Some people come to faith, to an overwhelming conviction that leads to quick and confident belief, easily. Such faith may occur at the end of one’s messed-up self, by surviving a trauma, or in the quiet of an uneventful but supportive upbringing. Then there are those whose faith in salvation is sure, but arrived amidst question and answer, doubt and discovery—through mind-grappling if you will. I must admit, I am one of the latter. I often wish I could quiet the questions and just allow faith to take over; but that was not the way with me, still is not to some extent.
I always assumed I needed to get things straight first; that I could not come to God with a confused or even conflicted mind. It had not occurred to me that this is pride and an obstacle to full surrender. I know I am not alone! The Enemy does his best work here. He can twist our questions into doubts and our quest for knowing God into prideful knowledge-seeking. Solomon made this mistake. God gave him wisdom and knowledge, but Solomon looked to the world for meaning, so his mind and heart were pulled away to other gods. We must stay aware, always turning to Scripture and God in prayer. God is, after all, the Creator and Author. He is the Giver of Faith. He not only has the answers, God longs for us to ask Him the questions and to rest in whatever answers He deems appropriate.
Our relationship with God is, not to be redundant, relational. It is a spirit-indwelling, not just an intellectual exercise. This is the crux of the matter—our faith is a gift received from God: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, ESV). And God keeps on giving to us through ongoing sanctification from personal study, holy listening, and communal learning. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) precedes a long list of biblical figures, who may have stumbled over questions but who pressed on BY FAITH: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Scripture has a way of satisfying the variety and multitude of needs in our faith journey. I have known people who do just come to faith naturally, but then strive for the words to converse with unbelievers’ questions. My husband is one such believer—one who has matured in his uncomplicated, certain faith with no doubt in his future, just a desire to live and communicate the truth of God well in the present.
Then there is me. Anyone else sometimes long for an uncomplicated faith? The miracle is that Scripture speaks to us both! The supernatural power of God’s revealed Word answers our questions, informs our thinking, frames our conversations, quiets our fears and doubts, and instills a hope and peace worth experiencing rather than examining. I have found that my questions and struggles, when brought humbly to the Cross, have served to deepen my love for God. Each time the Spirit guided me to biblical answers to my questions, rather than settling for worldly answers I experienced an eternal joy beyond any satisfaction gained from gathering knowledge. My love for the God I can know, even through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12),has deepened and grown exponentially as He has admonished and answered, corrected and commended my inquisitive nature.
And so I pray for myself and my family this prayer with Paul: that [we], being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19, ESV).
I am so grateful for the example set by Paul, who did not lean on his own understanding but always turned to God for direction; and for people like Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, and some who have gone to the Father: C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, and more recently Ravi Zacharias whose mission was in “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.” All these individuals needed to make head connections before, during, and after their hearts were pierced. Make no mistake—what counted was the piercing of their hearts, the conviction in their souls that only God’s love and His Son could answer their sin problem. Faith is still a leap. Questions still exist. Whether it is heart then mind or mind then heart, it comes down to a matter of trust: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV).
What do faith-gifted friends and doubting Thomases have in common? LOVE. A love that first loved us and made it possible for us to love in return. My husband and others like him have grown beyond initial faith in the existence of their Savior, to a deep love for a God who would send His Son in the first place. Over time I have realized the gift this mind-grappling can be when submitted to the Savior instead of listening to the Deceiver. I can rest in the answers the Spirit grants through Scripture. In that rest I have discovered a profound love for a God who relentlessly pursues, persuades, and provides. For the answer to the “Why?” I need look no further than Isaiah 43:4, which is echoed to all of us throughout Scripture: “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” Incredible; but Gospel Truth!