As some people may or may not know, I grapple with aspects of faith. I’m a skeptic, a doubter, by nature. I’d probably make a great atheist. I may be unique among Christians in that I think doubt can be a powerful and positive thing. I would encourage any Christian to doubt their salvation, or that the Bible is true, or that Christ even existed at all, let alone rose from the dead. Doubt everything. Ask the tough questions. Ask the questions other Christians don’t want you to ask. How could God order the Israelites to slaughter babies? Is God capable of hatred, and if not, how could He claim to “hate” Esau? And if he hated Esau, and if hate is a sin, can God sin? Moses was described as the most humble person on the planet…by Moses. Could that have been a little personal embellishment, and if so, where else does that exist? (looking at you, “disciple that Jesus loved!”)
If Christianity hadn’t been taught to you, and you had just picked a Bible up…would you believe any of this nonsense? And don’t pretend it’s not nonsense. If I showed up at church one day and someone asked how my week was, and I told them, “It was fine. I got swallowed by a alligator and it spit me out in Chalmette,” what would you say? Nonsense. If someone asked how home life was, and I said, “Jake (our dog) was bad this week, but when I tried to punish him, he started talking and we had a conversation about it,” what would your reaction be? Nonsense. The Bible believing faithful reading this should be able to pick up on the symbolism there.
A wise person once said that if you question your beliefs, one of two things will happen: you’ll either change your view, or your current view will be strengthened. On the contrary, whoever said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it,” probably wasn’t thinking it all the way through. At no point in scripture does God advise blind ignorance. It’s quite the opposite.
1 Thessalonians 5:21: Test all things.
1 John 4:1: Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, that they are from God.
These are just two examples, but there are more. So follow the Bible’s teachings, faithful, and start testing things! The path of doubt is for the few and the brave.
Why am I harping on all of this? Because it has been during my greatest moments of doubt – my greatest moments of, “What the hell, God?” – that He has given me answers that defy coincidence and rock me to the core. And it makes sense. To ask God for explanations is to seek, and if you seek, you will find. To seek means to actively search, not to sit back and believe for the sake of believing. Seek ye first the kingdom of God.
I’ve had three true, “Wow, God,” moments in my life, two of which came from sheer doubt and one of which was just unexpected. The first had to do with ants, and I am only just now realizing that it’s not on this blog, but on a Facebook note I wrote back in 2009…so I’ll have to post it here sometime soon. The unexpected one had to do with Lowe’s. Yes, the store, and no, I haven’t written about that one anywhere (but I sure will now). The third, and subsequently the subject of this entry, happened today. As in a few hours ago. So let’s begin.
When I got home from work, my wife said Jake was sniffing something in the back yard that looked like a broken egg. I went outside with a shovel. It was a broken egg. I picked it up with the shovel and chunked it over the fence. I Googled what kind of egg it was. It was a sparrow egg. I went outside the fence to find it. I couldn’t find it. I found turtle eggs. This series of events shook my soul.
That’s the gist. Here come the details.
Today, a dear friend of mine from Louisiana College was laid to rest. She was 31 years old, the life of every room she walked into, and a faithful believer in Christ. In learning of her passing, I also learned of another dear college friend who passed away. He was also young, and he was also a Christian warrior. Prayers had been lifted up for them both. Praises to God were shared. “Three or more” were gathered. Both passed away, anyway. Did God not hear? Did He not care? How could he extinguish two lives lived for him, without rhyme or reason, so terribly, terribly soon? Do we even matter to Him? Doubt.
This was the conversation I had with myself (and God) on my way back to work, where I finished a 12-hour shift then returned home. For contextual purposes, you need to understand that this is all taking place during a period of intense doubt in my life as to the things of Heaven. Intense doubt. “Why do I believe any of this?” doubt.
Good, good, good doubt.
When I arrived home, my wife told me about the egg. I didn’t think anything of it; I just filed it down as “one of them things.” I went outside, shoveled the thing over the fence, then went inside to look it up out of curiosity. Sitting on my couch, I Googled the small, brown, speckled egg. It was easy to identify. It was the egg of a sparrow.
My brain was searching through decades of Sunday School lessons.
…his eye is on the sparrow…
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
I sat back on the sofa and just stared. He answered my question. Not with someone saying a verse, or with a sense of tired resignation. With a verse coming to me. An egg has never fallen from a tree in our yard before. But today, a sparrow egg did. Just in time for Jake to find it, just in time for me to get home. Just in time to give me an answer that I would comprehend…a personal, made-for-me answer, based on the book I had been struggling with. A little bit of, “It’s okay, Lee. Just keep reading and believing.” The encouragement I needed.
My dear friends from college passed away for a purpose. God was not looking at their lives lightly. He timed the fall of a sparrow egg so perfectly…how much more did he care about their passing? Too soon, it may have seemed to us. But it was exactly when it needed to be for a plan we happen to not be privy to. How incredibly much God loved them to care so much about when they came to Him. Doubt removed.
I got up off the sofa, telling my wife I needed to go outside for a while just to walk, as God was saying something to me. I distinctly said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going digging for turtle eggs (something I love to do!).” I walked outside, looking at those verses in Matthew on my iPhone. I decided to see if I could find the egg I threw over the fence. So I walked over to where I tossed it.
I found turtle eggs.
Okay, God, what the heck?
There was a lesson in that, too, and another loud and clear message from above. “Don’t think you know what is or isn’t coming – this is My plan, not yours.” Relinquish concern. Just move. Don’t be pessimistic. God knows the desires of your heart. He knew, more than anything, I want to find turtle eggs in my yard right now. He used this moment to show me some. The eggs were broken – they’d recently hatched – but that didn’t matter. The lesson was the same. Doubt removed.
But I hadn’t gone to the fence to find turtle eggs, did I? I went to find that sparrow egg. That little miracle message, from God to me. And I could not find it anywhere. I walked. I crawled. I dug through the grass. I had tossed it right there. How could it completely vanish? There was no physical evidence to corroborate my story. There was no egg to show someone and say, “this was the egg!” The power of this story was not in tangible things I could put my fingers on…it was in my testimony. I would be asking people to believe what had happened by faith.
In a series of sudden, left-right-left-right spiritual jabs, God saved the most powerful for last. “Some things, Lee, you won’t be able to prove with evidence. You just have to believe.” Like a certain book He just referred me to that talks about sparrows. Doubt obliterated.
Nonsense? Maybe to those who weren’t there. Maybe for those without the right context, or who have never experienced such things before. Maybe to the casual observer. But for me? Well…God said it. I believe it. That settles it.
Doubt is not the enemy of faith. It’s the breeder of certainty. Sometimes, we just need a little, “God, I’m having a hard time believing this…please explain it to me,” in our lives. Sometimes a little doubt is all it takes to truly believe.
My wife encouraged me to write this entry tonight so that I wouldn’t forget the details, and I’m glad she did. It wasn’t exactly an Epic-related entry, but that’s all right. A time for Epic will return. For the time being…I’m going to enjoy my strengthened faith.
Till next time!