Monday, April 05, 2010

Through my doubts, I celebrate the day

For most of my life, I have had what I guess most people would consider a slightly lukewarm Christian life. Slightly lukewarm because I still attend church, I serve in two different ministries, and I help out in occasional church events, but my faith is not actually all that great, I don't have a passion for telling the people around me about Christ, and I don't even bother to pray or read my Bible all that much these days. And for most of my life, this has been somewhat of a frustration to me. We Christians are always reminded that we are called by God to love other people, to serve Him, to try and bring others to Christ, to maintain a close relationship with God, yadda yadda yadda blablabla, and for some Christians, this seems to be easy. They say it's the love of God that drives them to do it, and for most people I think they have had some sort of spiritual or emotional experience with God and that's why they go all out for him. Very rarely do people believe in God because it intellectually makes sense to them. The weird thing for me is that, at this point in my life, the only thing that is keeping my faith together is that for the most part, the Christian faith intellectually makes sense. I guess at this point, most atheists and perhaps a great deal of Christians would be like "Wat??", but yeah, I've read the logical arguments for it and few months ago, I was in some online debates over my faith with non-believers. And during those debates, even though I was usually debating with more atheists than I could handle and I was the ONLY Christian, my faith came out stronger instead of weaker. Unfortunately, after a while, I got too busy with work and no longer have the time to continue the debates... and since then, I've had many questions and doubts about what I believe in. Intellectually, I have many reasons to believe there is a God (not going into the debate here, that's not the purpose of this post), but the doubts creeping in were on whether or not that God was actually the loving and personal God I've always been taught about. Because many times, I have prayed to Him, to ask for something... something I thought would be good especially for my spiritual growth, or something that I could use as a testimony for Him. Like the time my wallet was lost at Sunway Pyramid (most likely pickpocketed from my handbag), I prayed that I would get it back somehow, and not only me, but even a group of Christian friends prayed the same thing and their prayer was with even more gusto and confidence than mine. I prayed that if I got it back, I would definitely testify about it... but I never got my wallet back. So no testimony. And then there's the long standing prayer that I would find a nice Christian guy to be in a relationship with. I've asked God for that I dunno how many times throughout the past few years, and each time I would tell him that I really want to enjoy being in a relationship, and I want to enjoy the intimacy, but I don't want to get into another relationship with a guy was not Christian and undoubtedly would lead to problems, like in my past two relationships. And I would tell him it would be great to have a guy who could support me (and I could 'hopefully' support him) in our Christian walk together. You'd think God would be most happy to answer that request and send me my Mr. Right who is a Christian. But so far, I have been nothing but disappointed. To the extent where I've even asked him that if He wants me to single, then please take away my desire to want to be a relationship. He hasn't answered that either. Sometimes I wonder if God is purposely not giving me what I want coz' I got into previous relationships that I knew I shouldn't have, and on occasions crossed the line I shouldn't have. And sometimes I wonder if God is even hearing me at all, or whether He even cares. At points, the doubts have made me almost wanna throw my hands up, give up my beliefs, run out to a club and party the night away coz' I don't wanna think about it anymore. I live somewhat of a double life... I kinda pretend that I have a pretty ok relationship with God, and always chirpy and quirky, as most people call me... but in actuality I'm like that because I don't want people to know that I am problems in my faith. And I don't want them to know because I don't want them to get depressed because of my doubts, which may cause THEM to have doubts too. I think if they are having a good walk with God, why should I come along with my little grey cloud and rain on their parade?

I've never done the whole running-out-to-the-club part though... partially coz' all the cool clubs are all the way in KL and I have to pay quite a bit to get in. And partially because I know that giving up my faith isn't going to make me happy. It's probably going to make me just even more miserable. And one of the things I hold on to is the memory of my own spiritual experience I had in 2004, when I went through a similar bout of sadness and doubt, and I actually did make a decision that I didn't want to be a Christian anymore... and immediately after I was overwhelmed with so much sadness, I was crying uncontrollably like I'd never cried before and in my head I was wondering what was happening to me. And another part of my head (God talking, I guess) told me that this was all the pain and hurt I was going to through in my life if I were no longer a Christian. After that, well, I decided giving up my faith maybe not such a great plan after all.

The other things that keep me going is the stories of the Bible itself. Namely some of the Psalms and the book of Ecclesiastes and Job. Ecclesiastes, probably written by King Solomon, could go for the most depressing book of the Bible award and win hands down. The writer rants on about how everything in life is meaningless and depressing and people are full of crap, and stuff like that. And than there's poor Job, who was a pretty well-off dude with a strong faith in God, but one day everything was taken away from him, he lost all of his wealth and all his children dead, and he was left asking God why. And then there were the Psalmists, who also felt at times that God was far off, eg. first line of Psalm 10 says "Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?". All these writers have had their own issues with God and with their faith... but in the end, they all would eventually write about praising God for his goodness anyway. And in Job's case, he was doubly blessed. I guess in some ways, my issue is that the church has always drummed into our heads that we're supposed to be experiencing some great joy from God, and some people get the impression that we're supposed to be happy joyful people all the time, which makes me feel kinda blah coz' I'm not. But these books in the BIBLE, tell me that it's ok to feel the way I do... it's ok to feel that God isn't listening to me... it doesn't mean He isn't. Maybe He's just waiting for a better time.... or procrastinating.. :P And even through all the doubts and sadness I have sometimes, every time I decide to stop overthinking my faith and just give up some praise to God, I do feel an inexplicable sense of peace and joy which I guess for the most part, cannot be intellectually explained. And I guess that is a peace and joy that comes from God.

Thank you, Lord, for your death on the cross this Easter Day (I'm one hour and 45 minutes overdue, but it's ok, it's still Easter in the United States. :))