I realized this morning that I don't believe in God
I have this saying: "Faith is about believing in God, not believing that God." By which I mean that faith isn't simply the intellectual knowledge that God exists; I believe that my wife Angela exists, but when I say I believe in her, I mean that I love her and trust her. So it should be with God.
Isn't that CLEVER? Couldn't you just see that on a HALLMARK CARD or a BUMPER STICKER?? Boy, am I proud of that saying. Bully for me, being so witty and all.
This morning we went to the sunrise Easter service. It was beautiful. We all lit candles from the Paschal flame, and it was dark and quiet and reverent. And then during the sermon, the priest quoted Jesus:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
And I realized then that for the past several months -- okay, let's be honest, we may be talking about something that's been growing for years -- I haven't believed that at all. Scripture teaches that Jesus took our sins to the Cross with him so that we may be released from them. Jesus took my fear, my guilt, my shame, my anger, my anxiety, my failures, my abuses, and lifted them off my shoulders. They aren't mine anymore. They were nailed to a piece of wood two thousand years in the past, and with His death they were forever eradicated.
In their place He leaves His love and His peace. These things are to fill the Christian's life and flow out in the form of compassion toward others. We can do this because we know in our hearts that we can trust God to keep his promises, because he loves us fiercely and wants us to be with Him.
And that is not where I am right now. I have stopped believing that any of this can be true for me. After all, I'm petty and weak-willed, self-centered and lazy. The things I've done in the past come back to haunt me again and again, and each time I am appalled at what a bastard I can be. The knowledge of the depths to which I can sink, and the degree to which my good intentions fail me and others even today, has become the defining factor in my life. The peace of God, I think, must be for others. It can't possibly be for me. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my new faith. Here's how rooted in me it's become: knowing that I have a history of alcoholism in my family, I actually considered taking up drinking this past week just to help me cope with my daily stress. I mean, how stupid is that? It was practically a panel out of those hilariously dumb Jack Chick comics. "Jesus can't help me -- maybe I can find the answer in beer!"
So the words from the pulpit fell on me like a ton of bricks this morning. I realized that I spend all of my time wrestling with -- what? Not even my actual faith, but the idea of faith. I grapple with what I believe to be the Big Questions and manage to completely miss the point of this entire exercise, which is that Jesus died for ME. In the passage the priest quoted, Jesus flat-out ORDERS me not to worry about the state of my soul, or anything else for that matter. How could I possibly have missed that?
Repentance was the call of John the Baptist, a poor translation of the Greek word for a turning of the mind away from the old and toward the new. It's time for me to let go, and to truly repent.
Thanks to iandunn for starting the wheels turning.