Today I tackle a new issue: The issue of doubt. I created this blog as a place where hopefully others could find encouragement in their spiritual search. Today I am the one that needs encouragement. Today I struggle with doubt. Just in the past two weeks of posting I’ve realized that perhaps God has led me to create this blog to help my own journey more than anything else. That idea in itself is quite humbling in the realization that I am the one that needs help. I do need help. Everyone does. That’s why we seek truth. That’s why we are Christians or that could be why you are reading this blog investigating Christianity to see if it’s the answer to life you are looking for.
I first accepted Christ when I was about 13. It was a Greg Laurie Monday night at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, CA. I honestly cannot remember a single word that pastor Greg said that night but I do remember the feeling I had when he gave the invitation to accept Christ. Up until that point I never thought or considered myself lost in life. I was not looking for a savior. I was just being a kid and growing up. I was much more worried about girls and skateboarding than the meaning of life, but for some reason when he gave the invitation to accept Christ it made sense to me. It felt right. So I got up, walked down to the front and sincerely said the prayer confessing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Many things have happened in my life since that day but I can tell you one thing: I was never the same again.
I got involved with a church, met some Christian friends and for a couple of years was living what you would consider a productive and successful teenage Christian life. These couple of years gave me what I now consider my perspective of “childlike faith.” My faith was strong! I saw God in everything and talked to Him and included Him in everything. I had many strong spiritual experiences and had many prayers answered almost instantly sometimes. It was a very happy time in my life that I’ll never forget.
So what happens next in the story? A prodigal leaves home. I met a girl and a very special girl! I fell in love with her and I’m still very much in love with her. She is my wife. We met when we were 15 and have been together ever since. I know the cliché high school sweetheart story. I’m walking proof that it does still happen. I thanked God for this girl—and I still do—but something happened; as my relationship with her grew stronger my relationship with God became less important and eventually I didn’t even care to go to church or read my Bible anymore. In the process of growing up and becoming an adult I “fell away from the faith” as you could say.
I went to college, got married, chased some dreams, I had some successes and some failures—the typical American life—but an emptiness always remained in me. An emptiness that you could say was more of a longing. I often tried to burry this longing and ignore it. I tried self-medicating with alcohol. I tried to satisfy the longing by chasing dreams but nothing worked. It was still there. What made it worse is that I realized I did not have this longing during my teenage, short lived Christian experience. I say that it made it worse because I was so far from Christianity at this point that I had rejected it. The world had consumed me. The “un-answered questions” devoured my childlike faith, filled me with doubt and tossed me out into a huge pain ridden world.
Through the years—though I had my doubts about God—I still kept an open mind to the spirit world. I was never an atheist but more of an open agnostic. I did not reject the idea of a God, spirits, demons or ghosts, I just more ignored it saying “I don’t know.” I would go to church sometimes when invited and it would just irritate me more than anything because of how happy everyone there seemed. Flash forward ten years and I’m at an old Inn vacationing. This Inn is known to be haunted. From the advice of a friend I jokingly decided to “provoke the spirits.” I was drunk and was doing it more as a sarcastic joke to myself but I walked around the room alone saying “spirits come” and motioning them in with my hands. Now I would not suggest this to anyone because what happened was perhaps the most terrifying experience of my life. Nothing happened at that exact moment and we continued to party into the night and went to bed. At about 4:30 am I was woken up by a noise. It was not something I could identify. It was a sort of clicking or cranking noise. As I glance around the room I realize its coming from behind the bed. I then realize I cannot move. I am paralyzed and lie awake unable to speak. I then sense an incredibly evil and dark presence in the room and I have the feeling it has come for me. My thoughts are “Oh my God, is this really happening?” Suddenly out of nowhere I can move. I jump out of bed hyper ventilating, wake up my wife and rush out of the room. What exactly happened that night I cannot tell you for sure. I don’t know exactly what that was in the room. From researching the experience is what is scientifically known as sleep paralysis. This is something that is documented to have been happening to people for a long time. Some explain it as demons visiting you in your sleep and others have tried to scientifically explain it off as nothing supernatural and all made up in your mind. I think those that say it is made up in your mind have not experienced it for themselves.
Ok, enough of the ghost stories. The reason I have told you all this is because this experience scared me right back to church. In my mind I reasoned: if there is a spirit world, then there is an afterlife and if there is an afterlife, then the God of my teenage Christian years must be real. Back to church I went and I started praying to God to take me back. I pushed my doubts aside and recommitted my life to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Now came the issue of the “tough” questions. If I was going to be a true committed follower of Jesus I wanted answers to some of the questions that had lead me astray in the first place. I started studying the Bible, regularly attending church, reading Christian theology books and basically became a full time student of Christianity. Since then many of my questions I have found answers to and hence I started this blog to help others like me.
So now on to the issue behind my whole reason of starting this blog in the first place: doubt. Let me first tell you something that is quite encouraging to me in my Christian walk that I think a lot of spiritual seekers don’t realize. It’s impossible to be a Christian without doubt. That may sound as an absurd contradictory statement to some of you but think about it. Faith cannot exist without doubt. Without doubt we would not say that we believe by faith. Faith is putting your belief in something that you are not positively sure of, something that is not proven fact. Here is a fact: Everyone whether they believe in God or not have put faith into their beliefs. We all live by faith in something. I believe that an atheist must have more faith than a Christian to believe that the world just came to be out of nowhere (read my blog “Is The Bible The First Science Book?” for more info on that). With Christianity we know from Hebrews 11 that it is impossible to please God without faith.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Now that we know this comes the next battle: The battle between doubt and faith. One cannot exist without the other but one can definitely be greater than the other. This is why we as Christians are to live by faith and not by our doubts. When I first recommitted my life to Christ my faith was on a rollercoaster of ups and downs from one day to the next and sometimes from one hour to the next. Certain things would trigger doubt and my faith would drop, certain things would trigger belief and my faith would rise. I’ve come to realize now that the Christian walk will always be somewhat of a ride of ups and downs but it does not have to always be a rollercoaster. You may go through the “rollercoaster phases” but thankfully with God’s help we can often get off the rollercoaster and on to a more relaxing ride.
Today I woke up with doubt on my mind. I have been surrounded by “new age” theories and much talk of extra terrestrial life and what not lately. It makes me question, do any of us know the truth? How can we as Christians be sure? But then I hit an anchor: the word of God. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The problem with new age theorists is that they don’t have the Bible. They don’t have a book that is 27% prophecy and proven to be correct again and again. They don’t have a Savior that had over 300 prophecies fulfilled that were written many years before Him. I heard a pastor recently say that the American people today—according to polls—are more spiritual than ever and that the problem is not that they don’t believe anything but it’s that they believe everything. This is so true. Everyone these days seems to have their own theory on life’s meaning. People are making up their own religions. Conspiracy theories are more popular and gobbled up by the masses more than ever before, but if you bring up Jesus Christ all of a sudden nobody wants to talk. Why is this? Perhaps it’s because we can sense the real truth in Christ? Perhaps it’s because people like their immorality and they don’t want to answer to a greater being admitting that we are flawed and in need of help? Perhaps it’s because the belief in God would mean that we are not the greatest ourselves.
You may say that intellectual barriers keep you from believing but I say search your heart and I believe you will find a longing for Jesus that you know deep inside is right and true. Search your true feelings about Jesus. If you say you don’t believe in Jesus then do you think he was a delusional lunatic? That’s what he would’ve had to be saying and teaching the things he did if he was not the Son of God. Do you think the Apostle Paul and the disciples wasted their entire lives preaching a lie through persecution and most even killed for it? Do you believe I am wasting my life right now writing this and with my decision to follow Jesus? Do you believe we’re all here completely by accident and when we die it’s as if we never existed? Even when I was not a Christian I always cringed when people talked negatively about Jesus. I just felt that it was wrong inside. My heart always had a longing to be with God. I know there are many things we do not understand in life and for many men saying “trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Pov 3:5) is not good enough. Well the bible also says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1: 5). You can bring your doubts to God. God does not expect us to have a 100% sure belief, he expects us to have faith. As I mentioned earlier there is no such thing as faith without doubt. Take a step of faith and bring your doubts to God and ask him for wisdom. It is through faith that God will reveal himself. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Take the first step of faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
So if you are a seeker or a doubter reading this blog then I commend you because you have already taken the first step of faith simply by reading. Your desire to find out more means that you may already have more faith than you think. There is peace found by faith in Christ. I promise you this. But don’t take my word for it, take His! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8). The Christian walk is an incredible journey. I invite you to take this journey on with us. Come home Christian! Come home!
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