so i have this friend. i've known him for quite some time, has a very strong Christian heritage. grew up in a Christian family, school, etc. the whole deal.
he recently told me that he is now agnostic. not sure if God exists and if He does, not sure who He is.
wow. this floored me. my brain immediately started going a thousand miles an hour-coming up with all of these arguments and points to explore this "craziness" that my friend was getting himself into.
thankfully the filter on my brain stopped me from unloading on him a kazillion thoughts. but i began to ponder in my own life this faith stuff.
the questions of why does one change faith? how does that happen? what about his life or life circumstances affect his change of faith? was it real to begin with? if it was, then what could have possibly caused him to shift from that? and if he could do that . . . could i?
where is the line drawn from circumstances to determine our perspective faith and our faith determines our perspective on circumstances?
i know that faith is just that, faith - believing in that which is unseen and unknown, but there is an experiential side to our faith -- there is a tangibleness to the Christian walk.
we start out with faith--we hear the first of this crazy message that a God does exist. then we hear that He really loves us, a lot. but because we are all screwed up and He wants to be with us, He sends His Son, Jesus, to live a life as a human to live a "non-screwed" up life and yet gets the same punishment as us screwed up people--death. but what's different about this cat named Jesus is that while He's a human, He's also God. so He comes back to life and offers us this same opportunity (eternal life) after our screwed up selves finish our time on this earth.
YEAH, CRAZY I KNOW.
so right from the start it takes a pretty major leap of faith to even believe in this faith stuff . . . yet then this rediculous thing happens . . . in some shape or fashion, this story - this faith stuff becomes real. like, for real for real.
we experience Him, His presence, His love, grace, mercy, etc. we see Him in dreams or visions, we have peace in a way that we cannot explain in a time when we should be freaking out. our dad's get healed of cancer (like mine), our parents marriages work out, we see people who were literally blind now able see (like i've seen).
so there's a direct correlation to this life experience and this faith stuff, it marries the two together.
but the problem is we can't always stay there. while we will have these God- experiences time and again, that isn't what solidifies our faith. because for as good as these God-experiences can be, we are screwed up people and we live in a jacked up world, and bad things can happen. this is when our faith is what it is--faith-belief in stuff that we can't see.
so when a grandparent dies (like mine have) when your heart is crushed (like mine has been) and when you've got bills out the wazoo (like mine are) and when life just sucks-you fall back not on just experiences, but on faith that says that crazy story is true. that these things that i have believed about God are true, His character is what He says it is.
and while it just doesn't make sense, life that is, I know that i know that i know that i know that i know that i know, that He is God.
and i cannot disregard my faith because for a season of life my experiences don't match up to what i thot life would be. cause its faith stuff.
delusional, convicted, weird. .. yeah maybe all of the above. but this is what i've found. if i continue to believe in this, faith stuff -- even when life doesn't match up-if i persevere through it . . . i've found my life experience to ALWAYS match the faith stuff.
its just takes some work sometimes to ignore my present heart-ache and to stand on that faith stuff. i hope my friend finds that journey back to the faith stuff. cause i can't imagine life is better off where he/she is now.
that's the thing about this faith stuff. we can leave it because life stuff happens, remember were screwed up people in a jacked up world, but life removed from the faith stuff seems to be much much more unsettling.