"Why does the fact that faith is hard to accept logically become the end of the argument rather than the beginning of something different? In fact, maybe the more we let go of our secure grip on what makes sense, the more vibrant our faith will become."
- John Wilkinson in No Argument For God....Going Beyond Reason In Conversations About Faith.
The verses in Isaiah that I found began to speak hope to me. Even though I still hadn't found all the answers to the questions raised by doubt, I took hope that God wanted to be found, to be understood. He didn't want me to remain in a place of darkness.
I longed for glimpses of God to fuel and strengthen my faith. They came to me slowly, sometimes barely perceivable.
Bits of faith came in the form of...
A bird I noticed out the window while I was washing dishes causing me to ponder the wide variety we see...not only in birds but in all the earth, all the animals, all the plants.
The sweet-tartness of a juicy pear. The many flavors, colors, smells that come to us in so many forms. If evolution were true, why would we need such variety?
Evolution tries to say that all we see came from one living cell that somehow emerged out of nothing, out of a void containing no life . And, that cell supposedly became all that we see today through millions of years of change and adaptation. How is this theory, this story any less ridiculous than what atheists claim our story of Creation to be?
I still felt like I was taking a step forward and several steps backward on various occassions. Like a fighter struggling to rise to his feet, my opponent kept knocking me back before I could gain my footing.
Too often to count, I'd be at church engaged in worship, feeling the presence of God when a single niggling doubt would creep in and whisper, "What if all this is made up? What if it isn't true? Do you know how ridiculous you all look?". I would try to squelch the thought before it could fully enter my head, but the damage was already done. My spirit of worship was replaced once again with a spirit of doubt.
Other crazy thoughts continued to assail me. Things like, "If God isn't real, I'd never even know I was wrong to believe in Him. There would be no 'after death' moment of realization. One moment I'd be here and conscious and the next I'd be gone with no consciousness that I had even left...there'd be no consciousness at all."
Doubt tries to latch on to faith with jaws that will not come loose, shaking and shaking that faith until it goes limp.
"God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it."
Even though my faith still floundered, God was faithful. He continued to speak in that still, small voice. And I started to see Him again.
My children. This love I have for them. It's illogical. It's beyond reason. It is more than a chemical reaction.
The many emotions I feel. The way my heart is stirred by certain music. The way my soul rises up at the beauty of a perfect Fall sunrise. This is all beyond reason.
One night after the children were all tucked in bed and sound asleep I was downstairs in the bathroom getting myself ready for bed. One of my children cried out in terror in their sleep calling for me, 'Mom? Mom? Mommy!' I wanted to run to my child, but I wasn't able to immediately run out the bathroom door. And in that moment, God spoke to me 'Just as your whole being longs to run to your son, my whole being longs to run to you when you cry out my Name terrified that you are alone in the dark.'
Revelation doesn't always come all at once. Sometimes revelation comes slowly, our faith reawakening as even the small and mundane show themselves to be part of a more intricate plan.
Did I have all the answers to the questions I had been asking? No. Sometimes the questions don't have easy answers. Some remain a mystery. Still there is benefit in asking those questions. It causes us to seek Him, to press in closer to the mystery.
Doubt does not let go easily. This is still a journey I am on. I do believe that I've been under spiritual attack. But, I've wondered 'Why now? Why at the age of 40...well into my spiritual life?'. It occurred to me, that now that I have four young boys that we are raising to become strong men of God, the enemy has a good reason to try to take out the faith of the mother.
What I have taken so far from this whole experience and battle with doubt is this...
- This is a journey no one can take for you. You can read all the apologetics, articles, books that you can find. And they are good resources. But, in the end this is a heart issue between you and God. And, only His Spirit can provide the revelation you seek.
- Doubt will not let go if you try to ignore it. Push back. Face it head on.
-You are not alone. You are not the only Christian who has dealt with crippling doubt. We don't like to talk about it. We keep our spiritual Sunday best in place when talking with other Christians. One of the most healing moments for me came when one Sunday our pastor, who was speaking about putting on our spiritual armor and the shield of faith, said that the spirit of atheism and doubt wants very much to shoot blazing arrows at us that will not just wound, but burn and consume. Then he asked how many people had ever asked themselves if 'this whole God thing was just baloney'. Almost every single hand in the congregation went up. Even my father in law who was visiting with us that Sunday at church and who I consider a strong, spiritual man raised his hand. It truly helps to realize you are not the only one.
- God is above reason.
Faith is...." 'not of the senses', something that exceeds the grasp of human sense organs and the reason that is fashioned from them. Simply put, sense and reason are only one slim pathway of what can be known. Just because faith doesn't reside completely in this pathway doesn't make it a fairy tale." - John Wilkinson in No Argument for God
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." This is the Lord's declaration.
"For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8,9
-You may not be able to convince your atheist friends and family. Chances are good you won't. Only the Holy Spirit can bring revelation to a heart and a mind that is closed. Pray, pray, pray that God reveal Himself to them.
- Explore Who God is. One of the things I started doing when I was questioning the character of God (see my questions from yesterday's post regarding the OT God) is to start looking for every single verse in the Bible that contains the Lord's name and to copy that verse into a notebook....starting from Genesis and working my way on. I'll admit I didn't get too far, but this is an exercise I want to continue. Because I believe God wants to be known as fully as possible by us.
Finally, these are 2 of my favorite quotes of all time. They resonate with me and encourage me to continue my journey of faith....