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I have chosen my rabbit and have him in my sites. But much like from the tale of Allison in Wonderland my rabbit is elusive and oftentimes ducks and weaves and dives down tunnels giving me no choice to follow. I pursue my rabbit, so white and pure, so full of light and radiance, through darkness and through trails that have been both followed and abandoned by past explorers. Overgrown with thorns they cut deep into my heart's flesh, scarring its muscle and tissue, teaching it wisdom that can only be discovered through trial and pain. Sometimes you have to lose everything to gain that one thing which is to be treasured above all others.
There are other rabbits too.. Some beautiful with thick coats, their colors alluring and drawing my gaze towards them from time to time. When my gaze falters from eternity's pearl, tragically she fades into obscurity, causing me to come to my knees again, pleading humbly for His Spirit to direct my soul once again to the path in which my rabbit can be found.
My quest for God, for ultimate meaning and truth, for a pure understanding of why we are here and what reality consists of, has brought me from traditional pews lined neatly and organized in puritanical churches, to the nontraditional and nondenominational setting of clustered cafeteria tables and modern praise music lifted high among rattling rafters, to meditation sessions, Buddha paintings patiently and amusingly looking down on me as I lay down to search my subconscious for God tucked hidden within, a seed stubbornly refusing to sprout and manifest itself more fully in my heart.
Finally my drifting has taken me to places of solitude as I edge my way further from my brethren and seek to be nestled more closely in the embrace of my Father. There's no condemnation, no betrayals, no fear of others using what you say to gossip at a later point. The raven and songbird can keep secrets, so do the chipmunk and wood duck, their preening and scavenging for food showing no interest in my spiritual quest as I pour out hymns and prayers to God and then sit alongside the river, and enter the bliss of silence, seeking my own river of eternal water in my soul's center, beckoning it to spring forth anew, carrying me down its watery trail to Zion.
I have so many questions, so many things I don't know yet. It seems like most other Christians around me are so firm on the doctrines many of them have been brought up under. Others still have accepted them since being born again and have blazed onward, never questioning, never pausing, never seeing the many forks in the road that seem to continually rise up and enter my view every time I'm on my path. Perhaps they have an advantage, perhaps their subconscious has built-in cables to God's will that just wasn't installed into my DNA.
Heaven and Hell. That's a biggie right there. Do non-Christians go to hell just because they have never come to know the fullness of God? Because they never accepted the offer He gives us, stretched towards us with palms bloodied and heart open wide, no gates or fences, just an open pathway to redemption, understanding and salvation. Ok, I think many rational Christians could ascertain that a loving and just God would not condemn those who have never yet known the name of Jesus. Like the overused example of the lone tribe of Amazons trekking through the jungles, never yet being exposed to the technology of a light bulb yet alone getting their hands on a Bible. They can tag along I suppose.
But what about those atheists that seem to know more of Scripture than most Christians? Those who have searched, who have plodded along their own paths? Those who were once filled with hope that a Divine creator might exist and have become entangled in science's relentless snare? Don't get me wrong, science has it's place, but when we rely on science only, and not on our own intuitions and receptive natures that have the ability to probe out truth and the Divine, we only see one tiny perspective, one part among the totality of reality that limits our full view. What about those atheists, that have heard the gospel...what happens to them? What happens to the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, all who have been culturally affected by their own versions of religion and with just as much thirst have sought out truth, understanding, the end of suffering and salvation like me? Why do I deserve heaven any more just because I naturally fell into the paradigm of Christian thought and belief upon my quest's conception most likely due to my cultural upbringing in this western world I've been born into ?
Universalist can be a dirty word among evangelicals. The term heretic usually closely follows after, sort of like the second kick once you're down kind of thing. Many of my fellow Christians get pretty adamant, sometimes very confrontational and condemning at the notion of universalism. I can understand. I used to do the same thing.But I can't help where my journey is taking me. And this is my stepping out of the closet part of the post! So, hope people haven't stopped reading this already and moved on to another blog!
Every time I start chasing my rabbit, it becomes more vibrant, more full of hope, more full of light clearing the view and distance between me and him when I plunge deep into the endless possibilities of God's love, compassion and grace. My surroundings become more crisp and defined, my inward eye more discerning. Every time I let go of the fear of repercussions, not publicly but in the privacy of my own devotional time or the near anonymity of a friend's blog and write about how I really feel, what I've come to understand as truth, something wonderful happens. Every time I seek God's direction within and move past my comfort zones and find myself no longer bound by what I've always been told and stretch myself out to the unknown, towards believing what has always been taught was the unbelievable, a peace floods my heart and like a gentle wave of the ocean, it lifts me up on it's rising crest and then lowers me down again, taking me closer to the shore. And these shores I am nearly landing on are open wide expanses, filled with the abundant possibilities that only love mixed with the elixir of truth, blood and sacrifice can produce. Jesus stands on that shore waiting patiently with arms open.
Heavens, I think I'm becoming a universalist! There are legitimate doctrinal issues with my new found leanings and serious questions arise. If non-Christians are "saved" then what would be the point of Jesus' death and resurrection? Why do we need a savior if others don't and also make it to heaven? What is the point of evangelism? Many staunch opponents to universalism urge others away from this line of thinking because they consider it cheapens the Gospel. As you can see, universalism can land one in quite the doctrinal quandary.
So where does this all leave me? Well, with more questions and more rabbit holes to explore! I'm not sure the quest for truth, understanding and pathway to God ever ends, until maybe at least this life does. Perhaps it continues for all of eternity. I do think the adventure is the greatest one that a soul could ever venture on.
Kurt Willems, a fellow Christian blogger recently wrote a post, "Coming Out of the Theological Closet. You can find it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2011/08/08/coming-out-of-the-theological-closet/#more-3292 In his post Kurt discusses how sometimes we can hide some of our questions and beliefs from others for fear of rejection and he confesses openly this hiding held back a part of him who God designed him to be.
Well, I for one, am searching for my identity in Christ and I don't want my attachments towards the desires of approval and acceptance hindering that journey. One blogger who I have come to appreciate for his open honesty in questioning and seeking is William Huffhine, author of "Confessions of a Christian Dropout". His blog Christian Dropout (http://www.christiandropout.com/) explores many of the same questions I find myself facing. I love how he admits when he doesn't know the answers and I believe many of us can relate to his observations of the Church and religion. I'm looking forward to reading how his journey unravels before him and urge you all to visit his blog.
I never like to say I'm 100% right about something because I've seen my views evolve so much over the years that I know better not to make such an absolute statement. I've also been wrong before when I thought I've been right. I think if we are all honest we can find a time or two when that has happened. Many of you might not like the conclusions I start to come to here and perhaps might not like what I have to say from time to time. I urge you to have patience as I with humility search and seek and grasp my way towards a more fuller understanding of God.
Universalism, as well as some other areas of doctrine, have been clamoring my mind and heart for attention for quite some time now. I've longed to write more openly on my blog about them but have already come across some criticism in my personal life and I allowed that, at least temporarily, to effect my resolve in expressing more openly my spiritual journey. Well, that is no longer going to be the case! I plan on pressing onwards towards some of these areas in posts to come. In approaching them with a seeking heart and open mind. I encourage you to come along with with me in my journey and to be honest with your reservations and objections as well as when you can identify with my sentiment and leanings.
Any thoughts? I'm sure you have some! Please leave them in the Comments section! Thank you :)