[The email below is from a conversation between me and my friend Jenny. If you’re just joining in, it might make more sense if you go back to the beginning and read them in order (they are all linked together). Click HERE to read Jenny’s first email.]
Subject: Re: I have a few questions
Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 10:01 PM
Sorry I haven’t been able to respond to your last email yet and I don’t have the energy to do it tonight because I’m thinking an early bedtime is in order. I will offer a few quick general comments though.
As a general rule, big God questions (like the ones you’re asking) only flow out of really honest faith. If people didn’t have faith they wouldn’t have much reason to ask questions (or at least not to care about the questions and the implications of their “answers”). I think a lot of people assume that having questions and doubts means they don’t have faith, and I can understand this assumption, but I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. I used to talk about this with my dad a lot, and I remember a conversation with him on the phone while I was in college when he said “doubt is not the opposite of faith, but doubt is part of faith. Disbelief is the opposite of faith.” I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and it’s continued to make more sense as I’ve come to understand what it means to “have” faith and come to some deeper realizations of what faith actually is. If you spend a few minutes just thinking about what faith is, you’ll eventually realize that faith cannot possibly exist without doubts – they’re mutually exclusive to each other. Having faith is believing in something that we can’t see, touch, hear or experience in any other ways that fit our earthly/human understandings. Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and theologian from the 19th century explained faith as “a person blind-folded walking down a pier on a foggy night, not knowing where the pier ends, but taking the next step.” The imagery of this definition has been helpful to me as I’ve continually attempted to deepen my own personal faith. I bring my biggest questions to God, not because I doubt God’s existence, strength, power, love or plans, but because I believe those things about God and I trust that God is the only one who can handle those questions. Simply having questions about God proves to me that I believe in God, and the act of asking God those questions shows me that I trust that God can respond to my questions. Where faith enters into the situation and gets tricky on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute level is when we have to live without knowing the answers (or in our misunderstandings of how God has been trying to respond to our questions). Another helpful quote for me about all this is from C.S. Lewis, who, when he wasn’t writing about lions, witches and wardrobes, once wrote the statement “I believe in the presence of God as surely as I believe in the presence of the sun. Not merely because I can see it, but because by its light all things can be clearly seen.”
Sorry for not responding to any of the specific questions in your last email, but I hope some of these more general thoughts are helpful. I’ll try to keep up with your questions and would actually love to get together to talk (maybe with Sarah and anyone else who’s interested) about any or all of this in person sometime, but for now email works just fine. I just can’t make any promises that I’ll always be able to respond right away. This is fun for me, so never feel like you’re inconveniencing me with your emails.
And by the way, I didn’t talk to any of the girls at Panera (most of them seemed to be going out to eat with their boyfriends…boo!).
Have a good week.
P.S. If you’re looking for something to do with 18 minutes of your life, my sermon from Journey last Sunday (on servanthood and Jesus washing his disciples’ feet) is online, click here to listen to it.
[Click HERE to read Jenny’s response to this email.]