Just about two years ago, I joined that wonderful, enchanting, and millennial world of blogging. You can look back through the archives to see what my first post was; however, I do find it interesting after two years, I’m doing a similar post.
So the story of my life, two years later. What has happened since that time? Too much to tell, honestly, but I want to briefly talk about my summer, as it comes to a satisfying close.
My summer was tough, to say it simply, and it was a dark time to be Seth Brown. I hesitate to say those words because they sound rather melodramatic, but I can think of no better way to capture what has been happening apart form that word, “dark.”
Have you ever been on cruise control for a bit, spiritually speaking? And then something happened that caused you to look inside yourself for a moment, even if it was the briefest of moments, and you saw what was lurking? And you tried to deal with it? And you thought you dealt with it? But it still lurks and is about to rear its ugly head?
Imagine that moment in the Wizard of Oz, when the heroes peer behind the curtain to find out that the great Wizard of Oz is just a man. Well, I peered behind the curtain about a month or so ago, and I saw something that shook me so deeply. I think I could try to explain what exactly I saw, but I believe including some thoughts I wrote in my journal during that time will suffice:
“On Sunday night, I glimpsed, in a very real and concrete way, the blackness of my sin… To put it colloquially, that scared the crap (didn’t actually use the word crap in my journal) out of me. And further, I don’t know if I care enough right now to do a whole lot about it! Deep down that scares me!”
“I don’t feel like a Christian. If you had asked me a couple days ago, yes the answer would have been yes. But, for whatever reason, doubts are creeping in, and it is something I’m going to have to struggle with, and I don’t know if I’ll be in the best frame of mind until this ends.”
“…I’m experiencing the same kinda doubt about whether I really want to go on with this whole Christianity thing. Is it really worth it to follow Christ? Are his promises worth more than what the world has to offer? I don’t doubt that God exists, I doubt whether he is worth it. I felt all of that in the span of 24 hours, and it shook me deeply, and I’m still feeling it.”
The weight of these summer months still rest on me, and I’m being vulnerable in sharing this with you; however, I’m doing so for several reasons.
1. I am not perfect. You are not perfect.
Sometimes I get the feeling that people look at me and think, “Oh, there goes the most perfect person ever.” Maybe that’s my own pride imagining that, but I am not perfect! I have seen what I am capable of, and I am not perfect, but neither are you. That’s ok! One of the books I want to read is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. Somewhere along the way, one of the characters says, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” How true that is! I want to be part of a group of people who are able to say openly, “I don’t feel like a Christian, and I don’t particularly want to be a Christian right now…” A perfect Christian would never say that! But a good and honest one just might dare to.
2. I am not alone. You are not alone.
Satan devours faith for breakfast. That’s what he wants to do. He can do it much easier when you are convinced you are all alone in your doubts and in your struggles. Let me tell you, friend, you are not alone! Not only are there other Christians who struggle with the same doubts, there was one who felt what you felt and more! He was terrified in the garden, and he was crucified willingly because he loves you. His name is Jesus. You are not alone, and neither am I.
3. I am a good and faithful Christian. You are a good and faithful Christian.
Luke 22:31-32 says, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Satan has asked Jesus’ permission to break Simon Peter’s faith. What does Jesus say? He does not say, “if you turn back, Simon…” He says, “I have prayed for you,” and, “after you have turned back…” We are good and faithful Christians in time of doubt, because Jesus is interceding on our behalf for our faith, and he has utter confidence in who we are as believers. That truth gives me great hope! I may doubt who I am, but Jesus always knows who I am. Jesus thinks of me and you in our time of doubt and smiles and says, “When you turn back, I will use you again to strengthen others.” That is what I am doing with this post, or that is hopefully what I am doing.
Psalm 91 says, “… his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” I struggled during this time because I tried using my own faith to reorient myself. Well, what do you do when your faith has run out? What do you do when everything in you no longer seems to care about where you end up? Can you bring yourself back to God on your own faith in him? Maybe, but I think there’s an easier way.
Our way of understanding God informs our perception of ourselves. I have utter confidence in who I am, because I have utter confidence in who God says He is. God says I am faithful, therefore, even when I don’t feel faithful, I know I am. That’s why his faithfulness is my shield against doubt. When going through trying times of your faith, certainly look to your own faith to aid you while struggling. But go beyond your own faith and rest in who God says you are. His faithfulness will sustain and remain even when yours and mine seems to run dry.
During this particularly black time in my faith, a certain song gave me great hope. “A Prayer,” by King’s Kaleidoscope, has easily become my favorite worship song. Throughout the song, which happens to be explicit, the artist drops the f-bomb twice. The vulnerability he shows as he cries out to God in despair brought me to tears. Literally. I cried. The song reveals someone who was not afraid of the doubts, and I needed to hear and see and feel that. Please listen to it if you no longer feel like a Christian or can no longer see the face of the Father.
So, dear friend, I may not have worded everything as I wanted to. It’s certainly not a perfect blog post. But it is about the “realest” post you will read from me. Now having had the chance to reflect on the lessons and experiences of this summer, I can say with absolute confidence that Christ has already redeemed them. I can be thankful for a dark and tough summer, because it ultimately drew me closer to Christ. Having understood the depths of my sin, I can now better understand the glorious redemption we, as a people who believe in God, have in the personhood of Jesus Christ.
I pray that when you experience times of serious doubt, you will remember who you are in Christ. After all, it’s not about me and you. It’s about what Jesus is doing in me and you, and ultimately, it’s about God and his glory!
Feel free to call/text/email. If you want to talk about doubts and Christianity, I’ll buy the coffee. I also recognize that this post is mostly for fellow believers struggling to live well in a wasteland; regardless, I’d love to talk to anyone and everyone about my summer!