The God Who Wants to Be Found – Pt. 1

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Is God truly loving? And if He is, then how can He condemn millions of people to hell? If God is really good, then what about all the people in the world who have lived and died without ever hearing the gospel?

How can people be responsible for their sin if they never knew anything different? What if they were sincerely following their religion? Shouldn’t that count?

If God condemns people to hell who aren’t responsible, then He can’t be good and loving. He must be angry and horrible. Who wants to believe in that kind of God anyway?

“The space between doubting God’s goodness and doubting His existence is not as wide as you might think.” Rachel Held Evans, Faith Unraveled.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard those questions from people who have grown up in church. But reading them again was sobering. They are legitimate questions asked by people searching for real answers. Too often all they get in return is Christianese.

If you’ve been following my last few posts you will know that I have been on a journey of discovery, reading books that I thought I disagreed with. The first couple were a pleasant surpriseFaith Unraveled was a little more difficult. Written as a memoir, it explains how Rachel Held Evans left a staunchly right, evangelical worldview in search of answers to her many questions. I was left conflicted.

Often Rachel and I would be on the exact same page, using the same Scriptures for the same arguments. Then without warning we’d each take an abrupt 90 degree turn and end up with completely different conclusions. Ultimately though, I didn’t hate the book as much as I anticipated. And I appreciate the questions Rachel forced me to wrestle with as I read.

“There are millions of people, past and present, who have had no exposure to Christianity at all. Are we supposed to believe that seconds after Jesus rose from the dead, everyone on earth was responsible for that information?”

Rachel Held Evans, Faith Unraveled.

Again, legitimate question. Let’s tackle it.

This isn’t going to be a theology lesson. I just want to share my heart with you about the God Who Wants to Be Found.

It’s okay to ask scary questions. I really is! They are good. But as we ask, let’s not suppose too many things about the God of the Universe.

  • We can’t suppose that our understanding of the gospel is the only way. That people must pray a specific prayer, or “walk down the Roman’s road”, or “repent and make Jesus Lord”, or whatever pet phrase you want to use. What if it’s easier than that
  • We can’t suppose that God is either loving and let’s everyone into heaven, or angry and happy to condemn people to hell. What if His wrath has already been satisfied and everyone has an opportunity for eternal life? What if it’s our own choice that condemns us?
  • We can’t suppose that God is hiding up in heaven, aloof and withdrawn. That the only way to find Him is through the Bible or the American version of the gospel. What if He is closer than we can imagine?

These questions sound almost heretical, don’t they? 😉

I’m not a Calvinist, or an Arminian. And if you want to debate theology with me, I’ll have to disappoint you. I’m just a girl who thinks that God is always bigger than we can imagine, always more powerful, more wonderful, more mind boggling. If we think we have Him in a theological box, we are sadly mistaken. He will never fit!

It’s okay to step outside and wonder. How do these questions make you feel? What have you been wondering about? It’s easy as people to become black and white in our thinking. But I think life might actually be a lot more gray.

I’m going to finish these thoughts tomorrow. Share some stories and verses from the Bible. Keep talking about the God Who Wants to be Found. Stay tuned!

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When Life Falls Apart

 

choose to believe“Is any of this real? Does God really exist? If He does, is He really good? Does He really love me?” I sat at my desk, mind reeling, stomach in knots, staring at my phone, the recent call playing in my head.

Have you been here? I have, more than once. The place of heartbreak, disbelief, doubt, questions… It’s not fun. It hurts. It’s hard!

I was a couple of years out of the cult, had been on my own for about six months, was going to college, and working as a live-in nanny for a challenging family. It had been a hard six months. I did not love my job, at all. Suddenly, I discovered my dream job working with troubled teens! God brought it into my life in a way that HAD to be Him. I applied and got an interview; it was all going so perfectly! God was going to bless my hard work and faithfulness by giving me the job of my dreams! (Or so I thought.) But, then the phone call came…they hired someone else.

I thought I had a strong faith, until the bottom fell out. Now I was questioning, doubting, struggling with my beliefs…

Guess what? That was twelve years ago when I was a young (less mature) college student, but I just had a similar struggle this morning! (And there have been plenty in-between!) Doubt happens. This world hurts.

I don’t know what you are feeling today or what has happened to you. Maybe its the death of a loved one too soon, cancer or other illness, someone you love is still making bad choices, prayers that have gone unanswered for years… Or maybe you are just looking at the mess this world is in and feeling discouraged and drained.

Is God really real? Is He really good? What do we do with our questions and doubts?

I honestly don’t have any perfect answers, just my own experiences and the beliefs I cling to despite my doubt.

I think we embrace the doubt and we ask the questions. Don’t feel guilt or shame for doubting. If God is real, then He is big enough to handle them. And if He is good, then He will love us anyway and understand our struggling humanity. We wrestle through our emptiness and look at what the Bible says and the evidence around us. We remember the things God has done in us and others over the years and the prayers He has answered. I like to find someone who I know will speak truth to me, someone who will love me and not judge or condemn, someone who’s faith is stronger than mine at the moment, and I ask them to encourage me. But…

Ultimately, I just have to choose to believe.

Every time life falls apart… when I don’t get the job, when my babies died, when my prayers don’t get answered, when the childhood friend I’ve loved and prayed for forever still doesn’t love Jesus, when my husband and I are fighting or when he disappoints me, when people hurt me, when death happens… I have to choose to believe.

I choose to believe in the God I know exists even when I can’t feel Him. I believe in His goodness, and sovereignty (that He never loses control), and love for me. I believe that He has a plan and that nothing can stop Him. I believe that Jesus is always the answer. I hold on with determination even when I can’t feel Him. And so far, every time, He has come through, and met me, and held me. This strengthens my faith for the next time.

Where are you on the journey? Are you struggling? Doubting? Questioning? Determinedly holding on? Choosing faith? Trusting? Can you feel Him holding you?

I really didn’t want to write this blog this morning. I was a mess and I didn’t have anything to say. Then Jesus came, just in time, and now I get to write in humility and vulnerability. 🙂 I might be passionate, but I am not perfect. Not by a long shot! But I believe in the God who is!