a stand. I believe that I am not only brave but also that I am standing firmly in the truths of God’s Word: truths that are unwavering, immovable, and unchanging; truths that provide uncommon courage.
Now let’s continue.
My quietly courageous father reminded me several years ago that I must choose for myself what I will do, where I will stand, and how will that will look in my everyday actions. And in his reminder, he was unquestionably clear that each choice must withstand the test of the commands of Scripture. “But in the end,” he told me with great love in words similar to these, “you will stand alone before God. You can’t take Mom and me with you. You can’t point the finger at leaders who have disappointed you—they will give account for their own actions (though, if those actions are wrong or illegal, don’t hesitate even one second to speak up). You can’t blame institutional or traditional rules that may or may not have been wrong within their given context. It’s just you and God, and if you’ve made your choices in light of His Word, you’ll stand there with joy that you have pleased your Lord.”
So each day, each moment, I choose. I choose to follow Christ from a place that has been carved out for me in “the middle of the road.” I am not as conservative as some of you would desire me to be. I’m far more conservative than others of you would like me to be. The extreme “right” wants me to write about “issues” and to speak scathingly of those who live a life that does not follow the humanly devised pattern of “religious” perfection. The extreme “left” wants me to tell you everything you’ve been taught that you should “throw out the window.” I will do neither of these.
Instead, I will keep choosing to have a clear, unobstructed view from the middle of the road. I will remain zealous (the opposite of lukewarm) in my desire to focus my thoughts, my desires, my words, my actions on Christ alone. I’ll mess up along the way, just as I have in the past and in the present. I’ll change course when necessary, as guided by the unfailing, unchanging “lamp to my feet and light to my path.” And just as I have attempted to do all along the way, I’ll continue to focus my writing on what it looks like to be a recipient of God’s unending, uncommon grace and to claim that, apply that, and live that out on a daily, very human basis…from smack-dab in the middle of the road.
I have used my own personal photo today, not because I dig on my own looks, but because these are my words and my heart, and I am willing to own them.