Traveling Together

Over the last fifteen years I have found the description of the Christian life as a journey has helped me wrap my mind around many of the facets of following Jesus in a world that seems contrary to Him and His ways. There was a stretch of time in my twenties that I refer to as a “desert” season, a time when I felt lost, dry, and tired. Disillusionment, resignation, and hopelessness marked the path in front of me. I struggled to know what to believe about Christianity as a faith system. I believed in the Bible, and I believed in Jesus; beyond those two things I was at a loss. The major reason for this doubt, which came years after my coming to Christ, was that over time I had developed passions and concerns that were out-of-place in the faith communities of which I had been a part. Eventually these ideas led to a necessary parting of our ways, and I began to walk a new road…alone. Along the way there were a few sustaining oases, the occasional marker to guide my feet. One provision, though, came along after a few years and kept me from giving up the journey altogether: companions.

            I met people who thought about the same things as me, who cared about issues of war and thoughtfulness, justice and creation. We wrestled with the interplay between holiness and mercy in light of the heaviness we all carry, the burdens of orientation and addiction and dark questions that weigh us down. We played music, ate meals, talked until the wee hours, challenged each other, fought, argued, realized we believed the same things, and then started up again in the morning. I listened to educated men and women talk about philosophy, feminism, and politics from what they called a “Christian World View.” Until then I hadn’t known there was space for such issues in a Christian’s world at all.         

My eyes had been fixed on the ground in front of my feet for a very long time. It wasn’t until I heard others’ conversations that I ever looked up, and I discovered there were people walking the path alongside me. I allowed their conversations to penetrate the constant stream of thought in my mind; eventually I added my voice to theirs. They helped me find a place in the family. They taught me that I can see and feel and hear the truth that Christ is always with me, never leaving me alone, in their eyes and arms and voices. Since then I have come to value my travel companions above almost all else; they keep me honest, and safe, and able to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the road is hard.

            Once a month some of us will be gathering at a local pizza joint to travel together. Specifically we want to take time to examine what we think we believe, let ourselves be challenged and taught and supported by each other. As followers of Jesus what we believe matters because those beliefs inform everything we do. It’s so easy to blindly identify with this or that group, espouse a tag line, or fool ourselves into thinking we believe the “right things.” By coming together to discuss, for example, the mysterious role of the Bible in our lives and world, we journey together toward honesty as we ask the dark questions, deal with the elephants in the room, and find that there is space for our secret thoughts about Scripture.

            People offered me companionship during a time when it was most crucial. I’ve learned that I need such companionship as much as I need air or water. I hope some of you will be interested in taking advantage of this time and space to join in the conversation, and maybe find a few traveling companions of your own. Our first meeting will be on Wednesday June 29th starting at 7:30 pm. Eat, drink, talk, whatever…the only rule is that we respect each other first and foremost (which means no debate for argument’s sake alone :). We’ll be talking about the origins of the Christian Scriptures, what they are, how they became the Word of God, and how we each decide what authority to give them in our lives. This is a really important topic to me; the Bible has been my compass and map all along the journey. I hope to talk more about that with some of you at the Works!

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