Dealing with Crises of Faith

“Welcome to the desert. Enjoy your stay.”
Photo courtesy of Dasha444 at deviantart.com.

I hardly feel qualified to speak on this subject, seeing as how I’m in the middle of my own crisis. But since nothing else is coming to mind today, maybe I can say something that will bring encouragement or insight to someone.

There are ministers out there who will say that true believers never waver in their faith. That if, in fact, you are wavering in your faith or going through a tough time spiritually, it’s a sign that (1) you aren’t really saved or (2) you aren’t where you need to be in your relationship with God. Honestly, I struggle to take seriously anyone who says they feel 100% joyful and confident in their faith at all times. I simply don’t believe it’s true. Everyone gets knocked to their knees at some point. Even Jesus went through tough times. Garden of Gathsemane ring a bell? How about his temptation in the desert? Angels had to minister to him afterward. You don’t need ministering unto unless the fight has taken something out of you. And I don’t think anyone could accuse Jesus of being out of line in his relationship with God. Continue reading

Why I Still Believe

This gospel of love is true; this I know.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I never experience crises of faith. I do, far more than I care to admit. This living for Jesus thing isn’t easy. Trusting in a deity whose ways are not your ways and whose wisdom is the foolishness of man carries substantial risk of friendlessness and embarrassment. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and wonder if the resurrected Jesus is just someone I cooked up in my head. Sometimes I wonder if my life would be better if I got up the next morning without a thought in my brain of caring for the hurting or avoiding temptation to please someone who, self-admittedly, isn’t even on the same page as me.

I have those thoughts, and then…something happens. Something that makes my faith real and relevant to me all over again. Continue reading

Are You Saved?

I accepted Jesus Christ as savior at 5 years old. I remember the moment so well. I came running down the sidewalk toward my father as he picked me up from school that day, shouting, “Daddy, I’m saved! I asked Jesus into my heart today!” I was so full of joy at knowing that no matter how dark or lonely my life became, Jesus would always be near to comfort me.

But my joyful assurance wasn’t to last.

See, I would go to church and hear ministers ask me if I was really saved. Because there was a chance I might not have been completely sincere in my confession of faith the first time around. I might have prayed the sinner’s prayer without really knowing what I was doing. I might have done it simply to impress someone or to obtain my “get out of hell free” card. I might have unknowingly “back-slidden” since then or left some sin unconfessed during that first prayer. At any rate, I had to question, question, question. Were my motives for following Christ pure? Was my life completely without sin? Was I doing everything possible to be holy? Would God find me worthy of heaven at The Judgement? I had to be sure! My eternal soul depended on it. Continue reading

Rethinking Faith: Lord, Help My Unbelief!

I’m so ecstatic to be writing this post today! I just know it’s going to bring a great revelation to someone. I myself want to go whooping around the front yard with joy. But first, I have to tell you a story.

Several months ago (in the early summer) I was sitting in a Sunday morning service with a communion cup in my hand, listening to my pastor speak about the healing power of Christ’s blood. He said that it was possible to receive healing from communion if one had the faith.

At the time, I desperately needed healing. I had been struggling for 18 months with a digestive disorder that was becoming progressively worse. It had started as an occasional bout of diarrhea whenever I ate greasy fast food. But within a few months, it had devolved into any fast food. Then greasy food cooked at home. Then every night after dinner, no matter what I ate. The diarrhea was soon accompanied by crippling stomach cramps. I began to dread dinner. I cut pizza, sausage, bacon, ground beef and other heavy foods out of my diet. (I also had to cut out lettuce and ranch dressing, because that set me off, too. So no salad.) I began monitoring the amount of food I ate at night to prevent my stomach from becoming too full, another trigger. These changes reduced some of my symptoms, but did not eliminate them. I had just purchased a vegan cookbook, thinking that a drastic dietary change might be the only way to bring permanent relief. In the meantime, I had undergone a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, an ultrasound, and several blood and stool labs. The term “IBS” (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) was tossed around. But the doctors could not come to any definitive diagnosis. And for one problem they did manage to identify, they could not prescribe the antibiotic used to treat it. There was a nationwide shortage.

Now, here I sat with a communion cup in my hand. My last hope. Continue reading

Something to Blow Your Mind

Lately, I’ve been hungry for the truth and presence of God. I’ve been reading my book on the history of Christianity (boy, am I learning a lot!), along with more of my Bible. I’ve also been feeling a strong urge to pray and meditate. When it comes to prayer, though, I struggle. Always have. I’ve always viewed prayer as the ultimate act of faith–to speak to someone I can’t see or touch or audibly hear. There’s also the issue of what to say. Sometimes, words (even in tongues) just seem inadequate to express what’s in my soul. So last night as I laid in bed, I stared at the ceiling and tried to will words to my lips that just wouldn’t come. I finally felt God say, “It’s ok. I’m here with you. Just meditate on me.”

I know some people picture God as some old guy dressed in robes with a flowing beard. But that’s not at all how I see Him. I picture Him as the Bible describes Him, as a spirit of life, light and love–the source of all good things. So He is bright, warm, and radiant with energy and comfort. He has no physical body, features or boundaries. He just…is.

And when I’m in His presence, nothing else matters. The fiscal cliff doesn’t matter. The culture wars don’t matter. The ineptitude on Capitol Hill doesn’t matter. Worries over my career (or lack thereof) don’t matter. My sufferings on this earth, even my death, don’t matter. Because when you grasp the true nature of God, you realize that He has seen all. Is all. Is ultimately going to resolve it all. That life on this planet is barely more than a blip on the cosmic radar. What matters is that He is love, loves us, and wants to be with us–His ultimate creation–for eternity. Continue reading