Faith Doesn’t Fit

by | Aug 27, 2013 | Uncategorized


H and I drag the steely rods of our beach chairs further back, next to the dunes, while holding on to our separate piles of books and shoes with earphones dangling over our chests. High tide and angry waves threaten to soak our hallowed spot. I’ve given up on walking the small, dry strip of beach and chosen to sit instead. It’s become our Sunday morning ritual. While the kids sleep in, we Sabbath on the beach while the sun casts her early morning, vibrant sheen like metallic cellophane floating on water.

Pushing my emerald toes into damp sand, I’m mesmerized by the zigzag of a lone surfer in the center of the wide expanse of churning sea. His tanned upper torso bobs and balances then floats horizontal. Patient, he waits for the perfect stretch of sea to stand upon.

Mostly, I’m learning what it looks like to abandon yourself to passion and feel God’s pleasure in it.

“I took the most glorious walk on the beach this morning,” a friend said later, over glasses of red and chunks of crusty bread. “The waves were so vicious, stretching high and curling, God’s presence was magnificent.”

Her husband asked how she managed to walk on the beach when the sea was so ungenerous. Throwing her head back she laughed, stretched her arms wide like the horizontal posts on the Cross and said, “I got soaked and loved every minute of it.”

I sit in church, watch tiny arms outstretched toward the fathers who are not their own. Mothers wrangling herds of small heads while waiting their turn to eat round pieces of hard bread and drink from a tipped cup while giggling.

Sometimes alongside the inspired words of the Book, God illustrates Hope in the lives that actually live it. A reminder that freedom of expression encourages growth and legalism suffocates it. Because He makes us all so different.

The revelation of God to any man is not God coming from a distance once upon a time to pay a brief momentous visit to man’s soul. There is no idea of physical distance involved in the concept. It is not a matter of miles but experience. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts. ~A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

There is more than one way to experience Jesus, don’t limit Him to a holy room where dancing is only allowed in the back.

Faith that depends on fitting in doesn’t know how to belong. 


Linking with LauraJen, Emily and Jennifer.


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  1. Kris Camealy

    This speaks so loudly to my heart right now. “Faith that depends on fitting in doesn’t know how to belong”…. yes. I want the crazy faith that embraces Christ everywhere, even when I may be called undignified by my embrace. To attend a church where dancing is “allowed” at all in the service would be gold to me in this season. Thank you for this, Shelly. it inspires me.

    • Shelly Miller

      I sort of miss it, the dancing I mean. I’m completely smitten with God’s presence revealed in the every day, ruined for ordinary and routine. I love where God is taking you Kris, and the way you are eager to listen and learn. Such a gift my friend.

      • Kris Camealy

        I love the way He is revealing Himself to you–and the words He gives you to share the journey. And I love where He’s taking me too. I am captivated by Him. May it ALWAYS be so…

  2. bluecottonmemory

    “Faith that depends on fitting in doesn’t know how to belong” – I love that – because we don’t have to fit in with God – He saves us a chair at the table – designed us perfect for the life and times we live:) I just want to turn that phrase over and over – love it!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, I can’t stop thinking about it either. When we try to fit in, it feels empty . . . because it requires us to change who we are when we already belong.

  3. cheryl

    Conformity…the enemy of the authentic.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, you got that right. I aspire to be a non-conformist.

  4. pastordt

    Oooooh, I love this one, Shelly. Sort of moody, in a strange sort of way, yet telling such necessary and important truth. Really fine. Thank you. (And the pictures are to die for.)

    • Shelly Miller

      I almost didn’t post it Diana, and I think you heard my mood in it. I kinda love that, a lot. Thanks for being my friend.

  5. Tara_pohlkottepress

    yes. this wild abandon to allow faith and life to come at us as it may, our heads tilted back, dripping water as we laugh and love. wonderful picture you leave me with here. one i want to run after and hold onto.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh Tara, your words are always a gift. Love the way you see life up close and intimate. Thankful for you, truly.

  6. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    I loved that book of Tozer and learned so much from Him! I think God is nearer to our DNA structures than we are ourselves!
    Blessings XX

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Mia, he’s one of my favs for sure.

  7. DeanneMoore

    I will never fit in but I will always belong. This one brought me tears this morning. So thankful you, what God is teaching you, and the powerful way that you let us in on it. So very blessed to call you friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thinking about you this morning with a thankful heart. I read your post first thing this morning, I’ll get there soon to leave a comment.

      • DeanneMoore

        Thanks friend. I dropped a little something in your inbox.

  8. Elizabeth

    Shelly, my soul bends toward this Truth as a trumpet vine toward sun. I only wish in some parts of me I had allowed myself to grow and seek this more. But oh how beautiful and holy is the view. Thanks for speaking fir me and to me.

    • Shelly Miller

      Conformity is sneaky and sometimes not apparent when it’s known as a way of life. But God . . .he is faithful to push himself intimately into those places that reveal him differently than we’ve ever known. Knowing God is not a destination, it’s a opening a gift and finding something new every day. I think you know that Elizabeth, your heart is open to it, and that’s the very best thing.

  9. jillie

    Oh Shelly….This is beautiful. And your readers’ comments only add to it. Thank you for sending Christ’s blessing my way today–His blessing to be just who I am. His blessing of “free expression” of worship. I’ve tried to do it the other way–conformity–but that only spells the end of authenticity for me. And I still never felt like I fit in, despite my efforts to do so.Then one day I woke up to it, and realized my mistake. He is leading me to freedom.
    Oh, how I’d love to walk the shores of your ocean with you, with abandon. Into the Holy Wild!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think we should believe for that walk Jillie. I do. Dream with me? Let’s say we’ll do it.

  10. Nancy Ruegg

    I love the word picture you gave us of your church, where fathers embrace little ones not their own, and where children may giggle with pleasure in the presence of their Heavenly Father. What a glorious atmosphere for growing in God–with freedom of expression!

    Reverence does not mean rigidity.

    Thank you for another thought-provoking post, Shelley!

    • Shelly Miller

      I sometimes am more inspired by what I watch in the pews than what I hear from the pulpit. But don’t tell anyone. *wink*

  11. Jen Ferguson

    I’ve just been thinking today, Shelly, how I do so much because it seems “required,” but I am wondering if I do it, really, because I’m afraid of not fitting in. And maybe, just maybe, to shirk the “required” means to depend more fully on Jesus and less on man.

    • Shelly Miller

      Wow, that is quite a revelation Jen. Thanks for sharing that. It speaks to me too.

  12. Laura Boggess

    Oh, how you are making me long for the sea! Such a beautiful picture of how God busts out of our frames.

    • Shelly Miller

      You can visit any time!

  13. Karrilee Aggett

    So much Freedom… and it’s for freedom that Christ has set free! Love this!

  14. Ashley Tolins Larkin

    Yes! “Freedom of expression encourages growth.” For too long, I’ve been walking through a dense forest, where it feels there is an unknowable right way, a path I’m trying to find. And while I’m searching, there is a part of me that is kicking at the branches and screaming at the top of my lungs, “It’s about Jesus! It’s about love! There is no right way!” Your expressions of freedom and joy were a balm to my heart tonight, Shelly. Thank you!

    • Shelly Miller

      I can relate Ashley. It’s the creative, non-conformist whose passion is make people think differently about life that makes me crazy when it comes to a lack of expression in worship. Thanks for being here.

  15. Jen

    I truly appreciate those last few lines. Yes, there is more than one way to experience Jesus. Some of my favorite moments with Him have been experienced in connection with His creation. And some of them have taken place right here in my own home. I’m stopping by from Tell His Story. 🙂

  16. dukeslee

    Shimmering beauty here, like that cellophane sun on sea.

  17. Nannette Elkins

    Beautiful post…I am so thankful I am uninhibited in my worship whether I am in my church or in my home or if I want to walk through the woods! I can’t wait to get to church and throw my hands in the air, my head back and tears stream down my face as I worship the One who gave His life for me! When my SI joint allows me I even jump up and down a little, the praise and worship music is so good and wonderful!! We clap our hands and worship with free abandon! Why not?! If we go to ballgames and give everything we got isn’t the Lord of Glory more worthy than that? And I’m sorry, I just can’t sit still! 🙂 David danced before the Lord! He didn’t care what Michal thought either, lol. And I always think of it this way, when we get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be….I’m just warming up! Blessings!

    • Shelly Miller

      Nanette, I love the exuberance and joy in your comment. Makes me want to dance. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some of your love of Jesus right here.

  18. Michelle DeRusha

    This is beautiful, Shelly. Love that image of your friend, soaking wet with her arms spread wide in praise.

    • shelly

      Thanks Michelle, she inspired me too.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, I was sort of in awe when I sat there and watched her express it. Thanks for visiting Michelle.

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