Doubts and Mistrust

April 12, 2009 at 7:44 am 2 comments

Doubts and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer and the large mind transcend. -Helen Keller

When it comes to having seen Jesus in the flesh, I am blind – I have not seen Jesus, I have not put my finger where the nails were. But yet, I believe. One of my favorite resurrection stories is from the end of the Gospel of John Chapter 20 (The Message)

Later on that day (Resurrection Sunday), the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.

The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

Even after believing and celebrating Easter for almost my entire life, there are still days when, like Thomas, I have my doubts. Today I choose to conquer those doubts and trust in a reality that transcends what I can touch, see or feel. That reality is the kingdom of God.

For me, the kingdom of God is the realm where heaven intersects and overlaps with earth, where we can hear God’s voice and live in relationship with God and make a difference in the world. When I talk about the intersection of heaven and earth, as well as an overlap, I wonder, was there ever a time when heaven and earth were not separate. Perhaps when God created the heavens and the earth, they were seamless – possibly with earth existing wholly within the realm of heaven. God created us within this realm, and freely moved with his creation on this garden planet. Perhaps his presence was accessible everywhere. For many of us, we want a timeline for this period – was it a day, a year, 100 years? Adam’s age is given at the time Seth was born as 180 years and his full life span was 930 years. We have no record of what “age” Adam was when he was created – was he created from the dust as an adult? One thing we can presume from the Biblical text is that Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the garden and that they were naked and unashamed in the presence of God and in the presence of one another and in the presence of talking animals. (Genesis 1-3)

Can I imagine these things to be true? Even though I have not seen these things, I was not there, can I trust this God who creates all that is good yet allows life and death – good and evil to co-exist? Is there a way of life that is worth living?

Today, as I remember and believe the Resurrection of Jesus, I affirm that there is a way worth living and a person worth following. I choose to follow Jesus as his cooperative friend living a life of created goodness in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of others. (From Christianity Beyond Belief, Todd Hunter)


Entry filed under: dispair. dark, faith.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim Battle  |  July 20, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Elizabeth —

    I haven’t been by your blog in a long while, but I thought to stop by tonight (nothing like having work to do to remind you to take time doing more carefree things). I’m glad to see you are still searching in earnest, and writing so nakedly and thoughtfully.

    In most complex endeavors, having doubt rooted in humility (not fear) is a good thing, an acknowledgment of past failures and a desire to not repeat them.

    As you know, I am a non-believer. A kind-hearted believer might pity me, and suspect that I’m a poorer person for not seeing God’s presence all around me.

    But what I conclude from your penultimate paragraph is your faith (a.k.a. belief in a reality that transcends what you can touch, see or feel) has somehow robbed you of an appreciation of the here and now. You asked, “Is there a way of life that is worth living?”, presumably in absence of God.

    There is the famous argument known as Pascal’s Wager, which you undoubtedly have heard: one might as well believe in God, for if he doesn’t exist, one hasn’t lost much, but if He does exist, your belief will be worth the investment. It’s a truly cynical argument, but there are people whose “faith” is based on it.

    Well, how about inverting Pascal’s Wager? Whether or not God is there after we die, for now you are here on Earth, so make the most of it. Don’t discount the beauty and pleasures of the worldly plane because they don’t measure up to the perfect never ending glory promised in the afterlife.

    So in answer to your question, “”Is there a way of life that is worth living?” [without faith], I assure you there are many millions of people who are living it, happily.

  • 2. Elizabeth Chapin  |  July 21, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Jim, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Yes, I have heard of Pascal’s wager and you have rightly determined one of the problems many Christians experience with that kind of thinking – they neglect the reality of the here and now. Certainly there may have been times when I have neglected to live in the moment or focused too much on the hope of life after death, but for the most part I strive to appreciate God at work in my everyday circumstances and hope to make this present world a better place. Your argument is a good one – let’s invert that wager and see what happens.

    A friend of mine wrote a book where he challenges the notion of Christians asking the question, “What if you were to die tonight?” And instead asks, “What if you were to live tomorrow?” I referenced this book at the end of my post. In essence, it turns Pascal’s wager on it’s head as you suggest.


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