THE RIGHT TOOLS TO MEET A CHALLENGE
I was really struggling with a task Tuesday night.
Our confirmation students are creating a panel of a banner that will be displayed in worship on the Sundays of their confirmation (among other things). My last task in putting together their banner kits was to cut the 18” x 18” panel for their names and the designs they create. I had the fabric at home. It just needed to be cut.
I gathered my supplies to cut the panels: a cutting mat, a rotary cutter, and a ruler. I cannot find my 24” ruler that I use for tasks like this. All I had was my 12 ½” square ruler, and it wasn’t what I wanted to use. I had in my head how I was going to cut the fabric, but without the right supplies, I was stuck. My mind would not let me think beyond what I was used to using to accomplish the task before me.
I struggled to cut three of the six squares before my brain finally realized I had what I needed, if I just thought differently about how to accomplish the task. I folded the fabric so that I could lay a 12 ½” ruler on top of it and make a clean cut. Voilà! It worked. The last three squares were cut in less than half of the time it took to cut the first three.
Sometimes our faith works like that, too. We have been taught certain things about how God works in the world. But then we come up against a challenge in our lives, and the tools of faith we have been given don’t seem to help us through it. We struggle. We struggle until we can look at the challenge and the tools before us in a different way.
The Confirmation Youth have been working to understand how to employ John Wesley’s quadrilateral in their faith life. This is a system of faith development that says that when we come up against a question of faith, a challenge to our lives, or a difficult season, we can employ the words and intent of scripture, the traditions of our faith, our ability to reason and our experience of God to work our way through.
We did not teach the youth what to believe. Instead, we taught them how to discover what they believe about how God is in the world. It is my deep prayer that they will not stand in front of a challenge and struggle because of things they have been taught about faith. Instead, I pray that when questions and challenges present themselves, these youths will stand before them with the tools of scripture, tradition, reason and experience to discover anew what they believe about God and God’s world. And I pray that this belief will help them act with conviction.
How about you? Are you struggling with a current question of faith? How might you employ scripture, tradition, reason and experience to discern your way to an answer? May these tools, and the wrestling, lead you to a belief that is acted upon with conviction.
Pastor Becky Jo