This post is part of a series on spirituality and coming out. You can read the rest here.
Back in high school, I went on a missions trip to Mexico with my youth group. During one of our lunches, we listened to a missionary explain the importance of evangelism to us while we sat on metal folding chairs eating white bread lunch meat sandwiches.
I remember sitting there listening when a question suddenly lodged itself in my brain, a question that seemed valid and intelligent and that I couldn't seem to answer for myself. So afterward, when I saw a few students gathering around the missionary to talk, I went up too. As soon as there was space in the conversation I asked, "What about the people who live far out in small villages and never hear the name Jesus in their entire lives? What will happen to them?"
That man looked me right in the eye and said that the Bible says even the rocks will cry out, so there is no excuse for not believing. He spoke as if he knew the answer before I had even finished the question and suddenly I felt stupid for asking it.
I pretended to be satisfied with his response, but I wasn't. Thirteen years later, I'm still not.
What religion is this that allows for hell in this world and hell in the next for human beings who are abused or starving or lonely or enslaved and simply were not born into the proper theological upbringing? What religion is this that determines any human beings' eternal destiny based on their ability to suspend their disbelief of a God who cannot be seen or touched? What religion is this that satisfies our darkest, most legitimate questions with pat answers dependent on the audibility of hypothetical rocks?
These days, there is almost nothing I can say I know about the infinite Mystery I sometimes call God. Many days, I don't feel sure that such a thing even exists. But in spite of myself, I have this secret, scandalous hope that God is real and capable of redeeming everything and everyone, to the very last God-foresaken soul, and that, in the end, She* will.
I'll be the first to admit I have very little faith in anything at all, but I have loads and loads of wild hope in the shocking, reckless, unending grace of a God who holds this beautiful broken universe of ours together with Her love. I have been ashamed of this precious hope and called it sacrilege, even in my own heart. But I will no longer pretend not to believe in a God of limitless redemption. The truth is, on the days when I believe at all, I believe in a God of second, and third, and millionth chances, who will never turn Her back and who stands with open arms for all of time, all the way into eternity. This is the God who has met me in the darkness of my deepest doubts, and She's the only One I can believe in.
P.S. I shared a few words about coming out yesterday on the Story Sessions blog.
*I use the feminine pronoun not to scandalize, but because the imagery it invokes has gotten me closer to wrapping my head around a loving God than any other.