Is there a difference between unshakable faith and unshakable arrogance? I was 15 years in the churches of God and had it all figured out in those first 5 years... so this young kid of 19 in Seminary had nothing to offer me as we talked religion. Jed would only be here for the summer so I had a small window of opportunity to "enlighten" him. He asked many great questions and did a lot of listening. Our lunch hours often went longer than the company would have appreciated.
At summer's end, it was time for Jed to move on in finishing his religious training so that he could start a ministry in the worst part of the city with his new bride. I heard later his apartment was broken into 3 times in the first 2 months he lived there. Oh well, I chalked it up as another dumb decision made in zealous youth. (I told him so!) And all that preaching at Jed was all for naught. Not only did he move his beautiful bride into the hood for "Jesus" but responded to all my pontificating with a set of books as a gift to me, written by an Anglican Priest. The nerve! Those 1500 pages of nonsense sat on my bookshelf for 10 years before I ever even cracked one of them.
But there I was at the Feast of Tabernacles last year getting more spiritual meat from one of those books than all the Feast sermons and sermonettes in the last 10 years!
Hitting "mid-life" is erroneously labeled a crisis. For most, it is actually a time of evaluating your first 20+ years as an adult. Then, after evaluating, we begin formulating the direction of our next 20+ years. If we are being honest with ourselves, we even evaluate our sacred cows and allow those to be challenged genuinely for the first time in years. (Maybe this is why this time of life is called a crisis)
For me, it was a humbling awakening. I was so busy working hard, providing for my wife and our growing family, that I didn't have time to question my "unshakable faith." That part of my life was on solid ground so I had no need to revisit it periodically, nor the time. That was settled in my early 20's when I knew everything.
The miracle of children is their ability to ask questions that cut deep through all the bullshit and force us as parents to carefully consider our answers. When it was Jed, it had no effect. I was unshakable. But now it was my own teenage flesh and blood. Dad was being forced to put his religion on the examination table also. The nagging questions about "church" that were suppressed for years were now being forced into the light of reason. Maybe I should thoroughly give this another look for the sake of not being labeled a hypocrite or a religious minion in the eyes of my own babies.
Mid-life showed me (and others may attest to this as well) that we spend much of our lives on "auto-pilot." Striving for the "American Dream" is a real thing and for the most part, a soul-stealing endeavor. This time of life is bitter-sweet. We can be deeply saddened by coming into the realization that we really know very little about anything. We can anguish (but hopefully for only a little while) over bad decisions; forks in the road of our lives where we went left instead of right or ducked when we should have jumped.
But on the other end of this examination, we can choose to rejoice in a recovered zeal for the next 20-year journey. We can be excited about lessons learned and make the course corrections now. We can be content in not knowing everything and instead, move forward with our minds more open and teachable than ever before. I suppose this is the hidden lesson God had in store for us when he gave us our own children to raise. Yes, as parents, we owe it to our children to be critical thinkers but we really owe it to ourselves first.
Probably, the most depressing and disappointing article I have ever read in the churches of God to date is Gerald Weston's, "I Was Wrong." The title was nothing but misleading click-bait full of arrogant apologetics for the ministry. Many people in LCG were hopeful that after the death of RCM, the church would begin to listen and grow and change for the first time in 25 years. Instead, GEW has chosen to double down like Rehoboam, making his pinky thicker than the waist of our Golden Glove champion.
NEWSFLASH: You are not going to win the hearts and minds of our children when you dwell on legalized marijuana and our daughter's shorts as being the biggest problems in the churches of God today.
Older people spend a lot of time criticizing and putting down the younger generations that will inevitably replace them. The churches complain that kids today are less this and more that. One thing is sure: whatever the churches are doing to reach the next generation, it's failing. The death to birth rate in the churches of God is 4/1. The teenagers are not sticking around, once they leave home. New people are not flocking (not even trickling!) into the churches of God. Is it because the world and our children are more evil and less receptive to God and His way of life? Or could it be that the organizations are refusing to open themselves up to their own mid-life examinations, admit to bad decisions, make course corrections and save themselves from being what the children see: religious hypocrites and mindless minions betrothed to a gnostic theology developed by a narcissist of below-average intelligence almost 100 years ago?