Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! Perhaps the most honest words ever uttered.
I want to believe completely. I want to be certain. But certain would mean that I have absolutely no doubt. None at all. Nada. But the truth is, I do have doubt — at least a little doubt — daily.
I mean, what can we really know for sure these days? Even when there’s overwhelming evidence — eye witnesses, testimonials, on-the scene reporting, and confirmation by multiple sources — someone will inject a tidbit of information (is it dis-information?) which calls it all into question. Suddenly, I’m beating back the doubt that creeps in under the door I slammed shut and thought I had securely sealed.
How do I know who to trust or what to believe? I ask myself because, after all, this is really a personal matter. That’s when a voice from long ago rings in my ears. Mom prepared me for moments like these. When I found something hard to believe or when words directed at me felt hurtful, rude or unkind, she’d say, “Consider the source.”
Consider the source. From whom do the words come? What do their actions tell you about what they say? Mom didn’t tell me who to doubt or who to believe. She offered me a gift of much more value: she taught me to how to perform the trust test. Got doubts? Consider, not just what they say, but what they do, which shows you who they really are. Don’t just take them at face value.
Now God I could take at face value, but as I have not seen God face to face, and since God told Moses “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live,” (Exodus 33:20) I’m thinking life is going to have some doubtables. I am expecting there will be plenty of opportunities for my very human self to consider the source and still be left with uncertainty. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!
Can I hold on to belief AND doubt and still live?! I mean, holding two apparently contradictory things together without resolution is exhausting! The more you bring them together, the more they repel one another. Here, take Matter and Anti-Matter and see if you can get them to talk things out.
Some days, belief and doubt feel very much like matter and anti-matter. I can’t even bring them into shouting distance without risking blowing myself up. How can I possibly hold onto two completely competing realities and live?
Yet, sometimes the hardest questions have the simplest answers.
Wayne, a man of deep and abiding faith in God, showed me this as he shared the story of his last moments with Jane, his beloved wife of fifty-one years. * She had nearly reached the end of her brave battle with cancer, and, knowing that time was short, Wayne sat by her bedside reading silently from Acts Chapter 2 . “Just as I looked up, Jane passed from this life.” he said. “In that moment, I felt both the deepest sadness and the greatest joy.”
The deepest sadness and the greatest joy, I thought. What could be more opposite; yet, what could be more true? Two competing emotions in the same place, at the same time. No overlap. No dilution. Full force. Mighty power.
‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ~ Acts 2:17-21
What a mighty wind of hope even in the deepest despair. Sadness and Joy, Heaven and Earth… Somehow, belief builds a bridge.
So, as I dive deep into my days where conflicting opinions, different understandings, and sometimes even belief and doubt both compete for my allegiance, I am buoyed by the story of this couple, the faith they shared, and the moment that will linger between them until they meet again.
they meet again. God knows that this tiny little “if “occasionally arises in my very human mind because I don’t understand how two people can be reunited in heaven after both have become the dust of the ground. So, I’m left to consider the source.
Who could have scripted a moment like this? Who could have invoked such words? such thoughts? such emotions? Where has humanity witnessed such a moment? a moment where Great Joy met Deep Sadness and turned tears of despair into shouts of joy?
Could it be that such a source is doing it still?
Every time I admit my doubt to God, He injects a tiny glimmer of consider this that I could never have imagined and thus invites belief to take its proper place again. God doesn’t expect us to be doubtless, just faithful.
*Wayne has kindly and generously offered his permission to share his story here.
I am reluctant to say this to God.
‘I will follow you all the days of my life.’
Because I know I won’t.
I will trip and fall.
I will stumble or swerve or slam on the breaks.
I will not follow, so let me not say so.
But what if I did say so?
Would that not be arrogant and proud?
As if I knew I was a special one,
Selected from among the many,
Singled out for my…my what?
You’re no more special than the other, my dear.
Come, simply at my request,
Come willingly, but without reservation.
Say you will, knowing fully that you won’t.
That is the price —
which I have paid.
And in that instant, the ground under my feet is firm.
Of course, I say.
I see it now, I say.
How could I have doubted?
The very thought!
Oh my God!
I have ushered in my own demise.
The ground begins to crumble and my balance gives way.
My arms grapple with the air,
But there it no holding, no grasping, no righting.
Only tumbling, falling, twisting, turning,
confusion, chaos, peril, and fear,
I knew it was too good to be true.
Yet, it is true.
I saw it, I felt it, I was there.
Briefly, ever so briefly.
Were it not for my doubt,
Oh doubt, will I ever be rid of you?
I brush myself off
and attend to my scrapes and bruises –
No gashes, no stitches, no broken bones.
I seem to have survived the fall.
That is why I came.
Falling is part of believing,
It draws us closer.
What can you possibly want with someone like me?
You are free to go.
Where should I go?
You can come with me.
Finishing touches will kill you. Do you want the line to go up or down? the name to be this or that? is this darker or that? Should we label it or leave it alone? describe it in the caption or put it on the figure? And really, should this be positioned before or after, vertical or horizontal? It’s a veritable maze of decisions out there. And I’m only talking about the illustrations!
But I’ve come this far; I’ve got to finish. It might be tempting just to be done with it. Let good enough be enough and go on to other things. That would be the easy thing. Frankly, it would be the practical thing. But somehow it’s not the right thing. So each day I have to stare delay in the face and tell her (yes, her) “You have no power here.”
And then she gets angry. I know this because things start going wrong. Small things. I can see her throwing a temper tantrum. I can’t get hold of someone, can’t find something, can’t use, can’t open, can’t balance. Can’t is tricky, you know. It has sneaked the “no” out of cannot thinking no one will notice. But I have – in fact I just did, as I typed that – and so I am onto you, Ms. Delay. You who gleefully sprinkle can’ts around and convince me that finishing is much too hard.
I know this because God has already placed people around me who I’m meant to call upon down the finishing stretch. Some of them are tough. Some of them are demanding. Some of them speak sweetly but are rabbid about a deadline. Some just show up at my door, in my inbox or via text. There’s a whole daggone crowd gathering. So I think that must be the finish line just ahead.
In the meantime I am humming a tune that has popped into my head. The chorus goes,
“Oh I wonder what God was thinking
When he created you.
I wonder if he
Knew everything I would need
Because he made all my dreams come true.
When God made You
He must have been thinking about me.
(Here’s the rest: New Song – When God Made You Lyrics | MetroLyrics)
It’s a dream I have that my daughters would choose that song for the first dance at their weddings. (Don’t tell, but in my dreams I start singing that song, and then they take over and sing the verses to their new husbands.)
But really, can we believe that when God created, everything He put in place came from a heart that knew just what we would need and when we would need it and made it so? Already? I suspect the dress rehearsal has already taken place in the heart of God. We were there, walking it all through, and now we just have to remember the steps.
Oh my. There’s gonna be some DANCING on at that heavenly reception!
For now, move over Delay, I’ve got work to do.