The Space For Grace Between Faith and Doubt
My friend Mike McHargue has written a book about his journey from being a born-again, Bible-believing, Baptist deacon to a doubt-filled atheist, who then became a sold-out, committed Jesus-follower. It's a book about losing faith and finding it again through science. It's also a book about how God never stops pursuing us.
I was there when Mike first revealed publicly to a room full of pastors and pastor-types that he was an atheist, who also happened to be a deacon in his Baptist church where he also happened to teach Sunday school. He thought he would be reviled in that room, or at the very least that we would spend a bunch of energy trying to convince him that "God is not dead."
Instead, we embraced him and affirmed him in his journey. We shared with him that we all had doubts, we all had questions and that many of us knew exactly what it was like to sit where he was sitting. That grace was unexpected for Mike, and it opened some doors in his heart that eventually God broke through.
I'm no stranger to doubt. But I do know that it's not the easiest thing in the world to admit them. I typically share how I felt doubt or experienced doubt at one time or another. I don't know if I have the courage to stand up in front of my congregatin when I am going through a low moment and tell them, "Yeah, by the way. Today I am kind of wondering if God is even there, you know?"
What I have learned, and what my friend Mike writes about in his book is that there is a gray and foggy space between faith and doubt where most of us find ourselves living and breathing almost all of the time. We are never 100% on board, and even those who claim to be, are never 100% over the edge.
All it takes is a crisis, or a struggle and we find ourselves asking questions. Maybe we get hurt deeply, or we go through a valley full of death shadows. In those moments it's all too easy to embrace the gray and get lost in the fog.
The psalmist who penned Psalm 23 got this. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me," he wrote. And then he goes on to cast a vision of the future that is filled with hope. "You anoint my head with oil... you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies... my cup overflows [with blessing]." And the psalmist says something amazing: "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
If you are struggling to hold on to your faith today, don't get lost in the fog. That space between faith and doubt might be gray and hard to navigate, but you have the Light of the World in your corner. Even that gray and foggy space can be illuminated and made clear with Jesus.
May you find the Light in your darkness. May you find faith in the midst of your struggles with doubt. May you discover a visible space for grace in the midst of the fog that threatens to blur your vision of Christ. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.