Monday, November 5, 2012
I'm a skeptic.
I suppose it's only natural, having been raised by a faithful Christian woman on one hand and an intellectual question-everything father on the other. Somehow, I ended up a Christian, married to a minister, absolutely in love with Jesus and also completely skeptical, constantly questioning the Bible, the Church, other believers, and so on and so forth.
This can be beneficial to my faith, believe it or not. It means I am always looking for the answers and, to me, following Jesus is meant to be a journey full of questions. When someone stops questioning the authority of their religion, I feel fearful of and for them. I don't mean that I expect everyone to be tearing each other down and putting intellect above faith. Not at all. The Bible tells us to seek him with all our hearts and we will find him. How can I find him, then, if I am not constantly seeking his face?
There are aspects of my faith that grow and change, thanks to my persistent searching. The Christian I was ten years ago seems, to 30-year-old me, ignorant and cold-hearted. Was I ignorant and cold-hearted? Yes and no. I'm genuinely embarrassed to tell you some of the thoughts I had... things I felt were part of my faith in Jesus that I now believe to have been blindfolds sent to me, gift-wrapped by the devil. I'm grateful to have questioned those beliefs and the people who made me feel I should go on believing them. Breaking free from those chains did not endear me to the people anxious to keep me bound and burdened, but I have found and loved people I never would have considered worth my time or God's when I was a girl of twenty.
There are issues I cannot take a stance on, not a solid one, not yet. There are bits of theology or doctrine that I cannot find peace with. I will keep on questioning, and I am glad to do so. God always leads me toward an answer. The answer tends to leave me with ten more questions, and so on and so forth. But, so long as I question my own thoughts and ideas, I know I will not grow stagnant. I want faith like a rushing river or even a babbling brook, not a mud puddle in a ditch.
For a while, my skepticism scared me. I was afraid my questioning somehow made me less of a Christian. But, the more I read about Jesus, the more comfort I have... also the more discomfort (because that man asked his followers to go places and do things that are daunting even for the humblest of men). He let Thomas put his fingers in the wounds on his hands. He drew a broken Peter back to his side. He sent his mother away and then gave her a replacement son. He raised Lazarus from the dead, but he let other men die. He spared the adulterous woman but not the hypocrites. He said and did things I may never understand, but I think he likes that I want to understand, that I am trying to understand, that I keep on asking questions.
I'm telling you this, in part, because I think many of you feel the same way. I think we're afraid to admit we have questions, afraid to say, "I don't know everything about the way Jesus would have me to live." The most terrifying verses in the Bible, for me, are words from Jesus. *When he says, "You said Lord, Lord, but I tell you, I do not know you." That sends shivers of fear down my spine. So I am going to keep on asking questions. I'm going to try hard to be known by him. Maybe, when I make it to the other side, he will see me coming and say, "There she is, the girl who never shut up, never stopped saying, why, how, who, when, where." I'm okay with that. I want him to know me, and I want to know him.
The other reason I'm sharing this, as disjointed and spiderwebby as my thoughts may be, has to do with my theme for 2013. I have been clinging to Mary in 2012, thinking about her saying, "let it be." Recently, God gave me my next theme. I'll share more as this year draws to a close, but this confession of skepticism is a precursor to my theme.
My most prayed prayer is this one:
** "I believe, Jesus. Now help my unbelief."
* Matthew 7:21-23 ~ Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
** Mark 9:24 ~ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”