Why I Stick Around

In the last post, I introduced the thing with which I am wrestling these days.  It is not a life or death struggle…one that will either result in my fully embracing faith or chucking it for something else.  However, for someone reading this, it may be that kind of struggle.  It is for that reason, that I am endeavoring to be totally honest with my thoughts, questions, conflicts and seeking.

Have you ever doubted?  I mean…has the thought ever passed through your mind, what if all this stuff I believe is just a fairytale?  Now I know that sounds pretty strange, perhaps, coming from a pastor, but I’m just trying to be real here, right?  I once heard a minister/college professor/leader state that he’d never doubted anything about God, the Bible and his faith.  I thought…good for you…I think you’re the exception, not the rule.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had those thoughts go through my mind.  The good thing for me (perhaps) is that those thoughts never lingered there for long and it has never cropped up very often.  I can’t say that it isn’t for lack of having my world rocked.  That is usually when we get those doubts and ask the questions this series is asking, right?  I mean…my world was rocked as a new believer when my parents divorced when I was 12, my world was rocked when I witnessed my grandfather’s death in a very volatile and disturbing circumstance, my world was rocked in trying to figure out relationships in college, my world was rocked when learning to be a husband that knew how to be a husband, my world was rocked when having to face some addictive behaviors, my world was rocked while trying to come to terms with some very deep and personal issues that are too difficult to share here.  So the circumstances have been available to cause me to seriously question…”Why me God?,” or to say, “If God is love then why…?”–you get the picture.

Why I’ve Never Let Go

I suppose I’m aware that I have never seriously considered abandoning faith and doing my own thing, mostly because of God’s faithfulness more than my own.  Even as I write this, I sense that I’m sounding pretty “crazy” to those who are in the faith and not struggling right now in any way.  It’s okay…believe me…I’m good.  These thoughts are not indications that I am considering my options or that I’m weighing the pros and cons to make a decision.  These are the thoughts of someone who has already done that for the sake of faith, not for the sake of staying or leaving.  But…these are thoughts I think a lot of people wrestle with and sometimes lose in the battle…or at least with which they falter and stumble through life.  I want to share some of the things that God has shown, and is showing me, as I continue this journey.  He’s still doing that…thankfully.

Jesus Won’t Let Go of Me

Now I know that sounds pretty Calvinistic to my Arminian friends.  But…it’s in the Bible and it doesn’t have to be strictly one or the other of those theological views that capitalizes on it.  For my readers who have no idea what that just meant…don’t sweat it…it doesn’t matter.

The point is this…one of the reasons I’ve never let go of faith is because Jesus has never let go of me.  Even if I had ever really wanted to jump ship and run, He would pursue me like the “Hound of Heaven” wherever I was headed.  Now He still has given me a free will and I could, if I’m determined to do so, abandon Him completely, denounce my faith and head off into the darkness…but it wouldn’t be without a fight…a Holy Spirit fight, that is.  I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul (my emphasis added):

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

2 Timothy 1:12

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

I Have No Place Else to Go

Now I know that sounds pretty negative.  It’s like, “Okay, well I guess I’ll stay with Jesus ’cause there’s no better party in town.”  No…that’s not it.  It is the reality that as I look around and I see what everyone else has to offer, nothing else satisfies…or even makes sense.

In the Gospel of John, we have the record of Jesus teaching and sharing some really hard sayings about what it meant to follow Him.  It says that many of His disciples left and followed Him no more because they didn’t like what they were hearing…it was too “in your face.”  Upon seeing this happen, Jesus turned to his twelve closest disciples and asked…

John 6:67-69

…”Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter, in his peterish kind of way, spoke for the group and said a mouthful.  In essence he was saying, “Where else can we go?  You’re the only one who has what we need.”  He also stated a very important fact…they had come to “believe and know.”  That’s where I am.  In spite of the circumstances of life, whether I can answer all the questions or not, I have come to “believe and know” that Jesus is who He says He is and that has come through three things:

  1. The convincing power of God’s Spirit
  2. The door of my faith to allow Him in
  3. The experience I’ve had with Him

Take Heart

So…maybe your world is being rocked.  Perhaps you are weary in the grind and feel like giving up would be easier than keeping this whole faith thing going.  I simply say to you, “Take heart.”  As one traveler to another, I’ve been there and I know it’s tough, but I also know that the One who has redeemed you is also the One who is faithful to keep you and He has the words of eternal life.  No one else out there can do for  you what He is doing for you…even if you don’t get your questions answered.

Many times, as we read the story of Jesus in the gospels, we find Him coming on the scene and speaking the words, “Do not fear.”  I think, if you will listen closely enough, you will hear Him speak those words to you as well…and that will get you through the night.

9 thoughts on “Why I Stick Around”

  1. I heard Keller say once, referring to the Israelites who were passing through the Red Sea as it was parted: some were probably rejoicing saying, “Look how amazing our God is!” While others were likely going, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap” (my paraphrase of Keller). Which were saved from the coming Egyptians? Both! Because it’s not the quality of our faith that saves us. It’s the object. Grace to you, sir!

  2. When doubts arise (most often about myself)I go to my red letter edition and seek the words of Christ. Our small group just started “The Truth Project”. I’m excited about this study because It deals directly about what truth is relative to the world’s view of truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Most of us focus on “way” and “life” and not enough time cementing what is “truth”. We don’t want to face the black and white meanings of truth as Jesus taught. He asked a key question that we should all be forced to answer; “Who is your father?” When some said Moses, others Abraham, even some said “God.” Jesus basically said, “None of the above. Satan is your father because you have believed his lies and have yielded yourselves as his servants.” (Paraphrasing)….you get the point.
    Satan attacks where we are most vulnerable. Mostly in subtle ways convincing us that “you surely will not die” as he did with Adam and Eve. Sometimes in more aggressive ways leading us to be short-tempered and to even experience hatred toward perceived enemies. He comes to us in whatever way we give him the tiniest audience, and somehow magnifies it to a level of importance that causes us to have questions about our faith. I’m learning that when these times arise to praise my way back to Truth. I itemize how I know I’m forgiven; protected; covered; shielded; filled; empowered; accepted; adopted; LOVED!!! I know God inhabits the praise of His people. I know that Jesus is relentlessly persuing a personal relationship. I know that when He stands at the door and knocks that the door can only be opened from the inside. I do my best to leave that door open…and I have done my best to surrendered ownership of my “house” so Jesus is not merely a guest when He’s needed, but Master to a humble servant. Got to go ’cause I can’t see to write at this moment. Praise God for His presence and His warm embrace!

    1. Ah yes…His warm embrace! I’ve stood on a dark street corner and looked into the eyes of a dear friend who said, “Life is just really s____y right now.” I saw the emptiness in his eyes and heard the exhaustion of his voice. It is at those moments…where he was…that we may not “feel” that embrace. However, it is in that moment that I, as perhaps one of the few connections he still had with the faith he claims, looked him square in the eye to tell him in love and no uncertain terms, “Three things I know, because I’ve experienced it: God loves us, God is sovereign and God has a plan.”

      You wrote, “I’m learning that when these times arise to praise my way back to Truth. I itemize how I know I’m forgiven; protected; covered; shielded; filled; empowered; accepted; adopted; LOVED!!! I know God inhabits the praise of His people.” I was telling a Bible study class just Sunday that when we are at that point that we don’t know how to pray or what to pray…when God seems a million miles away and unconcerned…when we are a victim of our own choices…find a place to praise Him, even if you don’t feel like it. He will show up in that praise. Thanks for your comments and thoughtful processing, Ray!

  3. Sometimes it takes holding on to something simple for you to realize God loves you immensely. I was through a major depression, in where I thought I hated God. I didn’t think I would be at a place that low, but God has mercies everyday that are renewing.

    Another thing is is sometimes we need to be fighters. Putting on the full armour of God. But sometimes its difficult. Sometimes the armour is so big that we cant put it on ourselves. Sometimes we have a hard time being rescued…but He does! I can’t understand the richness of His forgiveness and I don’t understand why its so hard. It is. God always finds a way because He never gives us too much that we can’t handle and He is weird like that lol

    1. Yes!!! “Mercies every day that are renewing”…where would we be if not for that fact! Putting on the whole armor of God is necessary for our fight against sin and the flesh…the enemy. God is sufficient, for sure. Thanks for sharing, Matt.

  4. Jacob’s response made me laugh out loud! The human side of an impossible situation makes us a hero or a fool. A friend of mine preached a sermon many years ago entitled, “The Problem That’s Ahead of You Is the Answer to the One Behind!” He used the Red Sea as an illustration; the foreseen problem is the unseen solution. God is definitely weird THAT

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