“I need a faith that’s consistent with reason, not contradictory to it; I want beliefs that are grounded in reality, not detached from it. I need to find out once and for all whether the Christian faith can stand up to scrutiny.” Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith
Like my faith journey on any given day my ascension out of the pit of doubt and skepticism is a bit of a roller coaster ride. Every day I pray and read my Bible and I experience new understandings, victories and joys that slowly lead me out of this black hole. But within even those days there are also moments of doubt, questioning and frustration about my faith, about my career in ministry and about what I teach my children and those I speak to and lead. So although I am not laying on the floor of pit anymore, the climb as I alluded to earlier this week has been arduous, disappointing and still filled with struggle.
This weekend I was still not feeling particularly holy or “Christian.” I would be in His Word and pray and take three steps out of the black of hole of doubt but then I would inevitably loose my footing and challenge a biblical principal in my mind or roll my eyes at a Christian song (my husband has every room on main floor wired for sound – lots of opportunity for eye rolling at the Sandretti house). I then remembered reading about a man named Charles Templeton who traveled and preached with Billy Graham back in Graham’s early years. Templeton eventually renounced the Christian faith and died (as far as we know) as an agnostic. As I took out my book The Case for Faith which shares Templeton’s story I read briefly about how Graham reconciled his friend and partner in ministry losing his faith. As Templeton began to renounce his faith he would challenge Billy Graham and inevitably Graham began wondering whether he could trust the Bible. But finally after much thought, turmoil and prayer Graham decided, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word – by faith.., Not all my questions were answered.., [but] In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.” This insight stuck with me this weekend and as I read the Bible and meditated why God was still allowing me to climb out of the pit (instead of just freeing me from it) I crossed the chasm. I believe no matter my feelings or intellectual arguments or doubts or skepticism’s that God’s Word is true and that His love for me is rich, real and unending. In getting to this side of the chasm I am combing thru the book of Romans and I am doing a 4 week basic discipleship study revisiting the most foundational tenets of the Christian faith. On this side of the chasm I am realizing again that to question whether or not we really believe what we say we believe and what we think we believe and what we really hope to believe is a very good thing to do (in fact I think we all MUST do it at some point). God is not intimidated by our questions and we should not be afraid of what we will discover when trying to find answers to them.
“Lord, thank you for a two week trip to the pit; thank you for letting me climb out wiser, stronger and more committed to you and what I do and teach than before I fell in. Thank you for a better understanding of how to minister to those who don’t believe your Word or who have fallen into a pit of their own. Thank you for your patience and grace for me while I traipsed around in the dark and thank you that you love me the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Amen.”