Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Same situation, different reaction

I've been chatting to a Twitter friend about God. He used to believe, but now doesn't. I haven't probed as to the reason yet. (It's hard holding a deep and meaningful conversation when you're limited to 140 characters!!)

He's been reading Richard Dawkins, and has found what Dawkins said in 'The God Delusion' helpful. (VERY briefly, Dawkins argues that there is no God, that everything we THOUGHT was God is just biochemistry and genes at work.) His words were that he found it 'freeing' not to have to believe in God anymore, and commented that maybe he feels this way because of years of disappointment.

In response I told him how, when Zoe died, I wanted nothing more than to give up my faith, because it also felt like I would have been freeing myself. I really and truly wanted nothing more to do with God, the Church, faith and Christians. I wanted to believe that there was no-one up there listening to me, no-one up there at all, actually. It would have been so much simpler.

For the regular readers of this blog, you will know how much I have struggled with my faith since then. However, as I have struggled, I've found myself being drawn back into faith, rather than being repulsed from it. Ultimately, for me, I find myself echoing the words of the disciples: "To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." These words were uttered after Jesus' teaching caused hundreds to reject him. At that point, Jesus offered the disciples a way out, asking them if they wanted to leave him too. He didn't apologise for or retract the tough teaching. Equally, he didn't explain it and make it easier. He simply asked them whether or not they wanted out.

Like the disciples, I find Jesus' teaching very hard to swallow at times. His standards are so high, and often so contrary to the prevailing culture. Yet, it's either His way, or the highway. With God, there are no middle grounds, not in this. Everyone, eventually, has to make a choice about which camp they choose to stand in. If you choose the God camp, you don't get to pick and choose which beliefs to accept. It's an all-or-nothing deal.

In the end, for me, God has the words of eternal life. Life does not make sense in any other context. So, I battle on, grappling with the stuff I find difficult. Actually, more accurately, God has battled on with me - my return to faith has been all God's doing. My part has been limited to submission/ acquiescence and small steps of redeveloping trust in Him.

Graeme, on the other hand, has had a completely different reaction to mine. We both faced the same crisis of faith over Zoe. I have found my way back (or more accurately, I have been drawn back). He has not.

Grieving is a different process for each person, and takes a different length of time for each. I'm hoping that he is still in the place I was, and that, with time, as his heart heals, he will return to faith, in the same way that God has drawn me back to himself. I hope that he doesn't get stuck. I hope that ... I hope that he's not too proud or rebellious to allow God to draw him back. I hope, most of all, that he finds peace - the shalom peace of God that passes all understanding.
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