Doubt That Leads To Faith
Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving. - Frederick Buechner
There have been more than a few moments when I doubted that God's purposes were for me and not against me.
I've good reason to think that God would not oppose smiting me with some difficulties, a challenge, or two. I'm not the best Jesus follower, truth be told. This is why I often say I'm "stumbling after Jesus." There are a few rough edges to my faith.
Plus, I've got a lot of years of wrestling with the baggage I carry with me because of my fundamentalist upbringing, which brings a whole heaping helping of guilt, shame, and self-loathing with it.
I'm still a Christian after all these years, which is a wonder to me sometimes. It speaks to the power of the Good News of Jesus and my hope and trust in God's overwhelming, unconditional love.
Even so, there are days when I don't feel warm and fuzzy about my relationship with God, and I also wonder if God is really paying attention to what's happening in the world. I'll wager that you probably wonder that sometimes, too.
To quote one of my favorite W.B. Yeats poems, it sure does seem like in our current culture, "the best lack all conviction/and the worst are filled with passionate intensity."
So when I am filled with doubts, I have begun to embrace them rather than wallow in misery because of them. I have come to see my doubts, as Frederick Buechner so beautifully put it, as the "ants in the pants" of my faith.
Rather than serving as the end of my faith---these doubts are the beginning.
When I find myself doubting that God is God and knows what God is doing, I become more open to God, if that makes any sense. Rather than shutting down my heart, I open it up. I long for some sign, symbol, or evidence that God is on the job.
And in that longing, I am more often than not surprised by the hope that comes when I experience God in the world around me.
Clement of Alexandria, a Christian theologian who was born just over a century after Jesus' life and ministry, once wrote:
By striving toward God, one shows noble daring.
I have come to believe that merely desiring God and striving toward God is all it takes to open our hearts and minds to the presence of God in the world around us.
That might seem like a bold statement, but it's one that I am learning is more authentic and genuine than any doubts we might have. And in most cases, our doubts lead us to strive toward God even more.
You see, when we experience doubt, we have the opportunity to let go of certainty, and we can release our own will in matters of faith. Because, in the end, it is certainty and ego that keep us from experiencing God.
So if you have doubts today, don't try to stifle or brush them aside. Refrain from letting them lead you to double down on certainty, which can take the form of either disbelief or further bolster your previously held beliefs.
Instead, let your doubts lead you to more openness, more profound curiosity, and a willingness to be led further on the road of faith.
This noble daring is one that you won't ever regret. Faith and doubt are not oppositional; they are partners. Faith and doubt work hand in hand to help us experience the fullness of a life spent pursuing God's presence in the world.
May it be so for you today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.