From Doubt to Faith, Part 1
God cut it out. God healed me. Of this I am certain. But what was it? And how did He do it? I am intensely grateful, but curious. How did He do it?
Like Adam, I woke up groggy-eyed and confused a few days ago to stumble onto the computer. I did not suspect anything had happened until I ventured upon the now-viral post entitled “The Last Post” by Derek K. Miller. It is the final memoir of an atheist, who is trying to scrape together all of the dignity, purpose and eternity which his worldview can afford, in order to give his family hope and meaning in the wake of his untimely passing. It’s moving stuff.
…but it didn’t make me mad.
I didn’t even realize this until a few moments later. I read it, I posted it to my facebook, I read it again, I pondered it, I breathed a heavy sigh for Derek and even (although this is nonsensical, since the time for mercy is over, Heb. 9:27, 4:7, etc.) prayed that God would have mercy on his soul. I prayed for his family, that they would find Jesus. Then I spent time pondering my own death, wondering how long I still had and whether I was loving my family and serving God the best I could with the time I had.
But I was not mad. I was not mad.
When God secretly took a rib from Adam, He then presented him with Eve – a living, breathing counterpart “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” When He secretly took something from me, however, I lost a counterpart, a voice, a frame of mind. And I knew suddenly that it was gone, because I was not mad. I felt love, sadness, zeal-to-acition, and melancholy: but no anger.
Here is how it usually works. I hear Dawkins or Hitchens or a talk-show-host who is loudly proclaiming an anti-Christian doctrine and my stomach instantly ties into knots. I feel as though they are personally attacking me. The anger is immediate. The more convinced they are of their beliefs, the more intense my reaction. The more creatively and elaborately they weave their intellectual framework, the deeper sinks the bundle of turmoil within. I will mull for weeks and months over things people have said, and I try desperately to untangle the web of their intellectual fortifications against Christ. In the process, I find myself filling their shoes. I find myself saying, “Okay, if I believed what they did, how would I reason my way back to Christ?” Usually, the path is long and arduous. Sometimes I barely make it back. There is a sort of usefulness to this process, I suppose, because sometimes I am able to catalog my return-home-journey (as, for example, in the posts “Does God have a right to judge?” and “A Discussion on Justice, Hell and the Moral Uprightness of God”) However, what is the result of this? I spend most of my time angry, doubting, speculating, barely able to make my way back to Christ. Although I have already answered all the questions I need to for myself, I go out and wrestle with other people’s questions. As a result I was continually boiling and thinking and working and pondering and doubting.
But not now. Now, the anger is gone.
Perhaps it is because I no longer feel threatened. Derek is wrong. I know that. I feel for him, I pray for him. But he doesn’t threaten me. I still have my old ability of being able to step into his worldview, to think about how I would reason my way to the cross from where he is standing. I realize that the journey is impossible. He is firmly convinced that God does not exist. This is not a reasonable position, it is a faith position. He believes that God does not exist just as firmly and as irrationally as I believe that He does exist. What needs to happen is for God to work a miracle, to prove Himself to be real to Derek (or, hopefully, to the living members of his family). I cannot do this, despite my best intellectual abilities. It is God’s job. But more importantly, I am not feeling unsettled, insecure and, yes, angry. This is the really amazing thing!
As I reflect, I think I am realizing that all this time, my interest in apologetics has actually been a “cover” for my own spiritual insecurities. Outwardly, I preach and post with confidence: inwardly, I doubt. Outwardly I present answers, and triumph over “the questioning skeptic”: inwardly I am the questioning skeptic, and I only barely am able to overcome my logical difficulties, to reason my way back to Christ.
I have been thinking back carefully over my prayer life in these past few weeks, to try to figure out what made the difference?
Just now I have gone back and read through my prayer-journal. I was going to add three journal entries to the end of this post, but, since this post is already getting long, I think I will make a “part two.”
But to conclude, to answer the question: how has God removed this fear, this anger, this turmoil within? He has taught me (really, truly, from the heart) to “fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). I know that Jesus exists. How? I love Him. He speaks to me. I pray to Him, He hears me. He is real. I worship Him. I love Him.
And now, finally, I am beginning to trust Him.
Trust Him that His Word is the right way. Trust Him that He is the only righteous judge of our souls. Trust Him that His plans are best for our family. Just trust Him.
And when I trust, I do not fear. When I do not fear, I can rest. And when I rest, I am not angry.