For as long as I can remember, I would wake up in the mornings and see my mom in the same plush green chair, with her pour over coffee and her battered Bible and journal. Every morning, same time, same place, same book. She was diligent, unwavering, and faithful. Even in the depths of despair and sorrow when our family was falling apart, emotions running high, she believed. She wrestled. Oh did she ever wrestle, but she had a faith unlike many I have observed.
Full disclosure, my faith isn’t as unwavering. My belief is not as steadfast as that diligent woman in the plush green chair. I doubt. I doubt Jesus is who he says he is. I doubt that there is One way. I doubt that I can trust God at his Word. I doubt that the Bible is God’s very Word.
And there is one significant difference between the lady in the green chair and me. She had her priorities straight. She was willing to give up her mornings, the only time she had to herself as a single mom, to study the Bible. She knew deep down that there was something there, a pearl that she would sell everything for.
I don’t have that.
And therefore I doubt.
Recently I had a conversation with a mentor. It was a difficult conversation. He asked, “Who do you want to be at 50? Do you want to be that lady that works out all the time, hikes lots, and has great experiences; generally a good person?” No, no I don’t want to only be that person. I see that person daily in Vancouver, and like many of the people we encounter, there is often a longing, a thirst for something more in that person. He gently indicated that I needed to rearrange my priorities. If I really want to believe and have a faith that is unwavering, I need to sacrifice, I need to spend as much time studying the Bible as I do hiking, camping, and working out. As much time as I give to Netflix, tromping around Vancouver, and flitting away my time on nothingness.
Now I’m not talking about just reading the Bible and putting it down again, checking another box on my list and moving on with my day in hopes that I find a little nugget of truth to sustain me. I’m talking about the kind of study that broadens my understanding of the mystery of God. The kind of study that is like looking at a fantastic painting that you can’t stop staring at; that every time you look at the painting you wonder why they used that shade of blue, and chose that kind of paint, and decided upon that particular angle.
I drifted and I didn’t even know it. I drifted because of the systems I had set up for myself; because of what the world was telling me was important.
You see, I believe now that my doubt is directly correlated to my drifting. I didn’t set out to drift. I just got lazy. I stopped reading the Bible because it didn’t instantly gratify me. I used to say I’m not disciplined enough. I used to say it’s just too hard. I am not trained to read the Bible. I don’t know how. But now I think I just became selfish, indulgent even. It wasn’t that I lacked discipline. In fact, I have plenty of discipline; I go to work 40 hours a week, exercise three times a week, meal plan most weeks, and engaged in all sorts of other disciplined activities. I just stopped reading the Bible, stopped persevering when it didn’t give me what I wanted right away.
I drifted and I didn’t even know it. I drifted because of the systems I had set up for myself; because of what the world was telling me was important. The enemy didn’t even have to do anything; he just sat back and watched as I became more concerned with myself and more preoccupied with making myself better.
So back to the lady in the green chair. Her faith unwavering. Her trust in God steadfast and strong. She believed. She also read her Bible. Correction, she ingested her Bible, taking big gulps and bites of the mystery which carried her through the hardest of times. Hardships that would cause many people to struggle with faithfulness. No one would have been surprised if she had drifted; they probably would have expected it.
Now I’m not saying that doubting is bad; I believe questioning and wrestling are Biblical. The Psalmist questions and wrestles like none other. But questioning and wrestling without the foundation and backdrop of Scripture, of what the mystery is pointing us to, is the problem. When we start doubting without engaging with God, and I mean really engaging with God, that is when we end up somewhere we never intended – somewhere in the midst of confusion, doubt, and throwing in the towel.
So I want to encourage my fellow drifters. Read your Bible, study your Bible, ingest your Bible. Don’t let the contentment with the instantaneous gratification of working out, Netflix, consumerism (pick your poison), take priority over engaging the mystery of the Scriptures. Begin and end with the Bible, question and wrestle with it, throw it across the room, scream, cry, leap, dance, laugh, and most of all persevere in reading it. It will be hard, but I assure you somewhere down the line it will be worth it. It likely won’t seem worth it right away, God doesn’t work like Instagram or a microwave. He takes time, but his time is always well spent, and yours will be too if you spend your time with God in His mystery.