What if He’s not real?

 

“What if He’s not real?” He asked, almost in a whisper, as if the question would offend me.

Pausing a moment to consider, I reached for another fry and decided the best reply was the truth. “I have had many doubts throughout my lifetime.”

He tilted his head, surprised, and interested in what I was going to say next.

“I would go as far to say that every Christian has had doubts, at least once. I mean, we’re human.. ”

“I may doubt,” I continued, pushing my plate aside and looking directly into his eyes. “But at the end of the day, my belief is bigger than my doubts.”

“Whenever I have had a season of doubt, God has faithfully and gently answered them in a way only He could. He has come through and done things that I have no other explanation for.”

Sharing our doubts..

I think something amazing happens when we are honest with unbelievers about our faith and our doubts. In those moments of honesty they see that this faith is all-inclusive, it’s not meant for the über religious. It’s meant for all of us doubters, sinners and skeptics. When we share how Jesus works in spite of our doubts, we give them encouragement to step into that faith for themselves.

I don’t believe we should “hide” the places where we struggle in our faith with the world. What would this prove? We are not perfect. Seeing our imperfections while we walk this road, shows them we are aware of our shortcomings and that Jesus is still the answer to them all.

 

Yes, Christians doubt.

We love Jesus, but we have moments of doubt because of this world we live in and our humanity. Maybe some of you can’t relate, but I know some of you absolutely can.

Within our church communities there needs to be a space for understating and encouragement while we share our struggles with doubt. We provide hope and lift each other up when we show how Jesus meets us in these rough places.

And really, doesn’t if feel like sweet relief when someone speaks out loud a fear you secretly have struggled with? It certainly does for me.

Why do we, as Christians, behave as though none of us struggle with this?

Because we do.

We doubt because we’re human.. and God isn’t holding it against us.

Everything I have learned about His character is that He longs to show us more of Himself and isn’t mad at us when we stumble into a pit of doubt.

Remember “doubting Thomas?” Did Jesus scold him and tell him how awful he was for doubting? Nope. He actually showed Himself to Thomas. He offered for him to look at His wounds, to inspect the evidence and then He called on him to make a choice.

I think many people are under the assumption that faith in Jesus Christ is a blind faith. It’s not, and this scripture proves that. He gives us evidence and then He asks us to make a choice based on that evidence.

“Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it in my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” John 20: 27

I have always loved his story within the bible. It’s just so me. I can completely relate to wanting proof. But more than this, there is a particular blessing from Jesus that is neatly tucked within in this story, meant just for us. 

“Thomas answered and said unto him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?”

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  

How beautiful is that? That’s for us, friend! Jesus spoke these words over 2,000 years ago about you and about me. There is a special blessing on us because we have specifically believed without seeing.

He absolutely knows our faith is hard. He knows it’s not easy to walk by faith and not by sight. He knows we will be tempted to doubt. And he’s not upset with us for that.

I doubt. I am a Christian. I believe in my Lord Jesus Christ, I love him. But I doubt.

In some of my darkest days of anxiety one of the greatest fears that nagged at me was the very question my unbelieving friend asked me.

What if He isn’t even real?

I have come to find that we have a God and a faith that can stand up to the questions we ask and the doubt struggles we have. Some of my greatest faith strengthening moments have come from Him meeting me in my times of doubt.

There are 6 words I pray when doubt enters my mind.

“I do believe, help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

I have whispered these words and He has answered in incredible ways. They carry  truth and power in the fight with doubt because we are coming to the only one that can cure our doubts.

And He is faithful to do so.

So, I suppose in the end, it’s not our questioning that matters. It’s what question are we asking?

The more important question isn’t, “What if He isn’t real?”

It is, “What if He is?”

The evidence is there to answer the question, each one for ourselves.

 

**Want to read more? John chapter 20 and Mark chapter 9 are the scriptures I mentioned in this post. Some other great scripture in times of doubt; John 4:39-42, John 14, Psalm 28:7, 1 Peter 1:8-12

 

Come check out this and other fantastic writers at the Salt & Light Link-up

 

 

“How do you know it will be ok?”

The scene is epic, an edge-of-your-seat thriller…for a 5-year-old.

Let me paint the picture for you if you’ve never seen Finding Nemo. (Or possibly only once and not 100 times like I have)

Dory and Marlin are in the mouth of a whale, after Dory spoke a little whalenese (yes, that’s a word) (no, it’s really not, but I like to keep you on your toes) to a whale for help, they end up sucked into its mouth. Anyway, they’re holding on for dear life to the tongue of the whale as it’s lifting it up to swallow.

Dory hears the whale give her the ok to go because remember, she speaks whalenese. So, she let’s go.

Marlin panics and grabs hold of Dory with one fin and the whales’ tongue with the other.

(Edge. Of. Your. Seat.)

“It’s time to let go, everything is going to be alright,” declares Dory.

Marlin shouts in reply, eyes wide, “How do you know?” “How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?”

“I don’t,” Dory says with a shake of her little fishy head.

That Dory.. she’s got some wisdom, am I right?

Control Issues

Something stands out to me every single time I watch this.

I’m a lot like Marlin. A lot. We’re pretty much pals, buds; *Fist/fin bump.

Both Marlin and I want to stay safe at all cost. We want assurance that absolutely nothing bad will happen before we choose to do it. We want control.

You see, if you’re anything like ol’ Marlin and me, anxiety and fear can tend to dictate our every choice.  This is especially true when it comes to situations where we have little to no control. We like control. No, we LOVE control.

Let me give you an example. I don’t enjoy flying. I actually hate flying. I mean, come on,  it’s just not natural. We’re not meant to be 30,000 feet up in the air. With our loved ones. In a tin can. With a seat belt (like that’s going to help.)

In this situation I am Marlin, sweating bullets, waiting to board and asking, “how do you know nothing bad is going to happen?” My best buddy, anxiety, is always so eager to whisper, “Let’s just stay local and save yourself the possible bad outcome. ”

Aw, isn’t that just thoughtful, he’s really looking out for me.

With anxiety and fear comes an intense need to control. If I could just see the future and that plane landing safely than we’d be good! Hand me my ticket and I’ll be skipping down the ramp, whistlin’ Dixie.

But when I don’t know the outcome? Well, I better just stay back where I’m safe and nothing bad can happen. Let’s not go bursting our little comfort bubble that anxiety has carefully put in place.

The funny thing about anxiety is that it promises you freedom, but in reality, your world grows a little smaller each time you listen to it. There have been so many times I’ve been so terrified of the outcome that I’ve simply walked away.

And I’ve regretted it. Every. Single. Time.

Where do you seek to control?

Maybe for you, it’s not a plane, maybe you’re fine with heights.. (weirdo.) I’m totally kidding. I’m just jealous you can get on a plane without a panic attack.

All kidding aside because I know how awful it feels to have anxiety control you.  Maybe for you, it’s allowing your kids to go somewhere without you, sending them to a friends’ house or camp. Something bad could happen to them and how would you handle that? Worse yet, it’d be your fault. Better to keep them home where it’s safe.

Maybe it’s taking a job or moving, what if you make the wrong choice? Better to stay where you are.

What about that desire that you’ve had tucked in your heart for years to go out and try? But what if you fail? Better to not try at all.

Or quite possibly you’re like I was years ago when even the everyday things were a challenge. Maybe you’re so caught in anxiety that it feels scary to even go outside or to socialize.. or to be alone. Maybe every day is just terrifying.

If this is the case, can I just say, I’m sorry. I really, really am. I know how it feels. I wish I could reach through this screen and give you a hug.

Please hear me when I say this;

It does get better.

I promise.

I have lived with debilitating anxiety, panic and depression. I have learned to fight it one lie at a time and because of this, I stand before you a different woman today. But it did not happen overnight.

Let me tell you one little thing that I have learned that has helped me with this controlling, anxious nature that seems to cling to me.

I do it anyway. And I do it afraid.

There are literally countless stories in the bible of people who “did it afraid.” I don’t have time to share all of them here, but let me give you one little snippet from the life of Paul the Apostle.

“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without and fears within..” 2 Cor. 7:5

Did you catch that? “Fears within.” Paul was not immune to the feelings that we feel. He had fears within. But did he stop? No, he didn’t. He did it afraid.

Whether you’re out preaching for the Lord in dangerous situations or simply trying to make it through your day. Continue to do it, and do it afraid if you have to.

We may do it afraid, but we don’t do it alone.

There’s no guarantee that nothing bad will happen and that is a scary place to be when you know the whole control thing is really just an illusion. In fact, Jesus said bad things will happen. But you know what else he said

“..in Me you have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I find myself in a situation that frightens me, I look at it as a fork in the road. Anxiety calls me in one direction and Jesus calls me in the other.

I have a choice..

It might look scary walking the way Jesus is calling me, but I can tell you this, I have never once regretted it. Not once. And I can say confidently that neither will you. If you trust Him with who he says he is, then you can trust that he is in control. We may not know the future and every possible outcome, but He does.

This world is scary and uncertain, there’s just no way around it. Bad, scary things happen. But Jesus overcame it.

Believing in Jesus is being in Jesus.

That my friend makes you an overcomer. He overcame it, so you have overcome it.

That is true control.

Take some time to think about this. He wants you to know the peace that He bought with His life. It’s yours, just like that. You don’t have to do a single thing. Just believe.

You will feel afraid.  Anxiety isn’t going to just up and walk away. But when you know who you are and whose you are, life just doesn’t look as scary anymore. The more you believe and the more you choose Him over the anxiety, the more you will feel the peace He promises.

Bottom line, the more you face the fear the more it backs down.

That’s what I mean by doing it anyway and doing it afraid. Let Him prove himself to you. Choose the scary and He’ll meet you there. I promise.

But more importantly, He promises.

Thankfully, for us anxious folks, we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to “jump” and just chance it. We can jump and know with certainty that He has a plan and it is perfect, no matter what.

I long to be like Dory, when Jesus says, “it’s time to let go.”

I want to reply with a leap.  

My greatest goal is to trust beyond my fear and all the, “what if’s” and “worst case scenarios.” When I’m wanting to control, I strive to look to the one that is in control. To simply trust Him enough with my very being that I just jump.

He is faithful, you know. He is. I’ve seen it first hand. Let’s hold fins, trust Him and jump. What do ya say?

 

What frightens you? What situation is causing you to fear and want to back out because you don’t have control?

**Stay with me awhile, I’ll be sharing about His faithfulness in my life through anxiety. This is one of many posts that I’ll be working on in the next few weeks in overcoming anxiety. 

 

 

 

Take Courage

I am well acquainted with fear.. and it’s close friend, anxiety. As I look back over most of my life these two have been my constant companions. When control was out of my reach, fear was close at hand. When answers were unclear and I wasn’t quite sure which way to turn, anxiety had a perfectly rational explanation.

Every. Single. Time.

It’s always made sense to run with the fear that was in my heart and mind, it was over-powering. It was the oppressor in my daily life that I just could not seem to shake. It followed me around and demanded I hand over my peace and rest like a schoolyard bully demands your lunch money.

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Fear yells.. I mean, it just screams. You can’t possibly hear anything else when it’s siren is so loud in your mind.. at least that’s what fear wants you to believe.

Truth doesn’t shout, not at first anyways.

Fear always seems to shout. It comes at you with a fierceness that is piercing, confusing and almost always loud. Fear demands our attention, I believe, more than any other emotion. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, fear, panic, or any synonym that closely relates to the aforementioned words, you know exactly what I’m saying. When you are so deep into the pit of despair that fear causes, when someone speaks truth to you it can sound barely audible, like a faint, far away whisper. The shouts and incessant clanging of the lies that surround you in that pit can be all-consuming and life sucking.

When you hear that little whisper behind the leers and shrieking of the demons that shake their chains in your face;

.Listen, I mean, really listen..

 because after all, even the loudest shout sounds like a whisper when you’re at the bottom of a pit.

Once you listen, once you open your ears to that truth, don’t let go of it. Grab onto that truth with both hands, and no matter how bloodied they become, don’t let go until that truth whisper becomes a shout. Hold on while you feel the fear falling away into the darkness of the pit as you are being pulled up by the rope of truth.

Hold on friend.. Be brave enough in that moment to grab hold and listen.

It’s scary when fear is screaming at you in the face, isn’t it? When I’m in that place, I tilt my head a little to the right,  just past fear’s hideous face and I see Jesus.. walking on the water..

Take courage..

In Matthew 14, after a day of ministering and feeding over five thousand people, Jesus put his disciples on a boat and sent them off to the other side while He went up on the mountain to pray. In the early morning hours after the disciples had been out on the water for hours, Jesus came walking on the water to them. The text reads that when the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them on the sea they thought it was a ghost or a spirit. Uh.. yeah, I’d be shaking in my boots also. But I just love Jesus’ answer, depending on what version you read, his basic words were this;

“Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.”

In some translations there is no exclamation point after take courage, but I like to think that Jesus spoke with the emphasis that the exclamation point adds. Take courage! I just love this. I imagine Jesus effortlessly walking upon the waves and coming towards the boat as the disciples are terrified at this phantom gliding towards them. And what does Jesus say? He says take courage.

It’s the words I bring to the forefront of my mind when fear is screaming at me. It gives me the perspective I need in that moment to look past fears ugly face and stare at truth.. The truth that He is with me, I’m not alone in this and I am His.

And you know what? I like to think that’s why Jesus said take courage before he said do not be afraid.

Because it takes courage to not be afraid..

It’s not exactly easy to not take the fear route. It’s hard. Especially if you’re anything like me and it’s hard-wired in you to just be afraid. It takes patience, perseverance and practice. Jesus knew that.. that’s why he said it.

Fear and anxiety don’t exactly like to retreat easily but I’ll tell you this, in the presence of Jesus even the ugliest fear screams can’t stand. That’s truth, it’s rock solid ground to stand on when fear makes you shake in your boots.

So, take courage my friends. Do not be afraid, listen to this whisper of truth if you are currently in a pit; you are His, He is with you and you are held. Look past the ugly screeching and before you know it the truth of Jesus will be shouting louder than the fear.

 

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”