Am I without a doubt? Not quite, yet. But, my doubts are not quite as strong as they were.
It is really odd for me to pray and not be entirely sure that there’s someone on the other end of the line. I have been encouraged to hear from many folks who struggle with doubt. It seems to come with the territory of maturing in the faith.
Two things have been rattling around in my mind the last week.
First, I keep coming back to Jesus Christ. What set me off in church last week (Doubting Less)? It was singing hymns about Jesus, his death for me, his majesty, his beauty, his love.
It is very hard for me to buy into the unbeliever’s view (if the unbeliever even thinks about these things) that the Bible’s version of Jesus’ life and words is totally fabricated. It seems like history would have more evidence if this were the case. Instead, we hear of disciples and followers dying for their belief in Him.
And if the Bible accurately records Jesus’ words, then He was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord.
And considering the amazing positive impact Jesus had on history: Lord is more like it. No matter how Christianity is slammed (and often with good reason), people have a hard time criticizing Jesus Himself.
So, one thing I keep thinking about is Jesus. I realize how little I know Him, how distant He is in some ways. And I sense a yearning (returning now, and deeper) to know Him more.
I’ve been having an email conversation with an athiest about these matters. He points up all the atrocities Christians have committed and the fact that when those kids called Elijah “you old bald head,” a bunch of bears came and ate them up (2 Kings 2:22-24). What kind of God does such things?
Well, I am realizing that if Jesus is the “image of the invisible God,” then His life is the lens through which we must see all of Scripture – and the lens through which we must see our faith (when, instead, we often judge it by the lives of other Christians).
We see Jesus as compassionate, yet challenging, kind, yet convicting, the sharer of our yokes, yet the revealer of our sins. He told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23), and wept over Jerusalem (“Oh, Jerusalem, oh, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings… Matthew 23:37).
If God (who we now see through Jesus) kills a bunch of kids because they taunted Elijah, it’s not a cartoon (which it has always seemed to me, like on Roadrunner where no one REALLY dies), but a horrific event. Because we know from the cross that Jesus is fully loving and fully just, one who would suffer for us, we know that God must have had a really good reason to kill those kids. We just don’t know the details. And, of course, we know because of Jesus’ resurrection, that death isn’t the end of the story for the kids, either.
Then there’s the way that a mention of His death touches me so deeply I tear up.
That’s the second thing I think about: those darned feelings and experiences. I’ve talked to my husband alot about how we Christians JUST KNOW this is true, how we KNOW He is God, died for us, and rose again. The experiences and feelings I referred to in my first post on doubting (Doubting at Last) must be something more.
They must be the touch of God.
Virtually anyone I have ever known who has a real relationship with Jesus knows what I am talking about: that sense of His presence, His conviction, His leading. Yes, it’s experienced as a feeling (and I am still uneasy about that: it seems so subjective and of course we all know folks who confuse their own impulses and desires with God’s leading).
But we KNOW it’s something more. Which, of course, is why I believe in God’s electing choice of believers. Something amazing comes from outside of us that compels us to believe. We are SURE that conviction, that feeling, is from God.
Well, despite my reticence to rely on these “feelings,” I keep coming back to the person of Jesus.
I emailed a friend of mine who has been through many, many trials. I asked if she had ever doubted during the difficulties. She said no, but she felt she sometimes lacked the intimacy, the comfort, that was available from Jesus. She told me a friend of hers “suggested I quit praying ‘God, I can’t find you, help me find you’ and start praying ‘God, please come and find me. I’m your lost sheep and it’s your job to come get me.’
I’ve started praying that. I hope He hears.
Ok. I know He hears.
Come, Lord Jesus, find your sheep and bring me closer than I have ever been. Amen.