Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doubt

I hesitate to post this, not because I am ashamed of or troubled by people reading my private thoughts, but just because I'm not sure I'm going to express this well, and it may be somewhat scattered, as it is something I'd usually write in my personal diary. But I do post it, thinking that in doing so I may be an encouragement to those of you who have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with some of the same thoughts.

Lately (I can't pinpoint a time frame, it has most likely been a downward spiral that has probably been building for months, even years, although it has been more consuming the last week or so) I have been harboring doubts in my mind about the Christian faith, how we can know the Bible is true, and why we do what we do. How do we know that Jesus is the only way to God? Do I really believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? How do I know that God is interested in my life? Even more general questions, like what is the purpose of music? Why do we sing in church? Do we just do these church activities because that is what we've always done? Is "church" just a tradition that has been passed through the years and now has no real purpose? I guess my real question has been: Am I just doing this church thing because that's what I'm "supposed" to do and because it's what everyone in my family has always done? Am I just an old fuddy-duddy because I believe it is important to be active in the local church--actually, basically my whole LIFE revolves around church! Do I really "believe" in it? I teach children to sing church songs--am I just brainwashing them into believing what I've always believed just because that's what I've been taught? Just because it makes them behave? I've always been the "good girl." Sometimes you just get tired of it! (Issues: fear of man, pride!)

Now I must confess these thoughts never left my head (until now) and had no real affect on my daily life. I still tried to get my heart right to worship God in church, I still went to work every day and have still been the "good" girl, doing the right things (but admittedly not always for the right reasons).

I think I've just been struggling with the daily-ness of it all. As someone has said, the problem with life is that it is so daily! I am expected to go to church because that is what I've always done. I am expected to be a good example because I am a teacher. Wouldn't it shock people if I just turned my back on the Christian life and went and did what "I" wanted to for a change? Maybe "they" DO have more fun! Maybe this Christianity stuff is false and the world is right. I can see how easy it can be for someone to turn their back on God and just totally "give it up." But then I started going down that path logically and realized how different my life would be away from Christianity. But would it be for the better or for the worse? How do I KNOW that it isn't more fun on the "broad" way? I also saw that this is exactly how Satan would want me to think if he wanted to influence me (thank you C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters).

Then I wondered, why am I having these thoughts? I think we all have thoughts similar to these at some point in my life. My problem was that I began to dwell on them a little too much. And instead of casting these thoughts aside and filling my mind with God-honoring thoughts, I allowed myself to think about them. Then I realized I hadn't been having my devotions regularly. Instead, I'd allowed things like other people (wanting to be liked--fear of man) and television (am I careful in what I allow into my mind?) to influence my thinking about what was really important in life. After all, how do I know that Christianity isn't the one "brainwashing" me?

There are examples of those who went before us that we can follow. If I'm wrong about Christianity, then Pastor Viars is wrong! That seems ludicrous! :) All these missionaries and people I've known throughout my life who would die for their faith: they'd be wrong, too, if Christianity is misleading. So I turned my gaze to the Word: "Set your affections on things above; not on things on the earth." (Col. 3:2) Jesus is our high priest who has "been tempted in all things like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 7)

Pastor Viars said something in church Sunday that really helped me to get clearer in my thinking. He was talking about how Jesus is the better way (and I was questioning howe we KNOW that), and then he said a statement that I can't recall verbatim, but something to the effect that we have to DECIDE to follow Christ. Then it struck me. I've heard many proofs for the validity of Christianity throughout my life, but ultimately there is no one that can PROVE Christianity is "the religion" to follow. I need to make the CHOICE to believe in Jesus. And I need to keep making that choice every day, choosing to spend time in God's Word because I know I need to, not because I'm ever going to feel like it. I will CHOOSE to go to church because that's where the body of Christ meets. I DO believe the Bible is true. And, yes, some of this will be done somewhat perfunctorily (and I will be praying for God to change my heart). Sometimes I'm only going to go to church because I have to play the piano, and sometimes I'm going to choose to do something because it's the right thing to do, but I'm going to keep making that choice. Not because I feel like it, but because "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beth, I probably look at your blog once a year!! Here is a thought. Life being "daily" is not a problem. The problem is when we don't follow Christ the way He told us to - "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose, it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. It's not about us - it's all about HIM. - Jack

seminarybeachbum said...

Thanks for being transparent and sharing your thoughts. You really got my mind going, so I appreciate it. It's good to see real-life Christianity.
Asking why I do what I do isn't a bad thing. On the issue of the church, some have proposed that we need a radical departure from church traditions to rediscover "authentic" Christianity. I don't deny that we Baptists have our share of attenders who are simply religious and that we have our share of church traditions in America. But is a departure from tradition necessary, or do we need to get back to the roots, i.e. the Scriptures, to see our purpose in doing what we do. If Christ Himself is present when His body gathers together and if one of the purposes in the church is to encourage each other in the daily-ness of this life of faith--then church seems to have significance, and a big one at that.
Ultimately, I think you answered your own question when it comes to doubt. Salvation calls for a faith that endures (Heb 6). Though my faith may waver, I must ultimately keep on believing and keep on trusting the promises of God. Yes, I have made the choice, and by faith I believe that Christ as the ultimate goal will be worth it all in the end. Where else would we go? Only Christ has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Rachelle said...

Isn't Hebrews amazing?!?! I really love the teaching the past couple Sundays on this book and have learned some of the same things you have too! Keep striving to be in the Word! That's one thing I realized I didn't do as much. I turned to books or people, but never truly to God and His Word. I'm in the same boat and will be praying for you and as I hope you will be for me too. Thanks for posting!
-Rachelle

Anonymous said...

Beth--
Mr. Parks just called and alerted me to your post. He said he's been praying for you and sent you a fatherly email as he is concerned about you. Your thoughts have reminded me to be more intentional in praying for you and all my children as my concern for you has been your daily time with the Lord, which was a key statement in your post. I think I listened to the sermon you referred to. Getting behind in listening, though. Appreciated the other comments. Love, MOM