Why I Believe You're Struggling To Believe
I know what you're thinking. An open letter? Really? Aren't we closer than that?
We are, but I thought this might be helpful.
I know you are struggling. You are kept awake at night by that nagging insecurity -
What if all of this is a sham?
What if God really doesn't exist, and when my heart stops beating the lights go out? Finale.
Yes, yes, we know about the Todd Burpo's and the Don Piper's of the world, and honestly we're not ready to say "That isn't real" but we're at the point where the there's enough shaky ground to say "I'm not sure."
I know it isn't just death. That's too common, everybody gets antsy around death and if they say they don't I'd wonder deeply about that person.
It's about the whole boat - a Sovereign creator with a divine plan for all of humanity who both loves and allows, challenges and miraculizes, is knowable but also mysterious - some days it's almost too much to take.
So you fake it. You smile when you want to shout, you give the answer someone wants instead of the question that's burning a tunnel through your spiritual innards, and you present a faithfulness that you are clinging to with everything you have but seems to be slipping through your fingers.
It's hard, I know, because there are people with expectations. There are people who know and trust you, they believe you're solid and reliable and come for advice and direction. Even though you're giving them solid and healthy spiritual guidance, you have to answer in the affirmative some things that has been difficult for you to affirm as of late. Sadly, you may have too deep a spiritual presence to take the time for a great and healthy spiritual crisis. Trust me, I understand.
So here's what I want to tell you.
You're struggling to believe because it's about time.
You're growing out of some older clothes, moving into new clothes.
Remember the whole thing with Jesus about wine and wineskins? Yes, that. The wineskins are constricting and the new stuff needs space to age and mature. The old wine was good, it's ready to drink. The new wine needs space to age.
Which means emptiness. Which means a lack. Which means time.
You're struggling to believe because you need the struggle. It is the adolescent voice-cracking of your soul, figuring out how to be the uniquely alive person God made you to be when everything around you is saying that's "weird" or "awkward" or "you should be past that." Growing pains are just that. Pains. God is a God of growing pains, He doesn't fear your doubt or struggle.
He isn't insulted when you get tripped up trying to understand something that is beyond your limited human understanding. That would be like me being insulted that my once-infant daughter didn't understand the operation of the ignition in a 2004 Chevy Malibu. (Frankly, I'm not sure I understand my own ignition but you get the point.)
God is well aware of your unknowing. If we'd just embrace our unknowing, we'd be invigorated for the struggle. We'd know our unknowing and therefore stop putting so much energy into it and learn more about our untrusting or our uncertainty.
So stay strong. Belief in Jesus is acting as if He's right about everything, but it doesn't always come out of unshakable security. It comes when we know that nothing but Jesus is secure. Nothing but the unfathomable depths of God is worth putting our sweat and blood into.
So struggle on. Journey on. Know that this is the path, walk in it, and shout when necessary:
"I believe, but help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24 my paraphrase)
Grace and peace to you.