How studying God broadens your horizons: A reflection for #digidiciple (@minidvr)

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In September this year, I commenced a course of Licensed Lay Minister Training with Rochester Diocese. Year one is the foundation year, so whatever your previous knowledge or experience, you start at the same point, unless you have credits for prior learning.  I had none, so the foundation modules seem to have been designed for people like me, with quite a low start point.  This seemed to match my position, but Eureka, God equips those he is calling, so instead of struggling, I have managed to thrive on the learning so far.

I can remember a conversation with a Priest when I first came to the Anglican church some seven years ago. He said “Don’t underestimate what you already know” as I was with him, learning the differences from being a Catholic to becoming an Anglican.   I felt that I knew little about the Anglican Church and still less about God, and in many ways, that ignorance was proven and addressed as I came to confirmation. But still that niggling doubt that I was not up to the job of learning enough to be credible (in my own self) as a mature and confident Christian.

In the past seven years, I have worked hard to know more of God, but the more I learned, the wider the gap in my knowledge seemed to be.   I know the bible stories of the New Testament quite well, and the Old Testament not so well, but feel a little inadequate when others more advanced than I, can quote chapter and verse for a given story and more pointedly, make the connections with our current context.   I’m not overawed by their ability, just sad that I don’t seem to have the memory capacity to do the same.   But of course my friend is #Google, and if I type a question in, I normally get a wide spread of answers to match the situation that I’m seeking an answer too.   Then I find that it’s not just me.  Many Clergy and Laity involved in ministry do exactly the same.   While I had pictured them poring over biblical versions, bible dictionaries or commentaries, they were in fact using the tools God has given us through man’s ingenuity to search for him.

But now, in the throes of learning for real, suddenly the study instead of being a chore is opening up God in ways that I haven’t either heard off, thought off or made connections too.  Exploring what we know, feel, hear or see God in our and others lives and then sharing those images with others, demonstrates to me that everyone has a different picture of God, who and what he is, what he has done for them and how his action in the world and their lives has been transformation for them.   I have my own stories, but hearing those of others, just enhances the knowledge and images of God that I hold onto, it changes and develops them, while highlighting his complete unknowability.

Reading the wide variety of literature on the reading list on the modules that I’m studying, just highlights how vast and complex that  theology (talking about God) is, and also, that we are all in our own ways, ‘practical theologians’ in the ways we seek to discern, find, seek or see God and his actions in the world.  Those actions that underpin our hope in him and strengthen and mature our faith, each time we encounter him either in the physical or spiritual realms.  These encounters help to build the confidence and maturity that gives our tenuous, problematic, doubting selves, a firmer footing and foundation in our faith.

Being a disciple isn’t easy, and having lived in a sort of tension of doubt and self-doubt for a number of years, suddenly this course is opening new vistas of God, it’s expanding my horizons in all sorts of ways, that I really couldn’t have imagined or anticipated when I set out on this journey.  Being a disciple isn’t any easier, but it becomes a much more real and tangible thing to be, as you grow and develop in him.

All that I can say, as always, Thanks be to God.

About Ernie Feasey

Anglican, Ex-Officer, trying to discern a vocation to Ordained Ministry