My parents and I spent fall break in Abingdon, Virginia, and journeyed seventeen miles down a mountain via bike on the spectacular Virginia Creeper Trail.
As a person who was raised in church and who currently attends a Christian university, I laughed when I saw the name of the small town we ended up in–Damascus, Virginia.
In the Christian scriptures, a religious extremist named Saul is traveling to Damascus to kill Christians when a light blinds him and he encounters Jesus.
Saul was a scholar and devout man: it would seem that he trying to be his best to please God. But when we strip away his cultural presumptions about God, we can easily see that his brutal persecution of Christians was wrong and, in fact, counter to what God was doing at that time.
I’m constantly haunted by fears about this sort of thing.
What if the things I think I know about God aren’t actually consistent with His character? How do I know I’m not just making a god in my own image? What if the reason I’m a Christian is only because of the country and time I was born and the family that raised me?
Or the scariest of them all: what if I just made all of this up?
We could ask these questions forever, rationalizing our beliefs away as nothing but unfounded or unreasonable, but the simple fact is that we can’t and won’t ever understand all that is God.
That’s the beauty of faith: giving into something bigger than your own understanding.
I’ve learned to find confidence in a God who won’t zap me if, in the end, one detail of my doctrine is incorrect. I’ve surrendered to a force that could judge or condemn me if He wished but instead, out of the overflowing love of His heart, embraces and reassures me.
Study and striving for understanding are almost a good thing, but at some point, we must accept the leading of our spiritual eyes and follow our flashlight of trust in the dark unknown, one step at a time.
My favorite podcast at the moment is from Michael Gungor’s project, The Liturgists. In the most recent episode, liturgist Science Mike said this (which I absolutely love):
“The opposite of faith is not doubt: it’s certainty. What need do the certain have for faith?”
As I was coasting down that mountain on my way to Damascus, my revelation didn’t come in a flash of light but instead of peaceful echo in my mind: “You have to trust my ability to speak more than your ability to listen.”
Paul gave finding God his most religious efforts, but it wasn’t until God found him that he actually changed. Let’s have faith that, in the midst of our doubt and our doctrine, that Jesus will reveal Himself to us.
I’m almost done with my 31 Days of Unexpected Spiritual Encounters. You can catch up on the rest of the series here.