by Cory Upson, Independence, MO
From the Peace Colloquy 2013 session: “Singing Through Life in Community”
Doubt doesn’t come close to what I was experiencing after I graduated from Graceland University in 2009. I was in a very weird place spiritually; I felt smug and justified in what I believed, but I didn’t have faith. There was nothing real about God. I was able to think about the logical inconsistencies that exist within some theological claims and what those inconsistencies should lead to, but there was no faith in the theology I espoused. So, I did what any unfaithful aspiring theologian would do: I went to seminary.
I carried that same smug intellectual attitude into my first year at Saint Paul School of Theology. I knew that what I believed was the right answer to God, reality, and the world. But there was a strong disconnect between the how to think and why to have faith. The things I thought and claimed about God never really had any effect on me, but I loved studying theology. I loved to challenge the way people thought about God and I loved to cause problems for them. I did this because God was not real to me. God was a thought and a position that could be argued, and I loved to play the “Devil’s Advocate”. The “deep thinking” was only leading to a shallow life.
After my first year at seminary, I went to the Philippines with the World Service Corps on a lucky break. I had no intention of going anywhere that summer and was even supposed to be a groomsman in a wedding. I was supposed to stay put in my own little predictable little world and change only when it was comfortable. But, as so often happens in life, an opportunity arose and challenged me. It was the opportunity to open myself up and become vulnerable. It was the chance to be uncomfortable. I went to the Philippines as a last minute back-up and my life was changed because of it.
All of those things that I knew about God through study and thinking weren’t confirmed or disproven while in the Philippines. What happened was that I discovered why it is important to have faith in God at all.
I was grasped by something deeper than myself. I was held up by the love of the communities I was in. People I had never met were sharing what little they had with me. These people looked out for each other, they took care of one another and they took care of me. The reason it is important to have faith in God is so that we will have a life committed to the understanding that the way things are do not have to be, because God wants us to be better. God became real because God grasped me, not the other way around. Believing doesn’t do anything. Faith sets us on edge, knowing that that next great thing that God is doing in the world is here, but not quite yet, because it is our calling to take care of one another.
Having faith is being aware of the calling that God has for the world to work towards God’s kingdom, and then moving towards it.
What I believe about God doesn’t compare to having faith in God’s kingdom and working for it. I had the opportunity to be set on edge and be uncomfortable and I took it. I was changed because God reached out and grasped me while I grasped at straws.
How Shall We Find You
How shall we find you,
God who is Holy …
How shall we see you
if not in people
knit to your nature,
focused in sight—
angels and artists,
teachers and healers,
children of light.
Words: Shirley Erena Murray, 1931–
Music: David Haas, 1957–
Words © 1996, 2008 Hope Publishing Company
Music © 1985 GIA Publications, Inc.
License number: 74431A Community of Christ Sings resource
http://www.CofChrist.org/hymnal **Due to copyright restrictions we are unable to post the entire song lyrics. Please refer to the song number listed in your Community of Christ Sings hymnal.