God Theft – Feel like you’ve been robbed?

John Denver Sanctuary, Aspen, CO

Feel like you’ve been robbed? We have.

As the pandemic continues on, way past what we’d hoped, there’s definitely a “new” reality. But it’s far from “normal”. Churches are remote. Bibles are thumping. People are judging. Unsure of exactly what’s going on, or how to respond, we are anxious.

Meanwhile, we are wondering, is it okay to access God? Can we still be just as close to the Holy Spirit with our house of worship closed? Is God still open?

Do we have permission, or ability, to maintain, grow and thrive in our faith? It depends. If it’s someone else’s approval you seek, the answer could be no. If it’s God’s answer you’re looking for, the answer is a clear, bold, absolute heyl yes.  Feeling distant from the habits and people of pre-pandemic life makes this a crucial time to keep close to God. We may even learn new ways of engaging our faith and connecting.

Several years ago, a friend and I visited the Billy Graham Library here in Charlotte. I’d never been, and she was excited to show me a specific section of it. What happened next was a sting to our friendship and for a moment, my faith. The few weeks leading up to the library, I’d shared lots of stories about hearing and talking with God while out in the wilderness, where I’d spent the summer. In the library, my friend handed me three books, all about the incorrect worship of nature over God. It broke my spirit to be warned about Paganism, and to realize she was so critical of where I felt my faith the strongest.

I’ve always found talking to God the easiest when I’m in nature. Mountains, winds, trees, grasses, they all speak to me. I could watch skies change and morph for hours. In nature, God is everywhere, and I cherish knowing how and where to electrify my faith. Her silent lecture and judgment, made loud by those Pagan warning books, cracked our friendship. We never did repair it.

One of the harshest ways people use God is as a tool, or a whip, to show others that they are wrong. It’s such an easy screen to hide and judge behind. Our connection to God is up close and personal, intimate, and best determined by us. I love church: the sounds, community, and rituals. But if someone were to ever tell me that a closed church equaled a closed door between God and me, I’d laugh. Let this be a time when we dive into our ways of connecting to God. Reclaim your right to have faith whenever you want, and take back what someone’s judgment may have stolen. God doesn’t quarantine from us, so why would we do it back?

Exercise your right to reach out to God, whenever you want. No judgment, pandemic, or closed doors can steal that from us. Faith lives in our hearts, wild and free. Right where God belongs.

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by Amanda Sturner

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A good portion of my life has been sleeping under the stars, climbing mountains, and on the best days, jumping into glacier-fed lakes. On the worst day, my student threw her backpack over and cliff and demanded a helicopter exit from dirty dirt. If you make me laugh until my stomach hurts, we may be friends for a long, long time. read more...

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