The comments on the previous two installments of this wrestling with doubt have helped me. There’s a natural ebb and flow to life and I’m not exempt. Thanks for asking good questions and for drawing me out without offering fixes. That is what I asked for. My friend who comments as “ded” asks…
“Do you doubt God as an entity (your story of being invited on His lap would say you don’t), His goodness (ditto) or what man has determined is the way you must be before Him?”
Ded, the answers depend on when you ask. I am thankful for a strong faith in God. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church where I received a mix of godly teaching and a lot of other stuff that “shouldn’t” be in the mix… but there they are… I have seen God at work in my life and the lives of so many others, and I just cannot walk away from that. God is faithful. At the same time, I have questions and doubts that are very real.
To my fellow Christians who are very bothered and disturbed by this whole line of discussion, I ask you to be patient and stick with me. I have not abandoned the faith. I am trying to be real. If it is too hard for you to read or to follow, don’t try. Everyone is not at the questioning place that I am at, nor should they be. This is my story. Although I have been asking these questions for a long time on the inside, I’m just beginning to feel free enough to ask them on the outside. My desire is not to cause anyone else to stumble.
My questions and my doubts are RAW because that’s how I am feeling them. Sometimes I have no doubts at all. Other times, I doubt the very existence of God. That usually doesn’t last too long because of the experience I have. God has been faithful to me. He has guided me through so many difficult times.
Another whole class of struggles that I feel are due to the polarization caused by the conservative political front in the US. These people seem to equate conservatism with Christianity and that angers me. God is not a Republican. I think that one reason that I feel such strong emotion about the politicization of Christianity is that I used to do it. I used to be so “in your face” about my beliefs. After all, I had all the answers. Now I find that the older I get and the more I learn, the less I know. The Jesus that I read about in the Bible got upset with the religious leaders for politicizing their faith and weighing down the people with burdens they could not bear. However, He was compassionate, full of grace and forgiveness to the “sinners”. What I see in the conservative Christian movement is just the opposite. I see power struggles and condemnation of “sinners”. I have a question to throw back at them. What would Jesus do? Really?
Being this raw, real and honest is not fun… but I believe it is good. I heard N. T. Wright tell an interesting story about this particular species of ant. These ants follow one another unquestioningly and if they are not careful, they have been known to eventually form a huge circle. Now imagine all of these ants following the one in front of them because that one knows where it is going. Eventually they starve to death because of their behavior. I don’t want to follow unquestioningly. I think that God is big enough for my puny little questions. If not, he’s pretty small.