Sometimes it takes me a while to get to what's actually on my mind. There are things that happen all around me & then there's what's happening inside my head. Of the two I usually prefer what's going on inside my head but putting words to it all is sometimes a little difficult ~ especially if you are me & lurch between extremes.
So I was reading here ~ which is interesting because I would have asked many of the exact same questions yet reached the completely opposite conclusion. I abandoned the liturgical churches as not meeting my need for knowing God & because I will be judged on the amount of knowledge I have ~ not the knowledge the church has! ~ & it is up to me to sort out my relationship with God.
I do not find most of the props in most churches helpful: music, liturgy ~ even the sacraments, & I believe the sacraments are important; all become impediments to knowing God because God is not any of those things though He may indeed be in those things, or use those things. So I must admit it bewilders me when people hide behind liturgy, or ritual, or dogma which reduces God to a formula.
Don't shoot. Just thinking aloud here because it's something I just don't get myself. I don't get it because the one thing I always wanted from God was to know that he was indeed real & the only way that works for me is to come face to face with God; to fall into the hands of the living God ~ & when that happens it shatters whatever preconceived notions one has about who & what God is. God is not who I thought he was; but He is indeed exactly who He says He is. I should have listened better.
I know I work completely differently to most people. Even inside my own house no~one else gets the use or delight of seeking God in silence. I am constantly compromising to accommodate the rest of my house, bewildering them nearly as much as they bewilder me. Ditz is all froth & bubble & noise on the outside but I'm like that on the inside. I make so much internal noise I have lots of trouble being still & hearing God. We have these conversations that go, "Look God, I don't know so you are going to have to be really, really clear ~ as in unmistakably clear~ as in I can't mistake what you want..." And this is how I know God is real because again & again & again He makes his intentions unmistakably clear to someone so thick~headed & internally noisy they can hear little above the froth & bubble of their own noisy self~importance. Believe me, it takes some doing to make yourself heard over all that!
The thing is I would rather run my own risks & risk everything on working out a personal relationship with God than clutch at a format that may be tried & true or dried up & deader than a dodo, too afraid to step out in faith just in case God doesn't catch me. I can't do it. I suffocate within ritual. I can see it's attractions. I can see its beauty. I can't live within the framework.
From one extreme to another. I have also been reading here because Ember has been hitting on a number of issues that have been bugging me for more than 20 years; how does one simplify one's life yet still do all that needs to be done? When does simplicity become more complicated, defeating its prime purpose? [I live on an island; of course I'm going to ask this question!] How am I personally called to live out gospel simplicity because what I am personally called to do may not be at all what you are called to do? Which aspects do I need to consider? What is irrelevant to my state?
And there's the difference. Working out my salvation in fear & trembling, as God Himself leads according to His spirit within me. How He leads me is never going to be exactly the same as He leads you. Never. Remember to thank Him for that. Trust me; you don't want my journey.