Friday, April 11, 2008

The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.
Pierre Abelard

Many things happened today that could be a blog post all on their own. Titles would include: "Things Gabe Dropped in the Toilet Today," "Why 4 Kids are More Fun than Three" (Kenna's friend has been here since Wed. night), "Clean to Chaos in 3.5 Seconds," "Unusual Names I have been Called This Week," "Dan: Superdad," and "Things that Weigh Heavy on my Heart."

However, the things that would be included in a post bearing the last title have taken away my ability to be light-hearted, even though my family does bring me so much joy. And, out of respect, I cannot even say much about what is so troubling. As has been the case since I was very young, I need to write. It's a tremendous release for me, as art, music, running, and leisure are for others. 

What to write about.

Last Sunday Sean talked about doubts. I learned there is something called "Thomas Sunday" after the apostle Thomas who could not believe that he was seeing the Risen Christ until he saw the scars from the nails and the spear (see text at end). Sean's point that stuck out the most to me was Jesus' reaction to Thomas' doubt. He did not condemn him, or tell him he had no faith. He showed him His hands, His side. He gave him the proof he requested. That's incredible. Could it be that God is okay with my doubts? That He is not wounded when I cannot wrap my brain around His perfection, His character, His infinite mercy and forgiveness? According to the interaction between Christ and Thomas, it's true. 

I also learned that I am blessed, as is anyone who believes without seeing. I find that amusing, because I have seen, just not in the way Thomas did. I have seen who I was, and who I am in Christ. I have seen other lives changed, and seen the way God is personally, intimately involved in my life and in others'. I have seen, if not like Thomas did, who God is and what He has done. I have no doubt there, not a one.

At my small group I learned that many do doubt God, why things happen, what He allows, if He is real. As a young student I knew there was a Creator, I knew He was all powerful and that His justice was truly the only one that mattered. The problem then was that I had no idea WHO He was. The name Jesus did not mean much to me, and the God I was sure existed felt very far away, uninterested in me.

The Bible has opened up a whole world for me. It has revealed to me who God is, what He is all about, and what His justice is that I knew existed. The Word of God shows me that God is powerful, mighty, everywhere, infinite, eternal, just, and holy--so holy that sin cannot enter His presence. 

In many ways, I never doubt any of that. I knew it before I knew Him, and thus it has always been a truth in my life.

So what do I doubt, if not God.


I doubt me. 

I doubt that God could ever, possibly use me. I doubt that He would desire to save me. I doubt that He is pleased with anything I do. I doubt that I am capable of serving Him in any real capacity.

But within the pages of God's Word--which I know to be true to a word, as I have studied, questioned, checked and rechecked them--I also learned that God is Love. He does not simply love, He does not only give love--He IS Love. And because He is Love, He gives therefore so many other things.

He grants mercy--not giving us what we deserve, an eternity apart from His love. He forgives. Not once, not sometimes, not when we are good enough to merit forgiveness. He forgives those who will accept His forgiveness freely, continually, and without fail. He flows grace--giving us what we do not deserve. He disciplines--as I discipline my children, not punishment but correction, for their good, and for their safety. He allows people to be His messengers, His hands and feet. He orchestrates lives, not so that we will be without pain, or without trial, but so that we might see His hand guide us, and so that His glory is magnified. He lets us choose. He does not force anyone into anything, He does not make us robots. We make real choices, and see real consequences, good and bad. And yet He is not taken by surprise, nor is He ever left confused.

In light of that, I doubt me. I doubt that I could gain such love, mercy and forgiveness. I doubt that He could ever find a way to use me to be a part of His plan.

Writing that, I see it makes no sense. How can I know so much to be true and yet doubt that He could extend His love to me? I don't know, but I do. 

I have learned one more thing, this one through experience. I can love others, because He loves me. I can truly love, because He has truly loved. I have learned how to go the extra mile for someone, because Christ went to the cross for me. Sacrificing something for someone else is not hard when I consider what God sacrificed for me. Patience with others, which is not my natural talent, has become the norm for me, because He remained faithfully patient with me.

I may never rid my heart of doubt. I may never grasp in full that He love me, even though He sees more of me than I do.  But I know His love, I see it, and I can pass that on to others. 

If you think of it this weekend, pray for God's love to abound in my words and my actions. It's important. 

John 20:24-30

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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