Religious Dysfunction

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"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8 (Image from iStock)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8 (Image from iStock)

A friend emailed in response to the post about dying. He mentioned religious dysfunction, which made me think of lions and tigers and bears … oh my.

Well, not really. Only lions came to mind, but still, what a weird thing to reflect on at the mention of religious dysfunction.

It’s because I’ve done some weird things in the name of religion. Just ask my husband.

Nearly two decades ago, I dragged him to Canada so I could fit in with God, or so I told both of us. Actually, I was trying to fit with my religiously dysfunctional family. One of them told me unless I spoke in tongues, I wasn’t saved.

Looking back, I think, “I should have been wiser than to listen to that sort of thing.”

Next thought, “Obviously not. I fell for his condemnation because of my self doubt and confusion and fear.”

Good thing, too. Or better yet, God thing, too.

When our assistant pastor talked in his sermon (at an Episcopal church in Pawleys Island, SC) about spirit-filled members who were roaring like lions in a Vineyard church in Toronto, I nudged my husband. I wanted him to take note of our summer vacation destination.

Next thing I knew, we were checking into Robin’s Nest, a bed and breakfast in the middle of a multimillion-dollar neighborhood in a neighboring country. Friends of our assistant pastor owned the place, so he and his wife suggested we stay there.

Before our bags were on the luggage racks, I was pacing to get back in the car. I wanted to make it on time to the afternoon church service. We attended another one the following morning before I admitted I wasn’t touched by the roaring, nor was I fond of the hour-long drive in crazy traffic to get to the church.

I was, however, touched (and moved to tears) by our quiet walks in the afternoons when we looked over each historical home for its character.

I was fond of warm blueberry muffins for breakfast, the balcony of our room that overlooked a garden, and an evening bubble bath that smelled as good as it felt. God showed up in it all, including the book I pulled from the shelf of the adjoined-to-our-room library.

I left Toronto spirit-filled and changed, just like I thought when I set out on our trip.

I also left believing maybe I need to stop chasing experiences that others tell me I should have with God and start looking for the ones he has in mind for me.

When have you attempted to follow someone else’s religious rules only to have God intervene along the way?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – God, spare us religious dysfunction that makes us believe we know your ways for others or that makes us think others know your ways for us. Intervene when we can’t hear you for the roaring.

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10 responses »

  1. Perfect! You nailed this one!

    I fortunately spent much of my life in California, and acquired a pretty laid-back approach to religion. Jesus, it seemed to me, is eminently practical, and would likely find the whole “ceremonial symbolic annointed” hoopla rather amusing, and perhaps irritating.

    Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Isn’t that what He said to do?

    I have a friend who’s in a church where they have High Priests and Apostles, and other friends who speak in tongues at the drop of a hat

    Still others are searching for codes in various editions of the Bible, codes that will tell us the exact date of the Second Coming.

    Which Jesus Himself did not know.

    Two thousand years ago Jesus walked the dusty roads of the Transjordan, telling people just how MUCH God loves them. He told stories to illustrate His points, and performed the odd miracle.

    I’m sure that if He was walking past your house, and you asked Him to help change a chariot wheel, He would have pitched in with a smile and a parable.

    I rather doubt He would have roared like a lion.

  2. ….listen to the small quiet voice and work out your own salvation…..Looks like you found what you’re heart was searching. I was raised around and in Pentecostal churches, believe, and have witnessed tongues many times as related to the Spirit. However when any belief is taken to an extreme out of balance with God and not backed up with truth and grace it is vain. Dad, a minister for over 50 years used to say ” many religions make a “hobby horse” out of one or more tenants of their belief claiming theirs is “the way”. In fact if we would simply follow the example lifestyle of Christ we would all be better. Yes, we have made religions and forgotten about our more important relationships with God, his love and grace. Similarly, we have made greedy selfish, corporations and governments instead of simply doing right.

    • Joel, your dad sounds very wise, and it seems he passed that gift onto you. I wish someone had quoted to me this passage and shaken me into believing it – “listen to the small quiet voice and work out your own salvation.”

      I believe the moment we claim ours is “the way” is the moment we’ve lost our way.

      I appreciate your insight.

  3. Most of us are guilty of that at some point. Specially when things don’t seem to go ‘our’ way. We think ‘how come he/she has that and I don’t?’ The answer is simple, Jer 29:11 says it all. “For I know the plan I have for you, says the Lord.” You is the keyword here. Yes, someone else may have this or that because that’s God’s plan for him/her. If we don’t have the same thing it’s because He’s got other plan for us. We need to take a closer look at Him, and ask “What’s Your plan for me?” and “What would You like me to do?”

  4. I was thinking along the same lines as Renee-Ann when I read your post – your concept can be applied so broadly. Seeking someone else’s version of success (whether doing religion “right” or in other areas) is so futile. I also found seeking my OWN version of success was just as futile. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable (not necessarily easy) the journey is when we take the path God cleared especially for us!

    • So true, Shel. Your comment makes me think of a Bible study I went through at least twice, maybe three times. I may need to do it again if it’s still around. It was a favorite called Experiencing God. Have you heard of it? Talks a lot about looking to see where God’s working in our lives instead traipsing off on our own.

  5. From Facebook (shared by Jeanie Johnson) –

    Perry Tesh and 2 others like this.

    Kim Henson Thank you for sharing, Jeanie Johnson.
    August 21 at 9:29am · Like · 1

    Michael Lambert “be still and know…”
    August 21 at 9:48am · Unlike · 2

    Kim Henson One of my favorites, Michael.
    August 22 at 10:17am · Like · 1

  6. From Facebook –

    5 people like this.

    Christy Young Yep, as long as people are involved, it sure is. Great blog, again!
    August 21 at 12:10am · Like

    S. Kim Henson Thanks, Christy Young. Too bad we didn’t know each other back then … I could have run this decision by you. Of course, it turned out better than I planned.
    August 21 at 12:27am · Like · 1

    Diane Wilson Dale Love your blog…and you!!!
    August 21 at 7:35am · Unlike · 1

    Christy Young “Back then” I didn’t get this sort of thing. I’m just glad I do now.
    August 21 at 9:21am · Unlike · 1

    Pet Care House Sitter I read a book once called “Messy Spirituality.” Sort of along the same lines. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone.
    August 21 at 1:05pm · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Awww, thanks, Diane Wilson Dale. I love you too!
    August 21 at 10:43pm · Like · 1

    S. Kim Henson Oooooh, sounds like a good one, Christy Young. I bet I could have written it.
    August 21 at 10:44pm · Like

    Christy Young Really!! Story of our lives? If you ever want to borrow it, you are welcome to. Just let me know, happy to share.
    August 21 at 10:45pm · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Yep, story of our lives, Christy Young. Sounds like something I’d love to read. Maybe I’ll take you up on that when I get through a couple more in my stack. Thank you.
    August 21 at 11:01pm · Like · 1

    Christy Young Anytime!
    August 21 at 11:01pm · Unlike · 1

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