I was in church the other Sunday and a friend of mine was telling her wonderful story of God’s love, support and healing in her life at this time. What a great encouragement. How great is our God. What an amazing answer to prayer. What an amazing God we serve.
And then I was hit, smack between the eyes, completely out of the blue, by an entirely different series of thoughts. What if all of this is totally make believe? What if there is no God? What if we are all kidding ourselves? This could all be an elaborate farce that we are all buying into. It could all be explained away by coincidences, the power of positive thinking and the reasoning of science.
Suddenly I felt empty. I was alone in the universe. Life seemed meaningless.
And I was ashamed. What if anyone here knew what I was thinking? Here I was, encouraging others to move on in their faith journey, whilst being flooded with doubts I didn’t know what to do with. I told myself not to panic, but my knees were shaking. I told myself not to let anything show, but all I wanted to do was run out of the church. I told myself it would pass as quickly as it came, but I couldn’t imagine ever being able to believe again.
Three things helped.
Firstly, we sang.
“Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden…
(that’s blown my cover, then – if He’s there, then He knows)
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit..
(that is exactly what I need – couldn’t have put it better myself)
That we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name
(that is exactly what I yearn for – with all of my being)
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
(so let it be – Amen)”
Secondly, a friend sought me out after the service to tell me what an incredible encouragement my writing had been to her. It had lifted her up in a difficult time and helped her to see God through it all. Ironically, her words did the same for me. She helped me to see God at work. Seeing God in her assured me that He is at work in all of us. That’s how we know God is real. We see the incarnation of God on earth in others. We show God’s love, we demonstrate God at work, we reflect God to the world around us.
Thirdly, a couple of days later, I read these words from Rob Bell –
“I believe that the indestructible love
of God is an unfolding, dynamic reality
and that every single one of us
is endlessly being invited
to trust, accept, believe,
embrace and experience it.” (LOVE WINS)
Unfolding. Dynamic. Reality.
Faith is not a one off decision, a single act of conversion. It’s not as easy and straightforward (or static and ‘in the past‘) as that. Faith is an ongoing series of daily decisions to trust. More than daily, even…in every moment, whatever comes our way, we have the choice to trust God or be cynical, to accept God or to reject Him, to believe God or to doubt Him, to embrace God or to push Him away, to experience God or to ignore Him.
Choosing to trust God with every breath we take. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the challenge, whatever the “rational explanation”, whatever the outcome, whatever the doubt.
Nothing can separate me from the love of God.
Nothing can separate me from God.