A NightLight:On Tapping the Underground River

NightLight posts every Friday with encouragement for and questions from younger women. No matter your age, you are older and wiser than some, and you’ve been equipped to share through your story. Please read the guidelines and consider submitting questions or posts of encouragement or advice to [email protected]

I would rather the following post receive no response than any responses that are not wholly out of love. Conviction doesn’t always mean love. I loved this email because it made me remember my own unbelief, how hard I worked to muster up faith. It gives us opportunity to see that those who don’t believe aren’t a bunch of non-feeling, Ignorers. Thank for for your thoughtful response to this guest poster. I’m honored that she would share her thoughts here and that you would meet her here with grace.

The writer says,

I want to emphasize that my intent is not to offend or belittle anybody. I’ve talked about my lack of belief with two people outside my family. One, my father’s pastor’s wife, implied that I was just rebelling and would “come around” when I had felt real sorrow. The other was insulted, which made me sad for days. This is just an honest question that I have, and it would be nice to have encouragement from people with strong faith. I’d like to know if others have felt the way I do, and what led them to change.

I don’t think that I can Believe in the way that you and your readers do, that my family does. I don’t Believe in God, even though I want to.

My father is Presbyterian and my mother is Catholic. I was baptized Catholic, but I wasn’t confirmed because I take religious commitment very seriously and knew I couldn’t honor it with the way I felt. The way I feel is hard to articulate sometimes, but essentially I don’t think that there is anything hearing or answering prayers. I grew up with a very simple faith, lighting candles during Lent and attending weekly Mass, but when I was 12 things began to get complicated. I would say my nightly prayers, but I couldn’t escape the thought that I was praying to nothing.

Intellectually, I found faith beautiful and inspiring. The people I think of as faithful are strong, kind and true to themselves in a big way. It’s like they’ve tapped in to an underground river that I haven’t found. I envy them. Like I said, I want to Believe. But I don’t.

I try to fall into Believing. For one month I tried to say prayers every night, like I did growing up. I would talk about what was on my mind, what I regretted, what I hoped for. It led to clarity, but not to God. I still was overwhelmed with the conviction that there was nothing, that everything was empty, that this life is it.

Most of the time, that doesn’t bother me, because I consider myself happy. But sometimes I allow myself to realize that I am not deeply content. Not with myself, not with my family, not with the way I live. The pastor’s wife could be right – maybe this is just a teenage stage. But somehow I don’t think so.

I know that there is some historical truth to the Bible, but I consider the rest story – a beautiful story that has changed the world, but not literal truth. Maybe this is part of my problem, but I don’t know how to change what I think. I’ve read Karen Armstrong and Christopher Hitchens, C.S Lewis and Aldous Huxley. My favorite writer is Graham Greene, a Catholic who struggled with his faith all his life – but at least he had a faith to struggle with. One of my favorite lines from a novel of his is, “I’ve caught belief like a disease.” The problem is that I can’t seem to catch it, and I don’t think that belief should be a disease. It should encourage, not erode.

I just need to find my way to that uplifting belief, that underground river. I was hoping you and your readers might be able to help me.

Comments

  1. I don’t know if I have the words to truly help you. I have never struggled with believing in God; I have seen His hand in my life so many times. I have struggled with understanding and believing basic parts of God’s Word, of His work in me, but my belief in Him has never wavered. So I don’t have wisdom for you, but I certainly could not read and run. I am praying for you right now, as I type these words, that the Holy Spirit will illuminate your heart. I am praying that you will see, that you will find your way to the cross and believe. I am praying that God will show Himself to you in a way that is so incredibly powerful and amazing that you will not be able to ignore it or disbelieve it or doubt it. He loves you so much. Keep seeking. I believe that if you keep seeking, He will lead you to the place where you will find Him. Don’t give up.

    All God’s best to you, dear one.

  2. Oh, how I have been where you are so many times! What I find truly inspiring is your DESIRE to know God! It is so wonderful that the seed has been planted! Continue to search! I know it’s hard to hear when you are not believing, but this desire you have to seek the truth, I believe in my heart that is God working in you! If you didn’t believe at all, I think maybe you wouldn’t care so much! Keep looking, He will find you!

    Praying for you!

  3. Wow. Brave questions. In my own faith journey, I have passed through seasons — some of them long — of great skepticism. I was raised in the South, a place Flannery O’ Connor calls “Christ haunted” for good reason. While the “bible belt” stereotype is in many ways unfair, I grew up watching Religion get worn like a purse, a sort of fashionable social accessory that could be tossed when out of fashion. I deeply resented the hypocrisy I witnessed, and I was just self-righteous enough not to see any of my own.

    You mention C.S. Lewis, and his Mere Christianity was a turning point for me. This sounds silly to me now, but until I found him in graduate school, I wasn’t aware that one could be a Christian and an intellectual. God was pursuing me then, and he was doing it through logic and reason … in the same way that he has captivated friends of mine through deeply charismatic experiences, quiet meditative moments, or even the study of earth science.

    What I mean to say is, the God I believe in knew you — intimately — even as you were being formed in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139). He knows exactly how you are built to respond to him; he sees your struggle and your skepticism and is not surprised by it. He also desires relationship with you more than you can fathom … but I firmly believe that for people as skeptical as I was, he won’t let you “short cut” there through false emotions. Because the struggle is part of the journey.

    You mention your nights of prayer, and I can’t help but feel that’s not happening by accident. Don’t doubt your doubt. Pursue it. Poke it. Prod it. Pray about it. You say it led to “clarity, but not God” … but what if that clarity is a bread crumb on the path?

    Your conviction that you are not deeply content is one of the strongest roots of my faith. Put simply (and again with a nod to Lewis), I cannot believe that humans as sentient beings would have deep, resonant desires for something outside of this world if this world was all there is. Yet, as the bible teaches, there are spirits — led by Satan himself — who delight in our confusion, who seek to destroy us and revel in watching us wallow in misery apart from God. Do not expect that you will be allowed to skip unfettered into a happy, shiny faith. I don’t know anyone of real faith whose journey there hasn’t had some ugly in it.

    Lastly, and since you’ve read some of the deeper theological works, I’d love to encourage you to pick up Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies.” As someone who came to faith kicking and screaming, her conversion story is powerful (though my more conservative friends tripped over her comparison of Jesus to a cat and her use of the F-bomb during her moment of epiphany). In all respects, she is honest, and I think surrounding yourself with Christians who will pull off their masks and let you see their authentic struggles might be a buoy for you right now … until you find a faith of your own.

  4. These are only my thoughts. Maybe there will be dissent.

    Faith is not a magic pill. It is not an ah-ha moment where all the shadows become rose colored. Faith is not found at the end of the aisle or the period at the end of a catechism. Even those who count themselves silly enough to be called “believers” or “Christ-followers” must admit that life brings wave upon wave of doubt, and there are times when the mustard seed boat threatens to capsize. But I think that without doubt faith cannot exist. If God were only able to work in those with perfected faith, those who could muster up the right feelings of belief, he would be too small. The God I know works through doubt and shows himself in places of unbelief.

    Maybe that is why Christ gave us Thomas.

    Nature reveals process. It is around us if we take the time to see. Rain cycles, photosynthesis, digestion, circulation, it’s all part of a process. I think nature can teach us about faith. We start with nothing but raw materials–unbelief, doubt, hope, and perhaps a little sunshine. And in the end, though an unbelievably creative and unexplanable process, we find something more.

    Don’t be afraid to confess your doubt to the one I believe to be the author of the process. Ask for confirmation. Ask for the next small step and the tiniest bit of faith. Take it and go from there.

    Oh yeah, and I’m a dude, so maybe I shouldn’t be writing here… on Friday…

  5. I like what the above poster said about process and nature……
    “Nature reveals process. It is around us if we take the time to see. Rain cycles, photosynthesis, digestion, circulation, it’s all part of a process. I think nature can teach us about faith. We start with nothing but raw materials–unbelief, doubt, hope, and perhaps a little sunshine. And in the end, though an unbelievably creative and unexplanable process, we find something more.”
    God is not only the author of the Bible but also the author of nature. I find often that I can find Him and his truths clearer and more believable in His book of nature than in His Bible. Both were written and given to us for different purposes.
    In my own life I have found that experiencing sorrow allows you to experience truer joy, and feeling pain allows you to experience deeper contentment, and greater doubt leads often to the “faith that passes all understanding.”
    Don’t give up on faith yet, it sounds like it is all ready at work in you.

  6. Such a great post!

    I have struggled with this immensely in the past year. I am in college and have spent semesters studying the bible. Reading the stories and looking at the history. Praying that some kind of God would touch my heart like he is supposed to. I wanted to feel something deeper. I wanted a good connection with God.

    It sounds like our backgrounds are similar. I too grew up in the Catholic church and took part in the celebrations and prayer rituals. The problem that I found within myself was that the rituals, the structured part of religion distracted me from real study and prayer.

    My suggestion to you would be to stop doing those things if they don’t feel right. If you don’t feel close to God kneeling and praying than don’t do it. Often I will be walking and see something beautiful and just say Thank You. A simple prayer. The natural feeling of just thanking God for the beauty on the earth feels more authentic to me than praying.

    Everyone is different.

    Also, I would suggest maybe joining a bible study or taking a course. Honestly, in learning the history of the Jewish people and all that they survived. On faith alone. Gave me hope. It showed me that people are flawed and down right crazy. But they were loved.

    Maybe it will show you. Maybe it won’t. Everyone practices faith in a different way. Everyone feels God in a different way. Every relationship is different. You will find yours.

  7. Hi there!

    I agree with what Seth said. It’s not a “magic pill.” And sometimes it doesn’t feel very good or “just right.”

    Like, right now, I’m not getting the warm fuzzies from my faith. Because of circumstances in my life, I am waking up, gritting my teeth, and saying to myself “I believe in God.” And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I love Jesus, I do. And I know I will come through this to a greater experience with Him. But right now, it’s hard.

    I think, in many ways, that’s where you are. You’re obviously very intelligent, and you think a lot. You are critically examining the choices in your life–what to believe or not. That is WAY more than most people do. I don’t think God ever meant for faith to go unquestioned. If it was, it would mean nothing to us intellectuals. It needs to be tried, tested, and proven. And it will be, even if it isn’t right now.

    Just the fact that you didn’t want to jump into a religious commitment speaks volumes about your character. And you’ve talked to God. You said “it led to clarity, but not to God.” Oh, I believe it led to God. I believe that clarity comes from THE ONE who created your complex mind. You’ve had more encounters with Him than you even realize. Someday you will, and you will be blown away. Have you read Ecclesiastes? It’s pretty depressing, but read it through to the end. The author has a lot in common with you, I believe.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I personally don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with you. I truly believe that if you keep seeking (in whatever way you do that, and there are some great ideas here) you will find Him.

    Take care, and THANK YOU for your honesty. We need more of this. Much more.

  8. I’m a Christian, and a believer in God. Some days.

    Some days I pray, and still feel like I am praying to nothing. You’re not alone there.

    But: I think the fact that you desire to have faith, and desire to believe, is proof that God is working in your life.

    It’s that paradox of: I believe; help my unbelief. I believe in some ways, but I know that I also have areas where I don’t trust God and don’t believe.

    I agree with what Seth said. None of us have arrived. We are all on a journey, and we are all in different places with different struggles and different areas of unbelief.

    I would like to apologize on behalf of believers who have made you feel as if faith means arriving at a place of no doubt, ever. I’ve been burned in the past by that same kind of philosophy, whether it was intentional or not. And it sucks.

    Proverbs 2:3-5 says, “…if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” I am praying for you today. Keep searching. We’re all still searching. Even those who believe.

  9. I hurt for you, but have great hope for you. I believe Jesus meant it when He said seek and you will find. My prayer for you is that some transparent women of God would walk alongside you in real life. Women who are not afraid of the hard questions and doubts. Sometimes it helps to see the dirt and grime and sweat and tears of walking with God, so when life happens it’s not a surprise. To see that trusting God doesn’t mean peaceful happy feelings all day every day. To see His character lived out by godly women … until it’s not … and then see them forgiven and back at it again.

  10. when i’m going through a time of doubt i read the gospels. even the disciples who walked with god in the flesh failed to have perfect faith. start there.

  11. Wow. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I agree with the previous comments that we all struggle with different aspects of faith. I am always grateful to anyone who is willing to admit it. I can’t pretend to understand your specific struggle but I can say I have struggled in my own ways.

    I hesitate to comment because I am literally drawing a blank on the specific scripture references and/or great theological dialogue to back this up, but I am hoping maybe it will trigger another great mind while I stew on it a little more. But what I am trying to say is that the consistent picture throughout scripture is that God is the pursuer of our hearts and minds. I dare to assert that it is actually God that enables us to believe and to cling to our faith. Yes, we continue to struggle and feel the painful reshaping of His hands. But I think that your desire to believe and your pursuit of Him is actually evidence of His pursuit of you. Like I said, I plan to come back with some more substantial stuff for you but for now little ones demand my time and mental attention. :)

    Two of my favorite authors who have really captivated my heart as I have struggled through aspects of my own unbelief are Fredrick Buechner (specifically his collection of sermons called “Secrets in The Dark”) and Gordon Atkinson of http://www.reallivepreacher.com His website has all of his essays, which you might have to dig for but are worth it. He has also written a couple of books.

  12. I really loved Cassie Boorne’s comment. . .
    “My suggestion to you would be to stop doing those things if they don’t feel right. If you don’t feel close to God kneeling and praying than don’t do it. Often I will be walking and see something beautiful and just say Thank You. A simple prayer. The natural feeling of just thanking God for the beauty on the earth feels more authentic to me than praying.”

    That line is great. I’m that kind of pray-er, and I struggle with wondering if it’s “enough”. It makes me happy to know others pray the same way. Anyway, my point is, pray however feels right for you. If you pray like you think others have taught you, it may feel more like a chore, rather than a conversation between you and your creator.

    Also, the line of the poster , about prayer causing contentment. . .the feelings of content could be straight from God. Contentment is hard to come by, I’d consider it a gift from HIM.

    All I have to say is keep on trying. Not only will it encourage you, it will encourage others who might be close to giving up on their quest. Keep plugging along!

  13. Oh my. My heart is overflowing and I am typing with absolutely no plan as to what I’m about to say, so be warned. First, I want to thank you for your honesty. Second, I want to apologize on behalf of my Christian brothers and sisters who have hurt you or misled you in the past. They mean well, but we are all human. Third, I want you to know that I’m praying for you, and if it’s any consolation, I believe that you will believe. I don’t know when, or how, but I know that, as others have said, someone who is so earnestly seeking Him will find Him. And blind faith without understanding is no faith at all, so questioning and searching is completely sensible and honorable.

    I was also raised Catholic. I did not find God in that church. That is NOT to say that He’s not there. But my encouragement to you would be to try out different churches. That may be completely intimidating, but it could change your life, so it’s worth it. I’m not saying this to advocate one denomination or another. I’m saying it because, as other people have mentioned, people experience/worhsip God in different ways. Try different things, read different books, ASK questions. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask. You will find Him.

    Someone also mentioned this, but just as sure as there is a God, there is an enemy, who is absolutely trying his hardest to sabotage you in your efforts. I say this not to scare you, but to assure you that when there are roadblocks in your search, it is not your fault. But the victory has already been won over our enemy, so you have no reason to fear him.

    I would LOVE to talk with you. No pressure at all, but if you are interested, my blog has my contact information. I’ll be praying for you.

  14. I so admire you for sharing this and for persisting like you describe. It’s really quite amazing. I’ve been through periods of complete unbelief, and I know what you mean about the lack of contentment that overrides life.

    I do have one idea to share, which has been helpful to me regarding prayer. I have a hard time with prayer, too. I start talking it out and end up shifting gears into obligations and to-do lists or just worrying about something. So here’s an alternative: Meditation.

    There are plenty of guides on how to meditate, but the short of it is to sit with good posture, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Clear your mind completely, just pay attention to your breath entering and leaving your body. Everytime you catch your mind wandering or thinking about something just say ‘thinking’ and come back to your breath. If you can clear your mind and just still yourself and the voices in your head, you create a space for Jesus to enter in and speak and be heard. The times when I have most strongly felt God’s presence or even a message have been during meditation.

    Another option would be to meditate and then immediately follow with reading the Bible. I haven’t actually tried that myself, but I can imagine when you have cleared your mind of distraction and inner commentary, that you will be more open to receive and hear whatever God may be trying to tell you.

    And I second Anne Lamott. I’m reading Traveling Mercies right now, but she has a handful of memoirs on faith and her struggle with it.

  15. I think the point is not that we are full of faith, but that He is faithful. We all doubt…. thankyou, Seth(?), for the Thomas reference. It’s so hard to believe, sometimes. We don’t all get a Damascus Road experience… sometimes it’s all just a lot of slogging down the same tired road year after year after year, hoping maybe somewhere along the way we’ll catch a glimpse of Jesus. Some of us get to see His face, or His hands, and some of us don’t. I don’t know what the answer is, but I love the question. I think you, (the writer), are a Truth Lover, and that is a God gift.

  16. o dear me…I’m just getting around to reading this all now.

    I have so many thoughts churning in my mind. I hope I can get them down in a coherent manner and I hope they speak life and love….

    First. So much of what you said reminds me of myself. My momma always said I would struggle with God more than my siblings because I’m a thinker, I’m not a feeler. Neither is right or wrong. But for me, I can’t just wish something to happen, it needs to make sense, follow rational laws, be reasonable. You can see why it makes faith hard then. For my sisters they just see God in everything. (Which is not to say I don’t now. But I have trained my mind that “this is this” and “that is that” and so I rely on that being true, not on just waking up seeing a sunrise and seeing it as God’s canvas for me. does that make sense?) My sisters, they not only see God, they feel Him. It has taken years and tears and pleas and prayers to feel His peace cover me. I don’t think its because I don’t believe, or didn’t believe, or don’t believe with as much conviction as they do, I think its just that I’m a “thinker,” I tend to not “feel” many things!! :-)

    I heartily recommend Buchner too. Also the final chapter (really, the whole book) of Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller really changed how I view the pursuit and love of God. The tangible example he used of drawing a parallel with Romeo and Juliet leaves me almost breathless. It’s worth checking out. Soren Kierkegaard is an old philosophy/theologian and his works have made so much sense in my head about spirituality and the Lord. Not sure if you’re a reader, but its easier for me to connect and understand books then people-talking, sometimes.

    I guess a question I have for you is what is “belief” to you? When will you know you do actually believe? Because I would argue that you believe now. Already. The very fact of questions you raise and things you wrote makes me feel that you do believe, you just don’t realize you do. Have you read any books by Elie Wiesel? He survived the Holocaust and has written many books. One of my favorite quotes from a book of his is this:

    “I want to blaspheme and I can’t quite manage it. I go up against Him, I shake my fist, I froth with rage, but it’s still a way of telling Him that He’s there, that He exists… that denial itself is an offering to His grandeur. That shout becomes a prayer in spite of me.”

    I love that. So many times I’ve tried to disbelieve because I was frustrated, hurt, or confused. But the very fact I was trying to “disbelieve” something meant I believed it. But I know mere belief is not enough. Even the devil believes. Faith must produce fruit or it withers and dies.

    I guess I would also ask you what do you want to believe? and then Why? What do you think will happen? Faith/belief is different to everyone. I know I said this before, but for me it is very different than my sister, than my mom, than anyone else I know. Part of this is encouraging because it is of the Lord. He knows us so intimately, knitting us together before we were, and He reveals Himself to us in ways we (individually) will understand. I would venture to guess that belief might not ever be “an underground river” like you wrote about. For you, it might come as a raging tidal-wave, or as gentle rain. The Lord speaks to us in ways we can intimately know and feel as Himself.

    That isn’t to say there isn’t merit in seeking and asking for more of Him. More of His spirit in each day, in each moment. Because the Lord can always move mountains and speak in unexpected ways.

    For me I have had to very consistently practice the presence of God. Brother Lawrence wrote a book on this that has helped me immensely with this concept. A lot of that practice is saying the right things and doing the right things when it seems foreign and ludicrous. Practice is hard work, you know? I played sports throughout school and college and you sweat and cry and I even threw up a few times. But if you practice hard, you play well. I have had to practice the act of faith. I still have too. I know in my head that the more I pray, the more I pray for faith, the more little steps are taken to help me feel faith more.

    I know its been said, but its true. There are battles, there are angels and demons and things we just don’t see going on around us; around you and me. I like to picture in my head that even when I don’t feel like God is there or feel this transcendent beautiful connection with Him that He is there. I have cognitively chosen to believe that, so I pray to that affect, even though it feels absurd (faith is absurd!). I picture each little plea and tiny tiny hope prayer as the Lord sending more angels to break through and help fight on my behalf so the next prayer is a bit stronger (though it doesn’t feel that way, it is true) and I have a bit more angels fighting and helping me. I know that is wacky and out there, but I absolutely believe there are wars being fought right now for my heart and yours, and the more I in my weak feeble heart try and help myself in that realm I have never seen or been, the more I know it will help me here to believe. Does that make sense?

    O my dear sister! My heart hurts for you! For wanting something that is just out of reach. That just no matter how you plead and try doesn’t’ seem to “take.” It hurts that others have told you hurt along the way that has lead to more confusion. I don’t think anything I said is some good magic answer that will all of a sudden transcend years of confusion and searching, though I wish it did.

    I was a philosophy major a little bit in college. The thing that more than ANYTHING else sticks out to me from class was when the professor was talking about marriage. He said that if you ever find yourself not in love with your spouse anymore to act like you like (like you love), him/her again. He said that if you act like you love them long enough eventually you realize that you do in fact love them again! I have found that concept to hold true OVER and over and OVER in my life. I don’t necessarily always feel belief. But I act like I do long enough and I find I do believe. I think thats ok. I think the Lord sees our hearts and intentions and desires…

    Faith is a jump. Maybe others would disagree with me here but I really feel like you do believe you just don’t know it and what you have seen displayed as “belief” is not the sort of belief you hold in your heart. I recently moved to Africa, and let me tell you, belief here looks nothing like it does in the states where I grew up.

    (I don’t want to pretend I know you. Or know what your heart and mind feel and think. So please, I am leery of saying I feel like you do believe. I absolutely hate when people who don’t know me tell me things I think and feel…I guess thats what I’m doing here with you?!? but I really feel the Lord had me say it…)

    I don’t want to tell you to just act like you believe either, because you’ve tried praying every day, etc… and for what end?

    I don’t know what I would tell you. I guess I would tell you that right now, you are so cherished. You are so dearly loved. I am praying this very moment that you would begin to be so overwhelmed by His love and pursuit of you, that you can’t escape him. I need Jesus to remind me of the blood, remind me of the Love this morning, and as I pray for me, I am praying for you too. That his red drips of love would coat you in a new way.

    Please, please be encouraged today, my friend. My heart is heavy for yours. Keep walking. Keep asking questions…..

  17. please know you are far from alone in your journey to finding faith.

    i was raised in a conservative christian family in church 3 times a week, and devotions every night. i am young, yet know much more about the Bible than many of the adult Christians i know. from childhood, there was never a time i didn’t believe in God, or didn’t want to please him. i’ve had a very personal relationship with God for as far as my memory goes back.

    that all to say this, i still have my doubts, and have had a season of doubt so deep, for awhile, i almost didn’t believe God existed. i’m not sure what brought it on, but suddenly i was questioning everything. specifically, how so many other religions claim to have the close, living relationship with their god as i have with Jesus Christ.
    this season was very difficult for me. providentially, i had to read “more than a carpenter” by Josh Mcdowell for school around that time period, and it was exactly what i needed.
    before my heart could fully believe, be moved, let loose in faith, my mind had to know, and know for certain that the Bible is truth; the only truth. i had to know that yes, Jesus actually DID come to earth. historical records prove it. he really DID die on a cross, was buried, and again, history proves he was seen living, breathing after that terrible crucifixion.
    perhaps you must believe in your head before you can believe in your heart. as a deep thinker myself, i know that’s what it takes for me.
    God brought me again back to himself after my time of questions and doubt, but i am so much better for having been brave enough to ask those hard questions and find answers to them. i can only pray that the same will be true for you. God loves us to reason, to use logic, and wrestle and fight to find his Truth. the answers are out there, dear one.
    be strong, and keep digging. He promised to reveal himself to those who seek him.

    one last thing: Jesus Christ loves your precious soul.

  18. I’m really, really late, but I was so touched by this honest letter and the one who wrote it. What a wonderful seeking heart. The parable of the debtor who was forgiven much comes to mind… those who never struggle with belief or have a ‘past’ to repent from often times are not as deeply understanding of what God DID to save them, I don’t think.

    One of my best friends in the world was a die-hard atheist. She was not like you. She didn’t WANT to believe. She scoffed at Christians and felt they were all delusional. She vowed to take them and their belief down – which led her to read the bible and a lot of literature that Christians wrote – and slowly, her heart softened and today she is the most loving and purpose-filled Christian I have ever met.

    My husband struggled silently with doubt also. He said that when he was baptized, and the water didn’t part or the shiny dove from heaven didn’t come down… the clouds didn’t open and there was no ‘voice’ from the sky… he just knew that he was “lost”. He didn’t want to admit it to me for a few months, but then we were reading this Christian book that talked about the prophesies fulfilled by Jesus’ birth, life and death in the Old Testament, and he started crying. He came to faith through the prophesies. But that’s not to say that you will. What I’ve been reading in many of these responses is so true…

    EACH HEART and SOUL IS UNIQUE. Just like a snowflake or a fingerprint. Your heart just hasn’t found that link to faith yet. But I can assure you that God lets nothing return void… there are no leftovers… there’s no accident. If you are searching, you will find Him.

    I had a spell in 2006 where I felt very dark. I was talking a lot with a group of people that were badgering me with evolution. There were Christians in the group and non-Christians in the group. I read a few books that helped me… How Now Shall We Live by Colson and I Believe Because by Batsell Barrett Baxter (what a name, right?). I have also heard that The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith are good (I actually own them but have never read them). I delved in to the Intelligent Design and Creation literature also. HOWEVER, while I think these books are great… I don’t think they are the answer.

    The Bible is clear that Faith comes by hearing and by the Word. It also says that the Father choses to REVEAL Himself. So I would start with the most simple of prayers – just like Judy Blume’s “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret?” Just be honest… like you already have.

    And then listen. That still small desire… that quiet voice… that friend that seems to have the unwavering pillar of faith you admire? Maybe God might have a word for you – a lead for you – a little direction.

    He’s going to be there. :) I’ll say a prayer for you, too.

  19. I’m coming in on this late, but I read this post right before reading a bit from ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ and together they make so much sense to me. In case it relates for you too I’m copying this (long!) passage here. In ‘Letters..’ Rilke – in his late 20s – is writing to a guy in his early 20s “…on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world.” (from the back cover :) (caps are mine)
    “And if it worries and torments you to think of your childhood and of the simplicity and quiet that goes with it, because you cannot believe any more in God, who appears everywhere in it, then ask youself, dear Ms. Kappus, whether you really have lost God? Is it not rather, that you have never yet possessed him? For when should that have been? Do you believe a child can hold him whom men bear only with effort and whose weight compresses the old? Do you believe that anyone who really has him could lose him like a little stone, or do you not think rather that whoever had him could only be lost by him? — But if you know he was not in your childhood, and not before, if you suspect that Christ was deluded by his longing and Monhammed betrayed by his pride — and if you are terrified to feel that even now he is not, in this hour when we speak of him — what then justifies you in missing him, who never was, like one who has passed away, and in seeking him as though he had been lost?
    Why do you not think of him as the coming one, imminent from all eternity, the furture one, the final fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth info times that are in process of becoming, and living your life like a PAINFUL AND BEAUFIUL DAY IN THE HISTORY OF A GREAT GESTATION? For do you not see how EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS KEEPS ON BEING A BEGINNING, AND COULD IT NOT BE HIS BEGINNING, SINCE BEGINNING IS IN ITSELF ALWAYS SO BEAUTIFUL? If he is the most perfect, must not the lesser be before him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and overflow?– Must he not be the last, in order to encompass within himself, and what meaing would we have if he, whom we long for, had already been?
    As the bees bring in the honey, so do we fetch the sweetest out of everything and build Him. WITH THE TRIVIAL EVEN, with the insignificant (if it but happens out of love) we make a start, with work and with rest after it, with a silence or with a solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without supporters adn participants, we begin him whom we shall not live to know, even as our forebears could not live to know us. AND YET THEY, WHO ARE LONG GONE, ARE IN US, AS PREDISPOSITION, AS BURDEN UPON OUR DESTINY, AS BLOOD THAT PULSATES, AND AS GESTURE THAT RISES UP OUT OF THE DEPTHS OF TIME.
    Is there anything that can take from you the hope of thus some day being in him, the farthest, the ultimate?
    Celebrate Christmas, Mr. Kappus, in this devout feeling, that PERHAPS HE NEEDS THIS VERY FEAR OF LIFE FROM YOU IN ORDER TO BEGIN; THESE VERY DAYS OF YOUR TRANSISTION ARE PERHAPS THE TIME WHEN EVERYTHING IN YOU IS WORKING AT HIM, AS YOU HAVE ALREADY ONCE, IN CHILDHOOD, BREATHLESSLY WORKED AT HIM. Be patient and without resentment and think that the least we can do is to make his becoming not more difficult for him that the earth makes it for the spring when it wants to come.
    And be glad and confident.”
    Rainer Maria Rilke

    Rilke sounds very certain (“For do you not see…?” No, Mr. Rilke, Mr. Kappus and I do not see :) but you know he must have waded through similar doubt and restlessness or he would not be able to empathize with the young poet as he does – encouraging him not to be too hard on himself on the journey. In another letter he writes, “…I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.”

    I’m saying all this to myself, too. You identify the waiting and longing I feel – and the fear that I haven’t or can’t tap into the stream. I hope some of Rilke’s letter resonates with you.
    oh Love that will not let me go . . . and hope.
    Sus

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