Staking My Life on a Hunch

Have you ever known someone who no matter what, you knew you could count on their faith? Someone whose faith was so central to who they were that you could not begin to imagine them without it?  Someone who regardless of what was going on would cling to God to get them through, and their faith often helped you to get through as well?  Someone who every time you talked, you were encouraged and your own faith was bolstered?

For many, I was that person.  But now, I’m so filled with questions and doubts that I don’t know where to turn.  I am still 100% convinced that God exists and that He is active in this world, but how can I know that He is actually the Christian God as I have always assumed? It is incredibly disconcerting to go from being the person described above to not knowing what you believe at all, but that’s where I’m at.

Storm at sea.

Storm at Sea
Andries van Eertvelt
Public Domain

Everything I know of God, everything about my faith, has been based on the Bible.  Without that, I am lost.  I feel as though I am adrift at sea with no way back to solid ground.  It’s a strange sensation after the years I devoted to Jesus.  I was completely certain of my identity.  I cherished my relationship with God.  I proclaimed Christ to those around me.  I taught hundreds of children and teenagers His love.  Everything I was, was defined by the God of the Bible.  Now I feel as though I have no identity at all, and I miss the relationship I had with Him.  But I can’t keep pretending the uncertainty isn’t there just so I can be whole again.

I was taught that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant word of God.  Yet there are many things that some manuscripts include and others leave out.  There are numerous places where numbers don’t match, or names are slightly off.  And, of course, the place where Paul makes a distinction between his own words and those of God.  If there is a distinction there, in the middle of this book that is thought to be wholly inspired, how do we know there are no other places that are just the human author’s thoughts?

Some might say that my experiences of God should be enough for me.  And the fact that many of those experiences had to do with the Bible should definitely count towards the authenticity of the book.  But I can’t help but wonder, did my experiences only involve the Bible because that is what I know?  Did God only choose to speak to me through that book because it was the one that was available to me?  After all, He has used plenty of other things besides the Bible in my life, so why should His using it cause me to assume the Bible is inspired?

Dave Schmelzer, pastor of the Greater Boston Vineyard Christian Fellowship, tells the story of the first time he prayed in college.  He told God that he didn’t believe He was real, but that if He was, it would be a great time to show up.  Later that night, he got lost twice, despite possessing an excellent sense of direction.  The first time, he rammed a giant floodlit cross while studying a map, and the second he parked underneath a different floodlit cross without realizing he was doing so.  A few months later, after many other experiences that he could only explain as divine, he spoke to a friend.  The friend insisted that he was a Christian because he had ended up under crosses.  The friend said that this  clearly showed that he was interacting with the Christian God.  But Dave asked what the odds were that he would run into a mosque in that neighborhood.  He agreed that something was at work, but it did not follow that he was a Christian simply because it was a cross that got his attention.

That’s kind of where I’m at.  There’s definitely a God out there, and I know I’ve experienced Him, but I’m not so sure how to bring that back to Christianity.  Whether the Bible is trustworthy is a pretty fundamental issue.  I want to believe it; I’ve certainly dedicated enough of my life to it.  But I can no longer pretend that the questions aren’t there.  The Bible makes some pretty radical claims and strong demands.  While I think it’s probably true, and I certainly want it to be true, I can’t stake my life on a hunch.

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14 Responses to Staking My Life on a Hunch

  1. passionlace says:

    Hi! I just wanted to tell you that I completely understand the feeling you’ve described because I have felt them before and I still do on occasion. One thing that has helped me is to actually research and study the other religions of the world. In my experience, most of them can be discredited quickly, but that is something you have to check into yourself.
    As for the discrepancies within the Bible, you have to remember that when anyone is recalling an event or conversation, they do so from their individual perspectives. Like in a car accident: one witness sees a car run a red-light and “cause” an accident. Then another witness, viewing from a different angle sees a car rearend another car, sending that car out into the intersection. It’s the same wreck they are talking about but with different details… And the details aren’t contradicting each other.
    Anyway, like I said, do some research. For me, the outcome of researching was a renewed and strengthened faith. That isn’t always the case but, either way, at least your faith (in whatever God you choose) will be backed by something other than uninformed habits. Good Luck

    • Bobbi says:

      Thank you. I really appreciate your comment. I especially like your last line, “…at least your faith (in whatever God you choose) will be backed by something other than uninformed habits.” That really resonates with what I’m trying to say. I can’t continue to assume that what I have been taught to believe is true simply because it would be convenient to do so; I must actually reach that conclusion on my own and be stronger for it.

  2. Steven says:

    Do you want to go serve Satan? Wake up! Get in the enemies hands for a while and I assure you will be begging for salvation, he is cruel and has no mercy. He will kill you, steal from you and destroy you. Shalom 🙂

    If you can’t have faith in the good times, what are you going to do in the bad times? As my Grandfather used to say, may he rest in peace, “if you can’t run with the footmen, how will you run with the horses”?

    Jeremiah 12:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

    Snap out of it Sister! God is real and he loves you and stop worrying about every little mistake in the bible.

    • Bobbi says:

      I think you missed the point, but thanks.

      • Steven says:

        Hi Bobbi, maybe I did at that. But on the one hand you do not sound like a hot, on fire, born again, first love Christian. On the other you don’t sound “cold”. That just leaves “lukewarm”.

        What you wrote is all about YOU and not all about HIM. Will a brother who loves you give you pats on the back for that or encourage you to shake yourself up before you fall away completely. (it happens more than you know) Of course I don’t know you personally, and this is all based on how I perceive this post, and you may be the most on fire for God person in the world, I admit that! But if your not completely on fire:

        Jude 1: 20 “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

        • Bobbi says:

          I appreciate what you are saying. If I were in a different place, your admonishment would be exactly what I needed to hear. However, your categories of hot, cold, and lukewarm refer to Christians, while I currently only identify as theist. I expect to come back around to identifying as Christian, but not until I can believe the Bible for a more compelling reason than because I was taught to do so. If I were to tell myself to snap out of it and get back in the game without first finding compelling evidence for the veracity of Scripture, that would be no different than telling myself that I have to believe in unicorns. Faith must be based on more than sheer determination.

          If you are indeed a brother that loves me and wants to help, then these are the kinds of things that would be beneficial:
          – pray
          – explain what you believe about the Bible (God’s word? inerrant? inspired? to be taken literally? etc.) and, especially, why
          – suggest sound resources (logically consistent, well-supported, balanced, etc.) that discuss why we should or shouldn’t believe the Bible
          – possibly share your own experience of how you came to believe the Bible is true

          Things that are not helpful include:
          – telling me to snap out of it and jump back on the bandwagon before I deal with my questions and doubts
          – quoting the Bible (since I’m not sure I believe it, quoting it does nothing to further the discussion)

          • Steven says:

            Bobbi,
            Ah, my mistake, but that’s part of blogging. We write things expecting to be understood, and then we dialogue and get feedback which leads us to see what we write from others perspective. Then we adjust, we continue to write, we get ideas for more posts, we further clarify our position. It makes us better writers along the way if you’re up to the journey.
            So, from your perspective you’re not in need of admonishment. That was how your post came across to me. I only admonish Christians, my family, if you’re a theist you’re not my Sister. Sorry for the interruption. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Word of God or “The Two Trees” | pickandprintgallery

  4. Well, I seem to remember that the last discussion that you and I had centered around the Metaphysical similarities between Christianity and Islam, (or something like that) so, I would never have expected that if you did ever have questions/doubts/interrogatories that they would be easy or common ones. Not a chance.
    So, a couple of things:
    Snap out of it? You’re not likely to be Mesmerized, So, why say it?
    Bandwagon? Christianity is eaten through with bandwagons of all colors and stripes, most of which are self serving, self perpetuating and filled with circular logic and I, for one, have no use for them.
    I guess I could always insult your intelligence (which I suspect is greater than mine when guaged by IQ) Seems counterproductive though.
    Seeking Truth, (Big “T” truth) no preconceptions, no sermons, no judgment, no games, no BS, no sacred cows, no “Omigosh how could you ask that!” responses.
    You know where I stand, so no mystery there. I offer honest, no holds barred dialog. 2 way conversation, respect on both sides. Maybe we could both learn something.
    You also probably know that I am in frequent and fundamental conflict with the “conventional wisdom” so, perhaps kindred spirits in some aspects?
    Interested?
    – An old guy you used to know..

  5. I’m pleased that you are willing to give my perspective and journey a fair hearing, but I think that the basis of that perspective as relates to you personally needs to be established. So, I am going to be totally transparent and honest, I dont think you would respect anything less.
    I have great regard for you, and I dont really know why, I have been thinking about that for the last 12 hours or so, and I havent come up with a satisfactory answer. But, I have been able to mentally catalog a couple of reasons that are NOT the basis of that regard. My perception of you and your qualities are not based on the fact that I thought you were a “good Christian” (even though I did think that) So, it follows that the present state of your faith or, lack thereof, has had no earth shattering effect upon my respect/affection/mental picture of you as a fellow human being. I guess the closest I can come to a reason that I like you is that you never exasperated me with “mind games” as so very many people do. I suspect that your present journey may be outgrowth of your basic inability to be emotionally or intellectually dishonest. I find that to be an appealing characteristic in most anyone. So, what I am trying to say is, from my standpoint, no matter where this leads, nothing has changed or, if I have my way, will change, as far as my relationship with you is concerned.
    That being said, I had a crisis in my own life about 30 years ago that went like this: Do I believe what I believe because it is the objective truth, or because somebody in a position of authority told me it was true? It was life changing for me. It started me on a path I still walk today and, I do not regret the questions I had to ask. The accusation that having questions is an evil thing in and of itself, is an idea I reject. I speaks more of the weakness and fear of the accuser than the rebelliousness of the questioner, if you get my drift.
    I hope you are willing to overlook my inadequate prose, they say that 50%+ plus of communication is non-verbal so as I struggle to make myself understood, grace may needed.

    Alright, I am going to put away both of my typing fingers and await your comments.

    P.S. My wife is the MASTER QUILTER. I would send you photos if I knew how.

    • Bobbi says:

      I’m sorry I haven’t responded. I haven’t been meaning to ignore you; I’ve just been swamped with work and school. I’ll shoot you an email this weekend. I’m assuming the email you provided in order to comment is good?

      • Yes,
        That E-mail is valid. Take your time, I know you are overwhelmed, I have been hanging around here for over half a century so I ain’t likely to go anywhere soon. TTYS, – Steve.

  6. Daddy says:

    So…. I am officially a bloger now. Can’t turn back…. the ice is broken.
    I must say that I am very proud of your honesty. Back in the day, we didn’t have blogs to open the windows of our hearts to. We just kept things inside. Not a smart approach to serious thought. You have elected to allow others to experience your journey. You are giving a part of yourself to others that may encourage them to also deal with their mysteries with courage and transparancy.
    Dad’s advice for waht it is worth…. search with all your heart for the answers you seek; Surround yourself with balanced, knowledgeable counsel; Pray that God would reveal to you the answers; and even if you are struggling to believe that the Bible is real, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – it is the most amazing collection of wisdom ever put together. It has been proven to be historically accurate through archeology, and it has been proven to be prphetically accurate.
    An old boss once told me after his father made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to disprove Christianity, “I found that there is no doubt that Jesus lived and walked this earth. The evidence is just too overwhelming to argue against it. I also found that everywhere I went, archeology testified to the historical accuracy of the Bible. What I didn’t find was Christ, or the Risen Savior.”
    He found all the evidence, but was unable to find faith.
    Dad loves you and is daily praying for your and Ben’s journey. I praise God for you, and always will.

    Steve – THANK YOU!!!

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