The other day, I was asked this question: “Have you ever heard God speak to you?”
I thought about it for a second and then replied, “If I answered with anything other than ‘no,’ would you believe me?”
I’m thinking about this now because it encapsulates one of the major problems that I have when I talk about my faith: I’m not sure I would have believed me.
I want my faith to make sense. Things would be so much easier if I could rationally, scientifically understand God. I used to believe this was possible.
I was taught that “pure Christianity” was a rational belief system, that, if you really thought about it, it all made perfect sense.
- We could trust the Bible because it could be verified independently. The archeological and historical record corroborated what it had to say.1
- Jesus was a historical figure; sources outside the Bible verify his existence.
- A “plain and simple” reading of scripture proves that Jesus is really the son of God because he fulfills all the prophecies from the Old Testament.
Basically, I believed that with enough study, you could make a purely rational, academic case for believing in God. The God of my youth was one of the enlightenment. He was real because his existance could be historically proven.
I had a view of God completely devoid of the supernatural.
Sure, I believed in miracles. They were recorded in scripture, so they happened. But what about modern miracles? Well, God doesn’t work that way anymore. In the modern world, he “heals” people through doctors and medicine. He answers prayers, just not in an obvious way. He does speak to us. Just only through the Bible, not by actually talking to us.
I remember being in college and talking to a friend who believed God told him to leave school and travel to a different state. I thought this person was nuts. God doesn’t just talk to people like that. This is the same reaction I had to people who claimed to be healed, people who had (shudder) claimed to have a demon cast out of them, people who spoke in tongues, etc. It all sounded absolutely crazy.
My “faith” was an intellectual exercise.
Has God ever spoken to me?
Ok, I’ll answer if you promise not to think I’m crazy.
I mean no.
I mean maybe.
I mean, I don’t know. There are moments in my life, where it’s possible that God was speaking to me. It’s also entirely possible that he wasn’t, and I’m not sure I can really tell the difference.
There was this one time, I was in my early 20s, I was at my parent’s house, alone. I saw a news story about something to do with abortion. I don’t remember if it was about the rate incresing or decreasing, or something else entirely. What I do remember is that I was suddenly overcome with extreme sadness. I wept. Hard. It felt like the weight of everything wrong in the world was dropped on me. There were babies being born that weren’t wanted. There were women who were being denied critical medical care and being demonized. There were two sides of people vigirously arguing with each other, hating each other. And so much more was wrong, and I couldn’t take it, and I bawled like a baby.
I never cry. Things don’t typically affect me emotionally. But there I was, weeping. And then it stopped. It went away. And I knew, in that instant, that was the sadness that God felt. He shared his sorrow with me for just a moment.
Or did he? Looking back, maybe those events really touched me. Maybe I was sad about everything because there’s plenty to be sad about. Maybe what happened in that moment is I thought that God must feel sadness like this when he looks at our world. Maybe it wasn’t God, but just me. I don’t know.
There are more examples, but I’m already over 600 words. The point is, my faith has grown to include God actually working in this world and actually interacting with people, myself included. But, like everything else about my faith, my rational brain still questions whether this really happens. It is this uncertainty that holds me back from sharing these stories. It also holds me back from really counting them as part of my view of the world.
I do believe in God. I do believe he works in this world. I do believe he speaks to me. I’m just very aware that it sounds silly and makes me look foolish. Beacuse it sounds silly to me.
- And if it didn’t, it was only because the archeological record was incomplete. ↩