Before I start, I want stress that this is by no means a rejection of the faith that was passed on to me by my family as a Protestant. For every pastor that cheats on his wife, there are thousands more who will only love one woman. For every church that is fraudulent with their money, there are thousands more who more that give more than they are able to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. There is much that I can not agree with anymore, but there is much that I still hold very dear.
3 years ago, Laura and I, sold mostly everything we owned, bought a Airstream motorhome, and hit the road. The intent of this journey was to find out where we wanted to live, what we wanted to do with our lives, and figure out what church is. So we set out with those three things always on our mind and amazingly enough we found answers. Answers we never expected, but answers none the less. Details of our adventures can be found at www.ouramericanlife.com.
Some time after Bible College and probably during, Laura and I began to become dissatisfied with Christianity as we knew it. During Bible College rather than go to church on campus we started going to a different church every week in the Temecula area. So many churches, so many different viewpoints, all saying that they knew the correct way to interpret the bible. One pastor would say, "Just read the bible. It's all there", or "We are a bible-believing church", or "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity" and so would another pastor and another pastor and another pastor.... But what one pastor read in the bible would be different than what another pastor preached and what was essential for one pastor was ignored by another. This was reinforced every week and it is truly by God's grace that we remained Christians.
After college we tried to find a "good church" and we had some luck here and there, but then we would move, or the pastor would move, and then we just started floating. Every other week turned into once a month. Try as I might, I couldn't help sitting in a pew and think, "Is this it? Is this was Christ died for? Am I closer to God by being here?" So, I eventually turned my devotion to God into a "me and Jesus" thing. I studied and read theology on my own. For a time I was happy with this arrangement, but eventually I realized the truth, I had exiled myself. A more favorable outlook would be that I had a "desert experience", but that remains to be seen. I could have embraced another church, but that would have only been the difference between exile and starvation. It was during this time that I began to long for a church I could call home, and not just a church I liked and was comfortable at, but a Church that was home ipso facto. Again, by God's grace, I remain faithful.
As mentioned earlier, there is still much I hold dear. Examples of love, faith, grace, and devotion to God are plentiful in the church in which I was raised and especially by the example of my parents. Despite all the cracks I saw forming in the faith I knew as a teenager, it was those very examples of the faith expressed by my parents that impressed in me an unshakable devotion to God and motivation to keep "carrying the fire". For the amount of grace that has already been given to me in my short life, it would be absolute blasphemy, no matter what the future holds, to consider myself anything but blessed.
And grace will lead me home...