4 Jan 2013
It’s amazing the way questions from a child can trigger so many of your own. On a rainy drive the other day, my 5-year-old daughter announced she was going to sing a song for God. She sang a cute song that she made up herself and then looked up to the sky. As far as I know I have never said anything about God living in the sky or heaven being above us; I guess it must be intuitive to look to the sky when talking to God.
She paused, waited a little and then exclaimed, “Hellooooooo…God…did you like my song?” Followed by a slight pause, and then, “Mommy, I didn’t hear him say yes.” She had a genuinely perplexed look on her face. I think she expected to hear a voice from heaven affirming her. All I could do was let out a sigh because so many times I have thought the same thing. I didn’t have an answer for her, nor do I have a definitive answer for myself.
My daughter often probes me with spiritual questions, and despite my degree in theology I often don’t have answers for her. There are very few things I can answer with absolute certainty when it comes to spirituality. God, Jesus and Eternity, are cloaked in mystery. Not that we shouldn’t seek to know more; simply that we just never will have all the answers despite our best efforts! I don’t want to give her some clichéd Sunday school felt-board answer. I wasn’t satisfied with that as a child, and I don’t think she will be either.
My own faith journey has been rife with potholes and highs and lows. The mysteriousness of God is almost too much for me to handle at times. I think the phrase “mind blowing” would be appropriate. I am a ‘seeing is believing’ person, so my faith has taken many twists and turns. In vulnerable moments I have asked myself if I would really believe in God had I not been raised from infancy to believe. Perhaps not, or just maybe my faith would be stronger for having to flesh it out on my own. If I am being honest, I have moments where I have serious doubts, but then I also have moments when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a greater power is out there–the creator and redeemer of humankind.
The other night as I read a children’s bible story to Aliyah, I again was overcome with a great sense of uncertainty about my faith, and not having all the answers. Do I turn away from God because I can’t figure it all out? I can’t do that, because there is that spark within, the soul, that believes in something greater than us and yearns to connect with our creator. There is a little bit of God’s image within all of us. And then there’s the beauty of nature. If there is one thing that displays the presence of God, it is the wonder, awesomeness and subtlety of nature. And yet, my brain screams for answers to so many things that are seemingly impossible… unknowable.
It’s not as if faith is something that can be explained logically, and yet people all over the world believe because we have it in us to believe in something greater than what we see.
So why I am a believer in Jesus despite all the unanswered questions I have? In my first year of college I wrote a bible study on The Sermon on the Mount. I think more than any other theological topic I tackled during my studies, these teachings of Jesus had me transfixed. The Sermon on the Mount highlights all the teaching of Jesus and it is done so in a way that the average person can understand and connect with. Matthew 5:13 (TNIV) talks about a Christian being the salt and the light of the world: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” These words etched into my brain as I ruminated on them. So simple: Christians MUST be the SALT. We must be the ones willing to help, lending a hand, a shoulder to lean on and an outstretched arm. We have good news to offer. It’s not about politics or conservatism or any of that nonsense that Christians can get so easily entangled in.
The bottom line is when I look to Jesus–his example, his teachings, his philosophy and his redemption of a broken world–things make sense. My head stops swimming for just a little while. When I look to everything else, that’s when I get confused. And while I don’t have all my questions answered, and so much is still murky, Jesus is the clearest picture of God.Even though I can’t be sure of everything, I can be sure that following Jesus and modeling my life after his teachings, is the way to true life.
I know that I will still have days where I have faith crises, and shake my head in disbelief, but I choose to look to Jesus as an example of the Creator’s love. I choose to raise my children that way as well. They are always welcome to ask questions, and no question will be taboo. I will never force them or shove the bible down their throat. They will have to arrive at their own path. I can try and show them the way, but unless they decide for themselves their faith will always be shallow and contrived. I am the first one to admit that things don’t always make sense when it comes to spirituality, and I won’t hide that from my children.