Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Plus there is the whole faith thing...

I claim that my faith is the most important thing in my life. And it is. It really is. I leap out of bed most mornings and cocoon myself in my study room for an hour of "quiet time." I write in my journal. I read the Bible. I do some sort of preplanned Bible study. I marvel at how much I learn each time I read and meditate on God's Word. So why are there other mornings when I don't want to get out of bed at all? Why are there times when I am not so sure? When I wonder if what I believe is really true? I know that in the past I have had people berate me for revealing my doubts in public. Well-meaning people say that because I have taught Bible classes and advised other people on their faith, I shouldn't say that I'm not always 100% sure. But isn't the un-sureness a part of the faith walk? The Bible says that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Sometimes I'm just not certain. Sometimes I'm not so sure. But I have come to believe that that's what faith is; it's continuing this God-oriented journey even when the outcome isn't clear, even when I don't feel the solid rock under my wandering and stumbling feet. But I march on. I press on. I remember once hearing a pastor say that he keeps a small part of his heart aside in case all this faith stuff is wrong, in case he's been duped by all this God-stuff. I remember that you could hear a pin drop when he said that. His honesty was unnerving, but also reassuring. Pastors are supposed to be sure, aren't they? Yet because he told us the truth about his doubts, it was okay for us to tell the truth about ours, for me to tell mine. I love the story of Thomas, the disciple who said he wouldn't believe that Christ had risen from the dead until he could put his finger in the wounds in Christ's side. He is often referred to as "Doubting Thomas." Even though the Bible doesn't tell whether or not he inserted his finger, there is a painting I love (I'll have to find the name of the artist. Perhaps it's Caravaggio...) that shows Thomas' finger in deep. He didn't just look at the wound up close; he sticks his finger into it. He spoke his doubts out loud in the company of people he loved and trusted, and in the painting anyway, when he had the opportunity to do so, he reached out in doubt and withdrew his finger with his faith substantiated. Good for him. How great it was for Christ to stand there patiently and let Thomas find out the truth behind the rumor of His resurrection first hand, or perhaps "first finger." Do we dare give voice to our doubts? Do we dare reach out our hands in doubt and ask God to give us a way to feel, to sense, to know - some sign of His presence? How do we find the balance between faith and doubt? Between hope and despair? Between telling the truth and keeping the truth secret??? This whole faith thing baffles me... Doubting Gail

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