The Rev. Joe Bowden: Roots of faith are found at the beginning

I’ve been playing golf a long time. I would like to report that persistence has resulted in a consistent performance, but alas that is not the case. The quest for consistency has been at times successful, but difficult to maintain. It took me decades to realize that when I started developing inconsistencies in my golf game that a quick fix was not the answer.

 

Oh, I read the tips in numerous golf magazines, and bought many swing devices that now gather dust in a closet somewhere. I pored over YouTube videos and, of course, there was never any shortage of driving range advice from my friends. In desperation I would even break down and take one golf lesson.

My efforts almost always produced the “WOOD phenomenon.” Works Only One Day!

After many years, I finally realized that consistency in golf was a product of understanding, practicing and executing the fundamentals of the golf swing with understanding being the operative word.

My spiritual journey has similarities to my golf game. I have been a Christian a long time, and I would like to report that my spiritual journey has resulted in a consistent relationship with God, but alas that is not the case.

I’ve been mad at God. I have argued with God. I have been indifferent to God. But, sooner or later it becomes perfectly clear to me that life without God, even a God I may be mad at, is no life at all.

Frequently I try a quick fix to get back on my spiritual track. I try prayer – go on a retreat – read books about others who struggle – talk with friends. All of those things are helpful at certain times and circumstances, but what I really needed was something to which I could reset my spiritual compass.

That “something” came to me out of the blue several years ago when I was talking to a Jewish friend about needing to know what God intended for me and, somehow, if I knew His intentions, how did I live it out? My friend told me to “go back to the basics.” He told me to read Genesis, and reread the first two chapters over and over. When I did that I knew I had found my beacon.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth … and he pronounced it good.” God created everything that is, including us, in His image, and surprisingly put creation’s care in our hands.

The Genesis story is magnificently demonstrated in the 13th century creation sculptures in the Chartres cathedral in France. There is a powerful sculpture depicting Adam, emerging as an idea from the side of God’s head. God thought us into being, and it seems that humanity is forever destined to think upon our existence, to imagine and even argue about what it means to be in God’s image.

My spiritual life is more consistent when I “think” of God’s fundamentals in the Genesis story. The basics are simple: Love God with everything we are, and take good care of the little bits of creation He has placed in our hands. Consistency comes with regular practice and execution.

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The Rev. Joe Bowden is the assisting priest at Church of the Good Shepherd.

 

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