Doubts

When I was 22 and recently married, I faced a time of extreme doubt. I was fresh out of college with a BA in philosophy and ready to take on grad school at SWBTS. Yet in the midst of preparing for the academic journey, God seemed silent and distant and missing. This went on for months (in hindsight, roughly 9 months) with no relief, just a leaden sky. One way of describing this experience is that in a similar way it was like Descartes’ use of doubt to find that place of certainty, but not voluntarily so.One day this spiritual drought ended and the one place that I found as unshakeable was the cross of Christ.  The historical reality and spiritual significance of that event gave me courage to move on with my spiritual journey.  That defining moment in my life, that moment of great clarity I may never forget, especially since I remember standing in the  kitchen of my  apartment, shaken to my core.

I doubted but began to believe again. If I could not doubt the cross, I could not doubt the resurrection. If I could not doubt the resurrection, I could not doubt his ascension. If I could not doubt his ascension, I could not doubt the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost. The narrative of the church from before creation to now, was the story I was involved in now.  That moment of being shaken was the beginning of a work that, however haltingly it proceeds, is necessary for Christ to be formed in me.

Yet, this spiritual formation of Christ in my life is not for me alone but for his bride, the church. It is Christ in the community that is paramount. The work of the cross in my life has been limited by my despising the body that Christ seeks to bring life. I nursed some deep anger, bitterness and disappointment because of the expectations of some brothers. I was stubborn for far too long. I was still doubting but in a different way. I doubted that the Spirit of God could work in others like She was in me. I had expectations that were shattered and this threw me off balance. I doubted the freedom God has to work through whom and in whom He desired. I am slowly beginning to see the body of Christ with new eyes. For that I am grateful to God.

I still doubt but I still have faith. The doubt is my own, the faith is from God. I am beginning to trust in God in ways I never imagined. I believe in the cross of Christ and His resurrection from the dead. I believe in His church that is called to be His bride, body and temple. Though I doubt, I will trust the One who died and reconciled the world to God. Though I doubt, I will trust God’s grace even in the midst of my unbelief. The love of God is greater than any doubt. One day doubt will fade away. But in the meantime, doubt can purify and temper our faith. In some instances, it may be doubt that drives us to total abandonment to God.

Grace and peace,

JWR

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2 responses to “Doubts

  1. I can identify in many ways. I sent you my recent testimony and now all the stuff I knew in my head was just that, in my head. The Spirit of God who I had been taught to kind of stay away from and was dangerous and blah blah blah, was none existent in my life. So the knowledge became my judge and sucked the spiritual life out of me. It wasn’t till I truly experienced the true river of life moving in me that I can now life in Christ. I was trying to live with Christ in my own power. That didn’t work. I am blessed to have been shown this truth via an Anglican Sprit filled priest at that. Something this old Baptist, than Presbyterian couldn’t even fathom. I never thought the ancient worship of God could be so powerful till I experienced it full of the Spirit and communion with God sweeter than I had ever experienced it in the 26 years I have been a believer. God is good indeed.
    Oh and about the state of the church, I believe this Spirit filled Anglican priest said it best, we are not yet polished but we are a hospital of jacked up desperate peoples.

    • I know what you mean. I have been trying to keep the balance between head and heart. For me, theology can either drain the spiritual life out of me or provide and insight into the depths and wonder that is Christ. I try to chose the latter. Ultimately, it is about seeking Christ, intentionally looking for him. If the Spirit is truly in all this, that is who you will be drawn to and who you will reflect. That quote at the end sums up the situation of the church rather well, whether Anglican, Baptist or Vineyard.

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