Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Elaina Matthews: Faith Story

This is wonderful! Please pray for Elaina as she deals with those in her former church and transitions out.

My Love for Adventists

It is frustrating year after year when people misunderstand your motives. I can clearly see how they would misunderstand, for I did the same when I was Adventist. They think I hate them or are bitter towards my former church. No such thing is true.

Rather, I see myself as someone who has escaped from a dark cave. I know Adventists will think comparing their faith with a cave is such an insult. I am not attempting to insult them, only tell the story of how I felt within Adventism's doctrine. The people were wonderful, but so much of the doctrine was dark, paranoid, confusing and unbiblical. Think about it. They think they will one day be the focus of a modern Catholic witch hunt and the entire globe will turn and hunt them down because they worship on Sabbath. Their whole world is defensive and irrational, seeing sinister conspiracies in every black helicopter and papal decree. Everyone is a potential enemy, even Christians!

So, I will characterize some SDA doctrine as cave-like in order to be experiential rather than insulting.

For years, I searched this theological scary, dank cave and its dark places with bats and spiders hoping for some light. In my quest, sometimes there was so little light I felt like giving up and remaining within the dark cave. Yet for me, I saw that I was so much closer to the entrance than most, that I had to keep looking. Most of these cave dwellers were farther, in little groups, much deeper in the cave complex than I had been raised.

Many people were hiding in the shadows, afraid. Too afraid and too proud to believe that there was something warmer, healthier, brighter and more wonderful out there towards the light.

Over time, I met up with a few others who were escaping and with their knowledge of things I didn't know and with my own studying of the cave, we finally got out.

Of those who escaped, some just kept going, so glad to be out that they walked on and now are happily dancing merrily in the light of the sun, singing like Maria von Trapp "The hills are alive with the sound of music!" But a few of us, thought about those back in the cave. Maybe some of them would like to know what it is like out here in the sun! Perhaps some would like to quit being scared and proud. There had to be many more like me. So, reluctantly, a few of us went back into the cave.

We knew the cave dwellers and their resistance. While a couple of those who had seen the light came in shouting that the cave dwellers were stupid, deceived and they better get out, I took a passive approach. I knew that many of them liked dwelling in the dark. They felt safe there and might need to watch a few people more go out and come back with good news before they would try and leave what they had always known--what they had grown up in. I was there only to help those like me who wanted light, no matter what.

I held up a sign with the words illuminated, "It's okay to leave the cave. It's good out there! Follow us and we will take you out." We didn't try and force people out, but many who read the sign panicked and tried to convince everyone out there that we were liars and deceivers. They told us that we hated the cave dwellers. That the cave is where God wants them and we are of the devil to say that there is something better outside the cave. They have all they need there, they are safe there. No place other than the cave gives them such sharp sight and white skin.

We showed a few people out and watched their eyes as they saw the green meadows and blue sky and felt the warmth of the sun. We cried as we saw their happiness. Then we thought we would love to show even more how wonderful it is outside. So, with reluctance and bolstering our courage, we went back into the cave. We thought it was the sacrifice God wanted of us--to do for others what we would have loved someone to have done for us.

Some of the cave dwellers, upon seeing us back, smirked and said that if we loved the light so much why would we be hanging around in the cave? We must really think the cave is better.

Some of those who came back to help got so sick of the abuse, they just left with a huge "good riddance." They are now all living with such happiness out in the light.

I know my time to help the cave dwellers is growing short. There are now others who have been in the light who wish to go back and help and I can rest, knowing I did my best. But I can't go quite yet, God says I still have a few trips left.

I wouldn't go back into the cave unless I loved the people I was rescuing. I hate the cave. It smells and I am no longer used to the cold, my eyes have adjusted for the sun and I can't see as well as I used to in there. So going in is hard on me, I do it only because of love.

End of allegory.

What I wish to tell everyone plainly is that my ministry to Adventists is about love.

I have never known an Adventist I didn't like. (There are some I dislike but I have never met them, like SDA abortionists. I am praying for, but I don't hate them.) To a SDA worldview, for me to forcefully disagree with some of the SDA doctrines is tantamount to hating Adventists or being very "disturbed". I have as much hope of disabusing them of that self-deception as of helping them to see the error of their doctrines. I will love them at a distance and hope that one day they will get to walk in the light and see the flowers and mountains and beauty of God, outside their cave of theology.

SDA pride will tell them I dislike them and that makes me so sad because they don't even know that they are fearful and prideful.

It's not about anything but love. I absolutely do love Adventists.