Imagine a pastor addressing his congregation in the following manner:
“I used to have all the answers, just opened the Bible and there they were. The truth is, they aren’t all there – or if they are, I can’t find them. I’ve tried to convince you that Christianity is logical and straightforward, as if God can be codified and stuffed into files he can’t jump out of. Each time uncertainty knocked on the door, I hid behind the couch until it went away. Now I’m the one who’s thirsty. And the Jesus I’ve known for twenty years isn’t making it go away.” “And what about our church? I mean, is this all there is?…”
Sound like a death knell from a Pastor’s lips? Well, that’s what happens in Ian Morgan Cron’s first book, “Chasing Francis.”
The Church, not knowing how to respond, suggests Pastor Chase take a leave of absence. He agrees and so sets in motion a pilgrimage, one that chases after the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Though written in the genre of fiction, “Chasing Francis” speaks volumes to all who have experienced a crisis of faith. Chase’s crisis emerged when a young girl from his congregation dies a seemingly senseless death and he feels helpless ministering to the needs of the bereaved mother.
After an extended visit in Italy, walking in the steps of St. Francis, Chase rediscovers the joys of his Christian faith and what it truly means to be Jesus in a world scarred by sin and devastation.
Near the end of the book, Chase shares these words of personal renewal:
“When I left here, I wasn’t sure what a Christian looked like anymore. My idea of what it meant to follow Jesus had run out of gas. I started feeling less like a pastor and more like a salesman of a consumerized Jesus I didn’t believe in. Learning about Francis helped me fall in love with Jesus again – and with the church again, too.”
“Chasing Francis” is a fine book, with great story telling and relatable characters. It’s a must read, especially for those who have found themselves facing their own crisis of faith.