Some people are born with innate faith. They don’t seem to work at it; faith just is for them. Others seep into faith—or it seeps into them—as they grow and experience and live life. Still others, some who might be ardent disbelievers, get body-slammed and even as much as they’d like to deny belief, they can’t.
While all of these experiences are different and the experiences to the individual are highly unique to them, these folks all end up in the same place. They believe.
But there are others. Those who still seek, who want to believe, crave and yearn for belief, but struggle and doubt and can’t seem to find it.
Of all of us, though admittedly getting body-slammed isn’t fun, my heart aches for these struggling seekers most of all. You see, even the most difficult search is easier when you’re not slogging through all that sludge alone. When at core level you have an innate and quiet confidence that you’ll find what you need. Struggling seekers have only the struggle for company. The struggle, and doubt. And that is a hard, lonely road to travel.
There hasn’t been a time when I didn’t know God existed. There have been many times when I’ve wondered if he wasn’t taking long nap, or if he’d finally gotten fed up with all of us, tossed up his arms and turned his back. (He doesn’t do that and I know it, yet I have wondered at times if maybe he’d changed his policy.) I’ve wondered many things about God; some logical and reasoned, some whimsical and tinged with comforting images fraught with fantasy. But I have never not known that He exists.
And I’ve only just discovered how very lucky that makes me.
Regardless of what happens, I know that God is aware, with me, holding me up when I’ve reached my limit, and that when I can’t, He can. That fortifies me.
When the world beats me up, I take refuge in Him. When I’m wounded, I heal in His protective hands. He fortifies and sustains me, and I know that no matter what happens, He’s there, comforting and guiding me, loving me unconditionally, never forsaking me, and He reassures me of all this and more in subtle ways—and not-so subtle ways, depending on how attuned I am. If I need a tap, I’ll get a tap. If I need a sledgehammer, I’ll get that, too. Do I have proof God exists?
Yes, proof sufficient to me. A lifetime of experience with incident upon incident and awareness upon awareness evidence I cannot dispute.
But what about those who haven’t had a lifetime of experience? Who haven’t sought or found that refuge and protection? Who lack firsthand knowledge of God working in their lives—lack any relationship with Him?
The thought alone hurts my heart. Let’s face it, life can be tough at times, and some times, it’s downright mean. During those times, it tries the soul to face challenges with God. I can’t imagine the additional challenges of facing them alone.
Think about it. Confronting death and dying without knowing that this life is but a twinkle in time and eternity is much, much longer. Without knowing God is there and this life isn’t all there is. Imagine being told you’re terminal, and there’s a long struggle ahead, and having to face that without faith that when you can’t handle what’s to come, God will.
That’s a hard, lonely, frightening road. And there are those who travel it. Their agony in doing so is far too easy to imagine, and the absence of being assured of all the promises made to carry us, comfort us, provide for us the needed means.
There are times when we know what we need. But there are also times when we’re so far down, so overwhelmed, so lost that we don’t know. We feel beyond reach, beyond hope. But we are not. There is no place we can go, nothing that can happen to us that is beyond God.
That truth is one of many that I’ve read in the Bible over and again. But it’s also one I didn’t fully grasp until exploring the issue in a novel. The question arose: Can a person get to a place that is beyond God? Intellectually, I knew the answer, but I sorely needed to see a practical application. One life where that specific question was called and answered. I wrote my way through it in FORGET ME NOT.
In it, a woman loses everything except her life. Her identity, her memories, her sense of everything . . . except her faith. She has nothing but faith. And is tried mightily by enemies—all unknown. And yet through her trials and challenges, she retains that certainty that nothing is too big for God. He’s with her, and if she continues to walk in faith, she’ll find her way.
Much happens to her that was totally unexpected. It seemed throughout the novel, I was just as surprised as readers, and I was supposedly creating this story. But things changed, twisted, became more complicated. Most of the time, I felt as if I were trudging along behind the character trying to stop stepping in mud puddles and squishing mud between my toes. Still, this was an important question. For me, but also for others, particularly those who were lost. And so I trudged on, trusting that what was needed would be conveyed.
Some would call that taking a leap of faith. But honestly it was a series of leaps and a determination to find the answer and a heartfelt certainty that because the question had been called, the book had its own purpose. To fulfill it, it had to be finished. And so it was. And the answer was there.
Maybe, I thought, it’s natural for writers to write their way to answers to their questions. But then I heard from readers, and they were seeking those answers, too. Some had the intellectual answers, but like me, wanted to see a practical application.
Interestingly enough, some readers wrote who had doubts settled. Some raised other questions that I’ve gone on to explore in other books. Some who didn’t believe opened their mind to the possibility. Some ardently refused to believe, but for some, it was that something extra they’d sought.
And I learned that purpose is multi-purpose, according to need. And that was a significant lesson for me as a writer, a reader, and as a human being. It showed me that sometimes we have proof. Sometimes we choose to believe . . . anyway. Either way, when we seek, we discover the truth.