05 March 2010

Jesus saved my Life

This morning, reading Friend Johan's latest blog, Meeting Jesus Halfway, (http://johanpdx.blogspot.com/2010/03/meeting-jesus-halfway.html), I had one of the glorious revelatory "duh" moments. I thought I might share it with you here.

I have been railing and fighting the fundamentalists for much of my life. At one time I allowed them to force me from my church home. I went flying out into the desert, willing to face life alone rather than live with these "fools" who tried to tell me that in order to live in the spirit of Jesus the Christ, I too had to face the cross, to sacrifice myself and be reborn. I who had known a personal relationship with the God/Jesus of my understanding for my whole life, was told by Christian scholars that my theology was too simplistic, that it would not stand the tests of ministry, but not to worry, my seminary experience, while devilishly torturous, would raise my understanding to a scholarly level. The result: I left the pursuit of denominational ordination in another religion.

Years passed and I wandered in the desert. I still heard the voice of God saying, "You are a minister." But now when I heard it, all I wanted to say was, "Go away, leave me alone, Shut Up." Better to be alone than to worship the false idols of Christians, a God who could kill, albeit massacre people, in the name of salvation. A God whose leaders judged whether one's faith was suitable based on the letter of the law their own prophet had eschewed, rather than the proof of a life lived. I had no need for it.

There was only one problem: The still small voice would not go away. I busied my life doing good deeds, proving that I was a far better person than "those hypocrites." It doesn't take salvation to make a good person, I declared. I studied buddhist meditation, teachings of Judaism, read the Koran, explored native american rituals, always seeking. On the few occasions I became quiet, the voice would return, counseling quiet peace.

In that process of seeking, I came to a Quaker meeting. There on a rainy Sunday, I heard others rise and speak what they were hearing when they became quiet, and their accountings were remarkably similar to my own. In this very liberal part of the Quaker world, there were even people like me, who had felt abused in the name of Jesus, and didn't even care to say his name. My new Friends said to us, "Are you seeking a relationship with the God of your understanding?" "Yes..." "Then you are welcome to join us."

Gradually, I had the courage to listen again. There it was! The source of my guidance all the years before had not left me. Once again, I heard the clear yet simple direction of that inner leading, and I came to be convinced I was a Friend, that the voice was my Friend. It was one of the most peaceful and yet celebratory experiences of my life.

Sadly, it would take me many years to understand that this was the Jesus of which Johan speaks. I was too injured by the "Christians" who had tried to teach me the "right" way. Yet curiously, as the Light nurtured me and grew within me, I began to have less vehemence against those people, and more understanding that they like me were also seeking, yet were so fearful, that they could not stray from the Letter of the Law. What a sad existence, I thought.

The fallout of the abusive relationship I had with Christians has affected my relationship with the inner Christ all my life. I often do not trust him. I am afraid that if I follow he will lead me someplace where I might be abused or massacred. Because I do not trust him always, I do not trust you. So, just when I am at the edge of the most amazing spiritual revelation, I have been known to turn and run, not to be heard from for years.

It is only because of the love and nurturing of Quaker spiritual community that I have slowly come to understand that the voice of God, the inner Light, the living Christ, the unspeakable, call it what you will, is alive and accessible to me. I could not do it alone. Then I walked in the desert.

I could not do it following the Law. Then I feared certain death and destruction if I fell from the path.

Only in the quiet communion of like Friends, was I able to find the nurture to recover from the abuse of the Law.

I do not have to be a Christian to know Christ. I do not have to be a Buddhist, to know the Buddha. I do not have to be a Muslim to know Allah. I need to be me, and I need to listen.

If you think you are surely on the Path, and the Path calls you to tell another that they are Wrong, that they will surely perish if they go this way or that, that you have the Answer for them and you fear for their soul if they do not follow it, then you have surely lost your way. Stop and listen to that still small voice.

Jesus saved my life.


  1. That made me cry and speaks to me so much as a seeker. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful story. I am glad you found what you were looking for. I am still looking....pray for me.

  3. I've been walking that desert for a number of years, and there is now a stirring inside this jaded, crusted, near-embittered 45-year-old soul, also the recipient of hatred, spite and backstabbing in the name of Jesus.

    I've never desired to blame Jesus, because He never condoned this behavior in His name. Plus, to do so would be to give these Pharisees the power to speak for Christ - power they do not deserve.

    A change began three weeks ago in North Carolina when I became acquainted with Philip Gulley (through some good friends from the DC area who came down to see him talk). And with it, I received my first taste of Quaker worship. I've read PG's latest book, If the Church Were Christian, and it's as if he is reading my mind.

    I've attended a local Meeting for the last three Sundays .... still too soon to put anything in ink, yet I like what I know so far. Meanwhile, I'm praying for guidance.

    This still seems, well, too good to be true.

  4. RW, Blessings to you...I know it is a long journey, and even when your heart yearns to come in from the desert, it is hard to trust it is safe to do so. Philip Gulley is a modern day prophet, it seems to me, and I love reading his books. My favorite referring to this journey is "If Grace is True," which we have used in our Meeting's Seekers group to help us explore what we each believe about the expansiveness of God.

    It seems to me that if God is able to relate so personally to each of us, then God is growing as we grow.

  5. Thanks, Linda. "Hard to trust it is safe to do so" .... that is the heart of it. It seems over the years that every time I've looked toward a path, I hit brick walls. It's always about the rules. Vote a certain way. Toe the line.

    Too many churches are all about the bait - making themselves all "welcoming", going over the top with the friendliness ... even the pathetic use of teen vernacular by a so-called "youth ministers", some older than I am (I'm 45). Or embracing the "purpose-driven" stuff. Church as a big concert - with the minister making his entrance in an Elvis costume - I'm not kidding! They position themselves as an 'alternative', a backhanded front for the same old Kool-Aid.

    What impressed me the most about Philip Gulley at his talk was his honest humility. It's present in his latest book, too. I'm a fan, and I'll be reading his other books.

    I just wish I'd known of him sooner. I'd never heard the name until our friends brought it up. And just one month ago, the Religious Society of Friends was not even a blip on my radar.

    Thank you for the insight you're offering. Ice water for a parched soul.


  6. You are very welcome, Russell. I assure you, Quakers are the real thing...but don't put us on a pedestal. Every meeting, due to the quality of ongoing revelation and the people in each meeting, has it's own unique qualities. I have found it important to find the 'right fit.'

    It is common however, to hear people say things like, "I was always a Friend and just didn't know it;" "I felt an inner peace here that has stayed with me the week;" "I felt a Presence worshiping with us."

    You can feel free to write me at linda.j.wilk@gmail.com if you have specific questions that you cannot find answers to locally. I would also recommend Testament of Devotion, by Thomas Kelly.

  7. Very good advice about pedestals. Human nature when discovering something new and seemingly 'perfect' ... and I have to say that reading Mr. Gulley's latest book is a good reality check -- he brings up imperfections and politics in his own faith, for instance. I yearn for honesty, above all else. Better a flawed reality than a perfect illusion.

    It's all in the perspective. And I like what I've seen so far ...


  8. This is truly a wonderful post. I am not where you are as a friend but I can only nod my head and agree with you. One of the things that I find so tantalizing about this path that we are on is that our spirituality is not an immediate arrival at "The Answer" but a continual path of discovery.

  9. I loved this part of your post, "I do not have to be a Christian to know Christ. I do not have to be a Buddhist, to know the Buddha. I do not have to be a Muslim to know Allah. I need to be me, and I need to listen." I have been seeking like you for many years. It’s nice to find spiritual people like you blogging. I enjoyed reading your blog. I’ve been sharing the spiritual tools I’ve learned on my blog. I just wrote a post on my blog called “Getting Unstuck.” It’s about releasing old thought patterns; I’d love your feedback. Blessings, Sherry
    Daily Spiritual Tools