For God and Adventure

I’m not used to being the townie.

I’m used to raised eyebrows, exclamations of surprise, and “You’re from California? What brought you here?”

Today, I found myself in the most international classroom I’ve ever been in before, and it was in my hometown. Switzerland, the UK, Poland, Russia, Australia, Canada, China, India, Brazil, and Italy were all represented, with more than a few far-reaching states filling out the numbers.

I felt like I was home, that I had more in common with these people than I do with those who have always lived here and probably always will. I’m not as traveled as some, but I’m traveled enough. Enough for my heart to leap when the girl in front of me says she’s from Finland … when one of my teachers talks about her experiences living in China … when I hear an English accent.

People to dream with. People to reminisce with. People to stretch my wings with, as we gaze into the four corners of the future, hands clasped as we prepare for the day when we will fly.

Because fly we must.

For God and adventure.

Exploring Doubt, Part 2

While this blog is most immediately a follow-up to my last blog, Doubt, the Uneasy Visitor, it so happens that I wrote a blog about doubt two years ago as well, which complements both of these.

More than one hundred people were in Coventry, England, for a DTS Gathering that week in early spring. I was one of them. We worshiped together, listened to inspiring speakers, then stepped out into the city each day to bring the love of Jesus to people in all sorts of ways.

That’s when doubt hit me. I suppose it had been growing for awhile, but the stresses and challenges of this new, unfamiliar environment brought them to the forefront of my heart in a more isolating, painful way than ever before. One night, I found myself wracked with despair and swallowed sobs as I lay on my makeshift bed on the church floor. It was one of the darkest nights of the soul I have ever experienced.

I kept my struggle largely to myself for the rest of the week, but when I finally opened up with others on my team after we returned to our base, our home, well, it was the best thing I could’ve done. The prayers, the knowledge that I wasn’t alone in this, and the honest conversations brought clarity and comfort as we prepared to go on outreach. But that wasn’t the end of it.

As I shared my faith on outreach with individuals and groups, I found doubt creeping back into my life. “Do you really believe what you’re trying to get others to believe?” it asked in its hissing, accusatory way.

But there was a difference between the first attack and this second one. My relationship with God was stronger this time around. I had been learning what it meant to rely on God, to bring everything to Him. So I brought my doubts to Him, I talked with others sooner than later, and, all in all, I learned through experience the right way to deal with doubt.

Here’s some of what I learned:

  • Go on the offensive against doubt, starting with your strongest ally: God. Pray against the doubt and ask God for more of Him. Seek God even when the feelings aren’t there, even when you feel like you just don’t have enough faith. Because faith, like love, isn’t a feeling, but a choice.
  • Doubt can be a lonely battle, but it doesn’t have to be! Be real with other people (as well as God) about what you’re going through, and get their advice and prayers. Don’t just stay in your own mind, introspective and alone. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy.
  • The worst thing you can do when you struggle with doubt and unbelief is to pretend that you aren’t struggling, that everything’s okay, because then you’ll really start going through the motions and feeling like a hypocrite. Eventually, it will build and build until it explodes in a crisis of faith. Recognize the signs and learn how to deal with it early on.
  • Remember what God has done in your life and in others’ lives in the past. Just because He doesn’t feel real now doesn’t nullify everything you’ve seen Him do.
  • If you grew up in a Christian home, recognize that it’s normal to wrestle with and question what you’ve always been told is true. That’s part of making your faith your own. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, but don’t stop there. Struggle well.

It’s not about manufacturing feelings that feel like faith, but coming to God as you are, and seeking Him, and asking Him for more of Himself.

Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me [God] and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”