Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Freedom to Doubt

Somewhere in my church journey I internalized the idea that doubt would undermine my salvation, and I should, therefore, only ask certain questions. I got the impression that one should be certain about Christianity; not just founded or convinced, but iron-clad, closed case, proof positive certain. I remember sitting in Dr. Lunde's office begging, insisting that there had to be a way to be certain. After all, my immortal soul, not to mention the souls of all humanity, hung in the balance. Committing to follow Christ is one of the biggest risks that any human can take, shouldn't certainty be on the table? A very frustrated Dr. Lunde replied that I only needed enough certainty to act. I only need enough to move and trust and risk.

This is a critical distinction. It certainly has been and will continue to be formative in my journey. It helps me to be able to ask questions that my younger self considered taboo. And, while asking these questions, to be able to trust Christ. I don't have to be certain about Christ, just sure enough to risk action. I can ask where God is in the death of my dear friend's daughter. I can ask how it is possible that a God who tenderly offered to gather Israel like chicks under His wings can possibly be the same God who caused the earth to open up and swallow people whole. And I can ask these things while depending on His guidance for a job, for a spouse, for the daily care of my emotions. I need His tenderness and I need His correction, and I can lean into that need and expose myself to the possibility that there might be an actual response on the other end of that need precisely because I don't have to be sure. If I had to be sure I would never move beyond self-protection. I would never cease to have a question that was valid or a reason that I should not trust a God I cannot see.

Instead, the distinction between faith as certainty and faith as risk frees me to ask myself "What do I know about this God? And is He worth the risk in this situation?" This allows me the space to have just enough information to try trusting God, to walk the next step, to put myself out there and see what I encounter. It allows me to move and to get to know this God more and more as I go as opposed to needing to know everything before moving at all. It is a much needed freedom.

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