How to Doubt

Every night I peek in the garage to make sure the garage door is closed. Then I glance at the front lock and the back lock. After perusing the kids bedrooms to turn out errant lights and music, I head safely to bed.

Everyone pays when I don’t do it. Snuggled all cozy in bed, I’ll ask did you check the back door? That’s always a fun marriage question. No one wants to check it, that’s what the question is all about. I’m not sure. Are you sure? If you’re sure, I can be a little surer, but not completely sure. The preferred response asker wants is always, always…that the other person goes and checks.

That, my friends, is what multicultural books call indirect communication.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad that I don’t want to check…but not bad enough to go check. Lest I not properly warn those thinking about marriage, this question has many forms. Locks, babies, water faucets, lights, and coffeemakers are all eligible subjects of this annoying habit.

Now, don’t you want to get married?

But what about when it comes to doubt that goes deeper than a visual spot check? Doubts about God. Questions about future direction in life. Qualms about how honest someone is being with you. All these eject us into much murkier territory emotionally.IMG_1282

For me, doubting has come in many forms. Doubting my faith is less my thing than doubting whether God is going to take care of me or my family. My questions about God has of yet to plunge me into an existential crisis. I’m no philosopher. In fact, I just looked up existential crisis on wikipedia to make sure I was using it correctly!

So, when I doubt God, its not like doubting whether my garage door is closed or not. You can’t just go look and say, oh, God’s good because I can see x, y, or z has happened. There’s a lot of ways to explain away the good in life or get stuck on the evil we all experience to differing degrees. Doubts don’t seem to just go away.

So, how should we doubt?

  • Face to Face. Its tempting to discuss my doubts at length with others, to live in the philosophical, to totally twist my mind in knots on my own without ever addressing my issues to God Himself. If I’m to cast my cares on God, to pray without ceasing, to not worry but pray, then it makes sense that when I feel anxious about God Himself, He wants me to talk to Him about it. Is it impertinent? Or rude? Or prideful? I would say it depends…
  • Expectantly. Kinda weird. What I mean is, that we should expect that God wants us to know Him, wants to guide us, and has all power to do so…in His time. Expectant means we wait for His answer which can come in many ways. My basis for this is Psalm 23. A shepherd feeds his sheep and leads them through danger. I cling to this passage when I need to be reminded that He is my shepherd.
  • Actively. Check things out. Read your Bible. Seek. Its easy for doubts about God to live in the realms of our head and the hallways of our emotions instead of treating them more seriously. The first place to seek is the place where He communicates to us. The Bible. Read. Read. And read some more as you wait expectantly on the issues you have talked about with Him face to face.
  • Shamelessly. Distancing yourself from others because you feel all over wrong, because you have doubts is the wrong move. Shame is the all over I am wrong feeling we all get at some point in our lives. Shame isn’t all bad, its like an indicator light on the dash to get you to pay attention. We are made in God’s image but we are fallen so life will mean experiencing shame in various degrees. Jesus came and took care of sin, the primary reason for our shame, so that we could live shamelessly in fellowship with him. By shameless, I mean like children. Kids ask the darnedest questions because they are young and curious. They get answers too. Why? Because they ask the questions! If we are to come to Jesus like children, he wants us to come with those darnedest questions–the ones everyone is dying to ask but because we fear looking foolish, we don’t. That’s when we lose out. When we don’t ask the questions.

Am I saying you should doubt? No. Don’t seek it out. I’m saying if it comes to you, think about how you are doubting. Doubts should prompt us to search for God. He wants to be found.

Kind of like playing hide and seek with a child in some ways. The goal of most of my kids when we used to play hide and seek was to be found. They felt they had lost when I didn’t find them right away and would bark and cough to give away their position.

I suspect God does the same when we search for Him. He wants to be found so don’t stop seeking.

 

Anemic Prayer

I searched the house a few times. I’m the family sleuth, tracing steps, investigating, interrogating and usually successful at finding lost things. When two thorough searches of our apartment failed to unearth our nice camera, I started purposely ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach.

I think they call it denial?

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Finding a picture capturing themes of loss and grace is hard. So, here instead, is a photo taken with the lost camera last year.

For the next couple months, I occasionally thought back to all the hotels and houses we passed through in the last 3 months of our transient life. Five or six places to came to mind. The weariness of moving set in and mustering up the energy to call just never happened. I didn’t want to do anything about it. I expected to unearth it anytime I looked in a closet.

I never did. I let the case go cold but it bugged me to know it was out there somewhere.

Last week, I put my foot down. One last look. A kindergarten program will do that to moms. I prayed one of those passing plea types of prayers as I charged to the closet with purpose.

Please, Lord! If it’s here show me!

I found the strap first and pulled, disbelieving. Out tumbled the camera bag, Hidden in the closet behind my husband’s shirts for the last 2 months.
I sent an all caps text to my husband and parents. I FOUND THE CAMERA!

What gets me is that God honors that type of prayer. I’m amazed because He answered it and it felt like such an anemic prayer.

I get so wrapped up in all the correct, God-honoring ways to pray that I lose the fact that prayer is falling on God. It’s a dependent action to ask for something I can’t achieve myself.

Dependence isn’t my natural posture. I’m not naturally inclined to feel comfortable in a relationship that is pretty much one way-God giving to me.

Just in that revelation I see how much I want the God and me contract to have a place for me to earn some favors.

Grace? No place for that!

It’s refreshing to serve a God that gives grace and honors the desperate prayer.