There have been a lot of them: parenting moments that I’ve felt more than unqualified for over the years. But I don’t know if my heart would have ever been prepared for the night that my boy told me he wasn’t sure if he believed in God.
According to him, he was eighty percent sure – an encouraging score when it comes to laundry completion and math tests – but definitely not the number I was looking for when it came to his faith. My mind raced through the days and years that my husband and I had lovingly pointed him towards Christ. Oh, the Bible stories he had heard… the church services he had attended. Hadn’t God heard my hundreds of pleading prayers for my children to love Him with all of their hearts, souls and strength?
Oh, this mama’s heart.
I usually find myself sitting on the edge of his bed for our nighttime routine, but this night you’d better believe that I crawled all the way in to lay right next to him and listen to his heart. Everything in me wanted to talk instead of listen; to convince him that of course he believed. But deep down I knew that he had to wrestle through his doubt and come to his own conclusion. That my faith couldn’t be his. As I listened to my questioning ten year old, I recognized that the doubts he was facing weren’t new or unique to him. Many people throughout the Bible – and many of us – go through seasons of doubt when it comes to knowing God.
Some grow up in church, hearing Bible stories and praying mealtime prayers for as long as they can remember. Belief seems obvious, but head knowledge doesn’t always translate into heart knowledge. Some aren’t exposed to God until later in life, where people and experiences have already crept in and jaded what they’ll let their heart believe. Either way, there is often a disconnect when it comes to making a personal decision about the truth of who God really is.
Where have we gone wrong?
Here are some common “head games” that we play: roadblocks that we put up that keep God at a distance and limit the Truth of who He is from solidifying into our hearts. See if you can relate with any of these…
1. We base our knowledge of God on our emotions. If things go our way, God must be for us. If we don’t get what we want, we question if there is a God who really loves us. Our human emotions often sway with every season, joy and trial, and at best can be unstable, unpredictable and shallowly based on our limited view of God’s control over all things (Rom. 8:28). Until we are mature in the knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:13-14), we’ll continue to be tossed by every wave that comes our way, and our knowledge of God will be skewed.
2. We base our knowledge of God on current suffering, past hurts or people who have wronged us. It’s impossible to live in this world and escape hardship (John 16:33). Because of sin, we experience everything from hurt feelings to costly wars against nations. But who we attribute that hardship to often determines what we believe about God. There is a sad number of people in this world who have turned their backs on God because they have been hurt by sinful people (all of us – Rom. 3:23) or difficult circumstances. The Bible warns us that it is better to take refuge in the Lord than in humans (Psalm 118:8). Though we may not always understand God’s ways, when we really know Him, we can be sure that He is for us (Rom. 8), He gives good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11), and that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6).
Sometimes it is through the hard stuff, the hard years, that we truly develop our relationship with God. We learn to be broken before Him. Sometimes when we get to the place where He is all we have, we find that He is really all we need.” ~ Angela, You Are Loved, pg. 32
3. We base our knowledge of God on what we can understand. I need this reminder often: God is God and I am not. God instructs us to seek Him and know Him, but sometimes we fail to remember that we don’t want a God that we can completely understand. Since He is God, His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) and His ways are foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:27-29). Just because we can’t always understand Him doesn’t mean that we should stop trusting Him or give up in our pursuit to know Him more. It just means that as believers, we won’t know everything until we get to heaven (1 John 3:2).
4. And maybe the hardest truth? We’re just plain lazy. I don’t want to admit it either, but the truth is we’re a generation that wants quick knowledge and fast results. Instead of a hard and steady pursuit, we want immediate gratification. Knowing God takes a commitment to a relationship with God. It takes sacrifice, study and daily searching for Truth. Knowing God is not a passive activity that just “happens.” Rather, we know God more when we actively pursue Him and His Word (Jer. 29:12-13).
In an effort to really get to know God, my boy took on a challenge to read the Bible five days a week for an entire school year. He prayed for God to reveal Himself to him, journaled his thoughts, asked his dad and me lots of questions, and wrestled through some academic things on his own. As much as a young boy could, he sought to really know who God is. As a result of his pursuit and the work of the Holy Spirit, I’m thrilled to report that his eighty percent is now a solid 100%.
But knowing God doesn’t stop there.
A passionate relationship with the Creator of the universe isn’t just about a one-time decision or simply about filling our minds with facts. Knowing God is a lifelong pursuit of the One who sent His Son to die for us, where we allow His life and death to impact us in such a way that our behaviors, our perspectives, our futures – our everythings - are forever changed because of Him.
We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding…” ~ 1 John 5:20
Friend, do you know Him today?
At His feet,
**LET’S TALK: Do you struggle with one of the “roadblocks” to knowing God mentioned above? How has the truth of God’s Word helped you to overcome feelings of doubt when it comes to your faith?