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Finding God In The Waves (Why Doubt Is Needed)

I just finished reading a book called  “Finding God In The Waves” by Mike McHargue 

Mike writes about his journey from southern baptist-ism, to atheism, and back to God. When he comes back to faith the second time it looks much different this time around. 

It’s one of the most authentic, real, and honest books about faith I’ve read since “Find God In The Ruins” by Matt Bays. (Must be something about finding God) 

It’s easy to tip toe around questions of  faith. I feel like I need to have all the right answers to every question that comes my way. I need to have the “right” theology. This book isn’t about having all right answers. It’s not about having the “right” theology. It’s about Mike’s journey, what he learned along the way, and what He’s learning about Jesus. 

A big part of why it’s easy to tip toe our way around questions of faith is because of certainty. There’s a belief that I have to have all the answers. I need to be certain especially when it comes to Jesus and Christianity.

I thought I needed to know everything about Jesus, or at least, once I became a Christian there would be a point when I finally “got it”.

The longer I follow Jesus the more I’m realizing there is no “got it” point.

Mike uses the illustration of holding our Christian faith in an open hand versus a close fist. He says, “But I’ve learned that the need for certainty is an addiction we can kick—that it’s possible to have faith, and even follow Christ, without needing to defend historical Christianity like a doctoral thesis. We can approach beliefs not as gems to be mined from the earth and protected with clenched fists, but as butterflies that land on an open hand—as gifts to enjoy but not possess.” 

For a long time, I would hold my ideas and beliefs about faith with clench fists. I couldn’t question or let anything I believed escape my grasp.

Questioning any part of faith meant I was questioning Jesus. Questioning Jesus meant I was traveling too close to Atheistland.

If I questioned something about faith I was told the “answer”. This answer gave me certainty. This felt good because I needed certainty—I needed to know that these ideas were right. Once they were “right” then I could hold them and never let them go.

Certainty became my faith. Certainty was my God.  

When my beliefs were questioned I become afraid and through this fear I would become angry, sometimes, I was downright mean. I needed certainty and I was afraid of lose it. The fear of losing certainty led me to act in a way that was the opposite of Jesus. I thought Jesus and certainty couldn’t be separated.

If I wasn’t certain then that meant I was doubting. There was no room for doubt. Doubt and Jesus were enemies.

Mike quotes Brene’ Brown who says, “‘the opposite of faith is not doubt. Faith and doubt need each other. The opposite of faith is certainty.’ When I heard that, I realized, no wonder I was such a screwed-up Fundamentalist. But when I left the doubt just be there, my faith grew.”

We need faith for sure, but just as much as we need faith, we need doubt. Doubt is the thing that is able to test our faith. Doubt is how we know what we truly believe. 

Ever since I was able to pick up something I was told you can’t leave it out. I need to pick up my toys and put them away. My doubt was no different. Doubt was something I could get out, look at, but it had to be put away. When it was time for church doubt needed to put back in the chest and locked up.

When I allowed certainty to move out and doubt to remain something changed.

Jesus came into the house and sat down with me.  He saw that I was playing around with my doubt. He didn’t panic, give an answer, or was even worried about it. When I realize someone was there I look up and saw Jesus. Immediately I tried to clean everything up and make it look nice. Jesus said, “Go and pull out the rest of your doubts, I knows there’s more and it’s okay. Carry those with you. They are a part of you and your story.”  

Doubt can’t be separated from us.

Doubt can’t be separated from faith. 

Doubt needs to be held alongside faith. 

The times when my faith has grown the most have been the times when I’ve doubted the most. Tweet This

Certainty has never led me closer to Jesus.

I’ve viewed doubt as a math problem to solve. Once I find the answers I’ve solved my doubt. The only problem is more doubts comes. There’s more problems to be solved. It never goes away. 

I’m learning doubt is something I use to test what I believed. My faith and definitely God should be strong enough to stand alongside my doubt.

Doubt is something that has felt very lonely, and sometimes it is, but the one constant in my doubt has been Jesus. Doubt doesn’t scare Him away. It doesn’t make him angry. What doubt does is it brings Jesus closer.

He doesn’t move closer to give me answers. Jesus doesn’t give me certainty. He’s there to show me the way to hold my doubts and faith in the same hand. 

Yes, I have more questions than answers, but instead of being afraid and seeing certainty as my god, now I see Jesus as my God. Doubt is the thing that I was most afraid of, but doubt is what brought me closer to Jesus. Doubt is what brought Jesus back into focus.

I’m allowing Jesus to walk through my doubts with me, with an open hand. I’m no longer hiding them from Him. As I live this way the only thing I’m certain of is Jesus’ presence, which I’m learning, is all I need.


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