In my late teens and early twenties I became a seeker. I sought truth, purpose, meaning, clarity, etc. in a variety of places, people, faiths and thoughts. I pursued enlightenment in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and even Neo-Pagansim. I finally resigned myself to being an agnostic. It wasn’t long before I was forced to admit that to be a complete cop-out. Through a variety of ways (college professors, history books, and the writings of Rene Descartes, to name a few) I began to reevaluate the faith of my youth, the faith I’d initially rejected: Christianity. My final return to Christianity occurred during a conversation on destiny, man’s responsibility and the sovereignty of God. The conversation was a strange one and resulted in my return to the Cross only one step ahead of the young man I led there.
That was quite some time ago, and doubts did not end there. I no longer doubt the existence of God, nor the divinity of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt that the Bible is the authoritative, inspired word of God. What I doubt is humanity in general and myself in particular. I know that, at its core, Christianity is not about organized religion, or what people who claim to be Christians do or say, or even about the teachings of Jesus, but about an historical event that occurred almost 2000 years ago: namely the death burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Even though I know this, it is these secondary and tertiary things which cause me doubts. Christians say and do things which piss me off. The organized church does, or doesn’t do, something that frustrates me. My own thoughts, attitudes, actions and words fail to line up with what I know to be right. Despite my best efforts ministries fail, people’s lives fall apart, my own family suffers and I despair. During these dark times I do not question God’s existence or sovereignty. I question whether I want to continue to serve Him.
Someone once said, “I don’t have anything against God. It’s his fan club I cant stand.” Sometimes I think that no one knows how true that sentiment can be than a pastor. As an officer in that fan club, sometimes I get so frustrated, angered and hurt that I want to tear up my own membership card. At times it’s simply a desire to leave vocational ministry. I try and try, pour my heart and soul into the people only to be bitten and kicked by those Im trying to help. But there are times, I must confess, when I no longer want to have anything to do with church or (dare I say it) God. In the short term the thing that always brings me up short, that stops me from throwing in the towel is my children. I would rather burn for eternity in hell than to cause my children to stumble. But that just the thing that keeps me from lashing out. What renews my faith? What lifts me up? What draws me back to God’s embrace?
There isn’t just one thing. God uses a variety of means to draw me back to himself. Sometimes simply journaling these types of things, laying my frustrations and concerns that i can feel the hand of God helping me sort it all out. Other times I simply have a shouting fit and rail against God and when I’m done, I feel better. I can’t explain why hat works, but sometimes it does. On many occasions scripture just seems to speak directly to me, to the situation I’m struggling with, as if that passage had been written just that day and just to me. Sometimes a person who I thought was hopelessly lost will suddenly call or write to me out of the blue and ask me for pastoral advice. And I can never understate the value of thank you cards from church members.
There are days when i want to give up, go back into he computer industry and just let the spiritual world get on without me. But I haven’t yet. It’s not because of me, or anything I’ve done or am doing, it’s because God keeps drawing me back and refuses to let me go.