Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Journey of Faith

Everything I’ve been studying about the archetypal journey of the hero reinforces my intuitive notion that I can never rearrange the pieces to form quite the same whole again.

This holds true for relationships; faith; philosophies; career approaches; communities—you name it. I cannot be the same person, writer, speaker, believer that I was five years ago or even a year ago, even if I wanted to. I can’t be exactly the same friend, husband or dad. All of life is moving through this constant cycle of grappling with the call to adventure; heeding or refusing the call; being equipped by the wise; crossing thresholds of uncertainty; reaching a goal; and returning with newfound wisdom, tools—and, often, humility or brokenness—in order to serve others in some greater capacity.

Marshall Goldsmith, considered one of the top executive coaches in the U.S., has a recent book entitled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Mr. Goldsmith, who is the first keynote speaker at next month’s Best of Talent Management Summit in San Francisco (I’m the last workshop speaker—hey, Jesus said the last shall be first!), is on to something. We must keep our skills, savvy and networks on the cutting—if not bleeding—edge in order to thrive with the rapid change infecting all sectors of business, education and culture itself.

One particular, vital area in which I have noticed I am unable to rearrange the parts in quite the same way again is my life of faith. For more than 15 years I have been, and continue to be, an active follower of Christ. This journey has taken me down many paths, with significant high and low moments and numerous education and career-related benchmarks. I have sojourned from having very little biblical literacy and theological grasp to being deeply immersed in the bubble of evangelical western Christianity—to the place I am now, still grounded in my theology and faith but seeing a much larger spiritual plane than the one afforded by typical Americanized Christendom.

I could attempt to force myself to simplify things and push aside the multitude of connections from various other cultures, faiths and works of humanities that scream of a much larger picture than the one painted by available scripture and institutional religion. Sometimes I yearn for that era when all I wanted to learn about was the Bible and consume books or talks inspired by the Bible. Yet I cannot go back, and I do not think it is God’s intention for me to go back. As Bill Moyers states in his extensive interview with Joseph Campbell called The Power of Myth, my faith is being strengthened and enriched by allowing God to spring free from his westernized box—even if I cannot fully say where the journey is taking me, except for knowing that Jesus remains my integral companion along the way.

I pose questions and challenges here that institutionalized leaders or bureaucrats do not want expressed, because it poses a threat at many levels. But to me the deepest threat is confining one’s intellect or emotions to a dogmatic menu of beliefs sorted out and modified across time based on particular organizational agendas and objectives.

Ultimately, being enriched by the spiritual elements of truth found in so many pockets of life is the missing ingredient that can season the bored or inconsistent Christian/Jew/Muslim/etc. into a new era of bliss. Faith that is tested, challenged and stretched becomes faith that endures, faith that is worth having.

It is faith that is constantly calling us to a new adventure, in order to better serve humankind—and, in my opinion, better serve Christ.

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At 2:13 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

John! Just saw your post at my blog! Sorry about that. And for some reason your RSS feed hasn't been coming through on my Google reader! So I have a lot of catching up to do! I'm glad I stopped by!

At 4:10 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

In regard to this: "It is faith that is constantly calling us to a new adventure, in order to better serve humankind—and, in my opinion, better serve Christ."

Absolutely. That's why, in my denomination, we say that God is Still Speaking and use Gracie Allen's "Never place a period where God has put a comma."

The journey never ends and there are so many signposts on the way.


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