Leaping into the Abyss of Absurdity (also known as Faith)

Leaping into the Abyss of Absurdity (also known as Faith) March 10, 2014

Kai leaping off the rocks at Waimea Beach–same place I love to watch 40 foot waves during the winter.

During freshman “Intro to Philosophy” I learned that Kierkegaard described faith as a leap into the abyss of absurdity.  Yes!  That’s what it feels like, I thought to myself.  Ever since choosing to follow Jesus at age 3 because I heard believing in him meant I’d never have to die and that sounded like a good deal to me, I had struggled between  deeply hoping God actually existed and science with its rational worldview.

I experienced many “atheistic” moments where an invisible yet omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God made no sense.  But then I’d look at a Honolulu sky ablaze with stars, or 40 foot waves on Oahu’s North shore, and feel dwarfed by Beauty in a way that can only be described as worship.

Trusting in God, and more specifically Jesus, has always felt like a leap to me.  No matter all the great arguments pointing to the existence and presence of God (of which there are many), there’s always that leap aspect of faith—always that step into thin air which might turn out to be just that—thin air.

And yet I continue to press on because I’ve never found anything else that brings such good news.  Good news that not only are we not alone, that our lives, our days, our suffering and even deaths can be imbued with meaning and purpose, but that the problem all world religions recognize—an unbridgeable chasm between humans and the divine—doesn’t have to be solved by good behavior, good theology, good sacrifices.  The good news that the Creator of the universe not only cares but loves us to the point of solving that problem through sacrificing God’s self through Jesus.

When my uncle, a 10 year old Chinese son of a diplomat, was plopped into an Australian boarding school, he and his brothers were brought before the Episcopal chaplain to be taught the gospel.  In contrast to what my grandfather taught—that the most important thing in the world was to amass power and play politics—he heard about an upside down Kingdom where the weak became strong, the poor became rich, power is shown through forgiveness and turning the other cheek, and the greatest act of the King lay in giving up his life for those he loved.  My uncle thought it was the best news he’d ever heard.

Me too, and so I lean into experiencing a living God.  Call me crazy, but I choose to believe it all—that miracles still happen, that God still speaks, that chains of oppression will break, the blind will see, the poor will rejoice and that someday the lion will lay down with the lamb.  If you’re going to leap into the abyss–might as well leap into all of it.

We’ve just entered the season of Lent—40 days of preparation for Holy week and Easter.  My church, a hip seeker-sensitive congregation that hopes to woo secular America to Jesus, holds a Leap of Faith every year during the Lenten period.  We ask ourselves:

  1. What do I want Jesus to do for me?  Then what do I really want Jesus to do for me? (Amazing how the answer to this 2nd question may be different from the first)
  2. What do I want Jesus to do for my 6?  (6 people I’d like God to bless)
  3. What do I want Jesus to do for my city/church?

Although the traditionalist in me grumbles that we can’t call this season by its historical name, I love that we’ve re-contextualized this time as a faith experiment.  Whether we believe God exists or not, we daily ask God to show up and then wait and see.  After all, that’s the whole point of Jesus—God showing up.

What do I want Jesus to do for me?  I want Jesus to erase my growing ministry deficit—which will be quite miraculous because I’m also hoping to go on sabbatical April 1st and fundraising and sabbatical are 2 words that don’t go together.  I also have something I REALLY want Jesus to do for me, but that’s going to stay secret for now.

If you’re someone who might like to give this faith experiment a try, here’s a video explaining it:

My church also offers a daily Bible guide in Isaiah that’s pretty awesome.  We’re invited to do all this in community, and to fast as well.   I’m fasting from shopping for clothing.  I also have a SECRET fast that I won’t reveal until after Easter.

Finally, I have a booklet to give away on Lent Let us Keep the Feast:  Living the Church Year at Home, Epiphany & Lent.  (I was supposed to do the give-away during Epiphany but have been swallowed as I prepare to go on sabbatical).  This little book has helpful tips with Lenten practices, history and creative ideas with your kids.  Comment on this blog and I’ll randomly choose someone!

As I leap, I invite you to leap also.  It may be into the abyss of absurdity, but hey, if God actually showed up—wouldn’t that be awesome?

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