I’ve always been a little bit envious of Christians who weren’t born into it. I struggle and doubt and question and wonder and think to myself, “Why, if I have access to the Creator, is life just as confusing and difficult for me as for those who don’t?” But then, I don’t really know that it is, do I? I’ve never known what it’s like to be truly without a hope. To have a void that nags, but not really know how to fill it. I imagine it’s a different kind of struggle. That’s why I get envious: because those people know what it’s like to be both outside and inside the fold. They know darkness and light both. They all tell me to be thankful I didn’t have to experience that, but I think to myself, “At least you know the difference.” When the doubts, fears, struggles come up for them, at least they can face them with the confidence that it’s not as bad as it was, that life is infinitely better with God on their side to guide them through all of it. At least, that’s how I imagine it is.
For me, without that darkness to light, “I was blind but now I see” moment, I’ve relied on logic and rationality to be the foundation for my faith. I’ve always been very confident that the world as I see it couldn’t possibly be just the result of random chance. So every time I have gotten confused or lost or started to question, I’ve gone back there. Do I really think this life is an accident? No. So there must at least be a God. And then we can go from there. Now, taking a real, honest look at that, my foundation is starting to weaken, ever so slightly. My answer is still a resounding “No;” how can you possibly look at this world, at us, and think it’s all an oops? But there are some holes, for sure. Definitely room for a doubt. Now, I think it’s at least as rational to believe in God as it is to be an atheist, but I think it’s an honest position to stand in the middle and say, “I don’t know.” I mean, I think those people should stop being so friggin wishy-washy and pick a side, but…it’s honest. And believing in a God, a Creator, is still a far cry from believing in the Christian God and Christianity as a whole. To come to that conclusion you have to start going to the Bible, and that gets real messy, real quick. Le sigh.
So I’ve been going through all this, and was still there when my family and I took a trip to Scotland recently. (We just got back last night. Hello, jet lag!) Scotland was AMAZING. It has to be one of the prettiest places on earth. Similar to Hawaii in its greenery and mountains, but without the tropical gaudiness about it. Just simple, unpretentious, vivid LIFE. Normally, nature like that always inspires in me a sense of wonder and gratitude that God would place such beauty on the earth for us. But that feeling was absent on this trip, and I even found myself internally rolling my eyes when a family member would say something like, “God is so good!” Alarming. I thought to myself, “I need to get a handle on this STAT.”
So I found myself online googling “skeptical Christians” on my last night in Scotland, after everyone else was asleep. I found a couple of blogs that were soothing, at first, because they expressed so exactly what I was feeling. And they were written by people who are still Christian, still loving God and doing His work. But their lives are doubt-riddled and foggy. They are essentially consciously choosing to have faith, even though they’re very doubtful. It all felt very familiar, but there was a voice nagging at the back of my mind, going, “Something’s off.”
All the various writers that I read talked about basing their lives on the life and teachings of Jesus. Exhibiting his love, care, and kindness for those around him. Following his moral example. In this, they felt sure, they couldn’t go wrong. This was where my brain snagged on the “something wrong.” Because Jesus wasn’t a social activist. He wasn’t just nice to the poor. He didn’t just give the world a new perspective. If the Biblical accounts of him are true at all, he reached out and touched a broken world and commanded it to bend to his authority. And reality bent. That’s what a miracle is. Not only him, but his followers were followed by signs and wonders. Mark 16:20 says that the Lord went with those he sent out in his name and “confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
I realized that getting caught up in the intellectual debates about God can definitely distract from the point. We’re not just supposed to believe in Him intellectually. We’re supposed to, as it says in Ephesians 3, experience His love which is completely beyond understanding. Although God is a concept that is far too big to fully grasp, and although this can leave us in an uncomfortable position of not being able to prove the reasons for our belief intellectually, I don’t believe we’re supposed to walk around with a constant knot in our stomachs, wondering if we’re believing in a fairy tale. I believe that, although the beginning may be a complete leap of faith, acting on something we’re not sure of, God wants to confirm His message and will do so as we take action on our faith. Maybe, just maybe, God wants our walk with Him to be based on a strong relationship and knowing of WHO HE IS through experience, rather than just a belief of THAT HE IS, based on logic. I feel like right now, over the last year really, he’s slowly prying my fingers off of my firm grip on logic, and transferring them to a more solid handhold of relationship with Him. The switch is tricky and no fun; I definitely feel like I’m dangling in space a good bit. But I’m believing that the end result with be a stronger, surer faith.
And so the quest continues. I’m going to continue my intellectual searching and study of apologetics, because I really believe that God wants to use that overly-logical side of me to help people, but I’m going to do it with a grain of salt. And I’m going to simultaneously be looking for open doors to act. To pray for people, to pour into their lives. And we’ll see what happens, I guess. If this God of mine is true (and I think He is), then I believe with my whole heart that He wants to show me. So I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.