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April 30, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 17

Take The Step

Scripture to meditate on: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (Psalm 13:5)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

We’ve found four practical choices that help us a lot on our spiritual journeys. And we especially recommend them to any Christian who struggles with faith and doubt.

We recommend that you:

Stay in conversation with God. Although no human being has all the answers, the good news is that God gave us the Bible as our road map and the Holy Spirit as our guide to lead us to truth. We don’t travel alone—that is so encouraging! God Himself will show us the light we need for our next step if we sincerely seek it.

It’s okay to share your honest questions with friends and church leaders. But if all you do is voice your doubts without bringing them to God, then your faith will never be your own. When you present your doubts in prayer to God and dig into Scripture for answers, you are maintaining an open and honest dialogue with Him. You are making it easier for His Spirit and His words to speak and move in your heart.

Put your heart into your quest for the truth. Doubts may start in your head, but unless you let those questions penetrate your heart, they will always just be intellectual questions instead of what they should be—the natural growth process of a firsthand faith.

Like us, you probably know people who seem to be talking heads when it comes to questions of faith. They have plenty of opinions, questions, and quotations. They could argue one position or another for ages—and they just might. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned about insincere seekers who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

That’s why we recommend you bring more than your questions to God. Bring Him your heart too. And your will. And your deepest desires. He sees you as more than just an intellect. He sees you as a whole person, and He wants to reveal Himself to all of you.

Embrace the mystery of life. In an age when you can instantly research almost any question on Google, it’s easy to believe there’s no real mystery left in the world. But this line of thinking can be a trap. Socrates wrote, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” Your human nature craves understanding, can’t rest until every question gets answered, every fact is nailed down. But it’s arrogant to think you will ever be able to understand everything.

No matter how well educated you are, there will always be so much you don’t know—about inner and outer space, about the oceans, psychology, physics, human nature, even your own body. You can let this realization of your limitations defeat you, or you can embrace the wonderful mystery of the world around you. You can and should challenge yourself to learn and understand more. But you also need to humbly acknowledge that God, your Creator, is the only One who will ever understand everything.

Have faith in God’s faithfulness. When people present us with their doubts, we usually remind them that, although they may have lost faith in God, He hasn’t lost faith in them. Faith is a process, and doubting is a part of human nature. When nothing else seems clear, you can have faith in God’s faithfulness. The apostle Paul wrote, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all!” (Romans 3:3–4).

Many of our friends still think God is going to punish them for second-guessing Him. But that’s not going to happen. (Spend time with the New Testament stories of Peter and Thomas if you don’t believe us.) Just because you have doubts about God does not mean that He has doubts about you!

Think about it: if you have accepted Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, God is not going to send you to hell for a bunch of annoying questions! A question—even an irresolvable doubt—is not the same thing as totally rejecting Christ.