Back in the day when I worked for Youth for Christ I was invited to lead the Lent Retreat at Rugby school. It was a surprise to be asked by a friend at College where I was doing my clergy training – I am not exactly Rugby material. It was also a great privilege and I prayed hard for a title for the week that would reflect the nature of God and help the pupils to prepare for Easter. I came up with “Embracing the Mystery”. I hoped that this would encompass the spectrum within our faith of both the intimacy and the unknowable nature of our God. I took a YFC mission team with me and we seemed to achieve our hoped for objectives as we engaged with them in lessons, evenings and casual conversations.
I have often come back to this phrase as I have reflected on my walk with God. It has helped me hold in tension those things in my life that I have found confusing: suffering, how prayer works (a future blog), the Trinity, being childless, being made redundant from a Christian organisation, to name a few. I do not refer to these things as blind faith or trials, but I just don’t get it (at least for now). I get enough of God and how the Christian faith works, that I have become more secure that the God is not just my best friend but also the unknowable. To make a decision to accept, enjoy and hold on to “so what is that all about” has enriched my faith too much to go back to have a God and a faith that is clear cut and completely understandable. My journey has become a stumble by a bit of enlightenment, but I appreciate a God who must be by the very nature of being God, mystery.
The Northumbria community has a paradox prayer, this is one part – Lord you have always given peace for the coming day, and though of anxious heart today I believe… both are true. This for me is honest Christianity.