Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Doubt It!

It's taken me years to accept there is room for doubt in my life and it can turn out to be a good thing. There was a time when I felt I had all the answers, tied up in a neat little package. Not just answers to the big questions of life and death, but answers to all the in-between questions as well .  Admittedly this gave me a feeling of security and control over my existence.  But it left no space for dealing satisfactorily with doubt, mystery, time and chance, miscalculations or the unexpected sharp curves that life tends to throw at us.

I didn't see the need to "question the answers" provided dogmatically and authoritatively by others in whom I had put all my trust.  This is not uncommon as many people do automatically accept the belief system of their childhood.  And then one day I began to ask questions and discovered my cherished answers were seriously lacking.  But, in the asking, the bottom of my neat, organized, knowledge package came apart and everything fell out. I was left to pick up the pieces, some broken, and realized they would never fit together perfectly again.  It was like starting all over and I felt very vulnerable, yet the process was so very necessary.

Here's the thing: we can't presume to spell out what God himself has not spelled out.  To quote author Philip Yancey, speaking of his own personal experience which closely resembled mine: "The church environment I grew up in had no room for doubt.  'Just believe!' they told us. Anyone who strayed from the defined truth risked punishment as a deviant...."

It shouldn't come as a surprise--no matter how many rules we follow or who we are, life and all its highs with joys and triumphs, and lows with loss and pain, happens to all of us.

Philip Yancey's book, entitled Reaching for the Invisible God, has a basic premise:  God's invisibility guarantees we will experience times of doubt. A relationship between an invisible God and visible humans will always involve an element of uncertainty. To pretend that doubting never happens or that it is an indication something is very wrong with us isn't necessary.   Unavoidable, seemingly-unaswerable questions that arise from time to time, especially in seasons of sore trial.  Some answers will be opaque.  So do be prepared for mystery.  A finite mind will never be capable of completely grasping the infinite. We often see through a glass darkly. Life is not destined to always be easy or predictable.

Quoting Philip Yancey again: "The only thing more difficult than having a relationship with an invisible God is having no such relationship."  And strangely enough, the closer our relationship, the more questions we may have about his involvement in our lives.

Though some things may remain clouded, that which is absolutely crucial in order for us to establish a deep and lasting relationship with God can be clearly seen and understood. During times of uncertainty, we have only to open our eyes wider to "see" the invisible God in the marvels and intricacies of his creation, nature and the cosmos.  There is goodness, which comes from God, all around us if we would only look for it. There are miraculous interventions, all shapes and sizes, that surround us. And knowing in advance how perplexing his "invisibility" would be for us, the Son of God actually came to earth in visible flesh to live with us for a period of time to show us who God is and what he is like.

Maybe it's just me, but it has been stimulating and liberating to ask questions, ponder and meditate on life's penetrating issues such as death, eternity, suffering, the existence of God. I am no longer reluctant to doubt and question nor am I afraid of the obscure.  Even though I don't have all the answers as I once thought, I have a more profound certainty than ever before. You would think it would be the opposite. Having all the answers is not a requirement nor is it meant to be.  I have found seeking to personally connect and bond with the Creator of Life and the Universe is what counts.  Of that, I have no doubt.

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