Tag Archives: confessional

Some Thoughts on Silence and the First Commandment

Despite my promise almost a year ago to blog more, I clearly haven’t done that. I have a lot of thoughts – more questions than answers, more re-examining ideas than firm convictions these days. I have been asking the question “why do I believe that?” and seeking the answers in the scriptures and the writings of old dead men who knew far more than I do. In all of this, I have maintained an ambivalence to documenting even the common elements of my life, without really knowing why I couldn’t put fingers to keys.

Recently, however, I have found some clarification in the Westminster Larger Catechism. Like the Shorter, the Larger Catechism studies the Ten Commandments in depth, as a guide for holy living. In question 105 What sins are forbidden in the First commandment, I was struck by two points in a litany of ways in which we place other gods before our True God. The answer includes: “using unlawful means, and trusting in lawful means;” and “ . . . corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal;“.

I have been guilty of corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal in my life. I once described myself on this very blog as having a theology of mustard. I wasn’t really exaggerating. There have been a lot of things in my life that weren’t necessarily idols, until I began to pursue them with the zeal for which I should pursue the things of God. I have approached everything from mustard and coffee to literature and politics with corrupt, blind, indiscreet zeal, while too often approaching my Creator with lukewarm indifference. That corrupted zeal was also applied, far too often, to blogging and writing. That corrupted zeal would be the definition of false worship was convicting in a particular way, because the reason I had originally been reading the Larger catechism was not to learn more about how I could serve my God. Instead, I had turned to it in a corrupted zeal to prove someone else wrong. My heart was reflected back to me, even as it steeped in violation of the law of God.

Within that realization, however, came another. The things that define my life at the moment – being a homeschooling pastor’s wife – are the subject of much blind and indiscreet zeal themselves, and the subject of much “trusting in lawful means.” I am silent on those points, both in person and online, largely because I don’t want two issues of circumstance to define who I am. I am casting about for a larger definition of myself, and coming up with things that don’t fit so neatly into a blog post. I am weary of corrupted zeal both in myself and in the cyber culture of  blogs and bloggers, and that weariness has led to silence.

I have decided to spend some more time with the Larger catechism, seeking truth, not vindication. In the mean time I am dwelling on Ecclesiastes 5:2

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”


Snowshoes, Trail Blazing, and Being Confessional

confessional Well, it has been a snowy winter here in our newly adopted New Brunswick, and to help us enjoy it, my father brought us two pairs of snowshoes. Whenever there is a fresh fall of snow, Jonathan and I strap on the snowshoes and break a new sledding run for the children on the hill out back. We walk up and down the hill, slightly overlapping our tracks and pack down a run for the children.

The last time we embarked on this endeavor, I decided that I wanted to wander through the virgin snow on my own and try to photograph the trees on the border of the property we are renting. I set out across “country” on my snowshoes by myself and became aware immediately that this was a completely different adventure than walking side by side with my husband. With every step I sank down an inch or so and the snow would cover the frame and webbing of the snowshoes and my boot, causing a strange loping dance of step, lift, shake, step, lift, shake. I became so engrossed in just keeping track of my artificially elongated feet in the snow that I ended up no where near the sheltered curve of the meadow that had looked so picturesque from a distance. Instead, after what felt like a mile or so, I raised my head and found myself half way across and completely surrounded by, the sheet of snow that had looked like such a simple stroll ten minutes before.

Interestingly, as I stood there, trying to decide if I wanted to press on, or retrace my steps (the far easier route) back to my happily sledding children, it occurred to me that this difficulty in breaking my own trail across the snow was a picture of why Jonathan and I adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith as a part of the expression and direction of our Christianity.

106I spent a lot of years believing that my Christian faith was about blazing my own personal trail through sometimes deep theological terrain. It created a strange Christian walk that was a lot of losing my way and asking the wrong questions and shaking that off and getting “back on track.” Sometimes I got so distracted by the depth of the theology I lost track of where I was headed.

At some point in the last ten years, I began to appreciate that these trails had already been blazed for me. Now all metaphors break down, and this one will too, but let me use it for a moment, if you will. If the questions of Christian truth are like a snowy landscape, then men and women of the faith have been walking that landscape for two thousand years, asking the same questions and seeking the same answers. Throughout history, the Church has blazed those deep trails together using scripture as their guide and asked the important questions that always begin with truth and move to action. That trail of orthodoxy has been trod down well for us, step by step, over the millenia. We are confessional not because we are enamored of a particular moment in British history. Instead we see the confession as the ongoing tracks over a well blazed trail. It is the way we can keep our eyes up, and fixed on the Author and Perfecter instead of getting our feet tangled in questions that have already been asked, and answered. Why break a new trail when a good, solid road is laid out before us?

I walked back to the children after snapping a few pictures, and eventually they were cold, and tired, and wanted to head back inside. Jonathan had gone in before us (the duty of study outweighing the laughter of snow play) and I trod my snowshoes in his tracks and encouraged the children to follow behind me, thanking the Lord for well worn trails.