I don’t know you.
I have never walked a day in your shoes. I don’t know what you faced in the past or what you will face in the future. I cannot tell you your dreams or goals in life. And though upon first sight of you I would know the color of your eyes, yet I would not know the fear, uncertainty, or doubt that may lie behind them.
I don’t know you, but I know the One Who knows you inside and out.
He sees the fear that lies in your heart, as well as the doubt. He knows you loved Him once, but don’t now, that you love Him still, but don’t know how to show it, that you love Him wholeheartedly, and are simply trying to keep the faith, or that you have never loved Him at all. No matter where your heart is, He wants you to love Him as He loves you, because in Him is abundant life; life as it was meant to be.
You know His name, though you haven’t spoken with Him for a while, and have perhaps even avoided saying His name out loud. You may be angry with Him for things that have happened in your life, or things that have not happened. But sorrow or pain that leads to bitterness and hatred is not of Him. Sorrow that leads to repentance is another story altogether, and perhaps your sorrow will turn to repentance someday (2 Corinthians 6:10-11). But for now, you only have questions and doubts, and I have no power to dispel them. All I can do is tell you what I know; what I have learned in my own walk with Him, in my own walk with Jesus Christ.
One thing that I have learned is that doubt is not as evil as the church often paints it to be; it is actually visible evidence of a great gift that God has given, free will. God did not make us to be mindless automatons that blindly follow, but He gave us the ability to choose, to step into the fray of a life lived for God, or to abide on the path that leads to eternal separation from Him. It’s a dangerous business, to believe wholeheartedly in an awesome God Who gave His life for His creation, but the eternal blessing of knowing Christ as Lord and Savior far outweighs the temporal hardships and eternal curse of unbelief. So, though doubt is not an evil thing, it must ultimately lead to a deeper faith in Jesus, a more sincere faith; leaving behind all pretense and show. If doubt leads to hatred and/or denial of Christ, then, like so many things in this world, it has been corrupted by sin. But Jesus can redeem you from your doubt turned sour, just as He redeemed me. Your doubt may sit even now in the pit of your stomach, gnawing at your faith, and stealing your joy, when, all the while, you have every reason to hope and every reason to rejoice.
No matter what you have seen with your eyes or think you know, and no matter how you feel, you are loved by the One Who knows you inside and out: Jesus Christ, the Son of God… This is your wake up call.
Jesus came to earth, lived as a mortal man, humbled Himself, and put on perishable flesh. But, even though He became a man, was weak in every respect, and was tempted the same as you and me, yet He was holy, perfect, and righteous in all His ways. Instead of giving into sin, He chose to submit to the will of His Father. He healed the sick, brought the dead to life, and preached truth to those who needed it most. But Jesus’ greatest act of obedience was death on the cross. And because He obeyed His Father and gave His life up for the lost, God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)
You may have read that Scripture before, heard the Gospel for yourself, and even preached it to others. Maybe you were once so full of faith that you would have laid down your life for Jesus, just as He laid down His life for you. But today is different. Today, you carry the weight of sin on your shoulders. The Gospel you were told as a child, and as an adult, and the Gospel you shared, seems empty and hollow. You haven’t stopped searching for the answers to all of life’s question, but you just stopped believing that God could answer.
There was a time in my life, too, when doubt crept in and hardened my heart toward God. I was left screaming questions at Him, without any semblance of an answer. My doubts outweighed my faith and I was left empty and alone. I was angry, for no apparent reason other than that I heard no answer from God. Silence echoed my cries, and I refused to open God’s Word and read the answers for myself.
I could have lived like that for a long time. I could have held onto my doubts and made my questions seal my tomb, but, somehow, God pierced through the darkness of my heart and showed me that I am found in Him. No longer do I have to wander from pasture to pasture, seeking to fulfill my selfish, sinful pleasures, while never actually being filled. Instead, I can rest in the fold where Jesus watches over His sheep, guides them, and leads them. I still don’t have the answers to all of life’s questions, but I rest in the simple knowledge that, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than my ways, and His thoughts than my thoughts. (Isaiah 55)
I am not God, and what a relief that is. I don’t have the power to condemn a soul, nor do thousands curse my name simply because I don’t give them all they desire. There are not millions of people that worship me and look to me for comfort and rest; they look to the Savior Who suffered on their behalf, so that they might have rest in Heaven. No human on earth, in all the history of mankind, could answer all the faith-shaking, earth-shattering questions that proceed from the mouths of men; questions like, “Why did God make man when He knew that man would disobey and sin?”
That question was one that shook my world and rocked my faith. I had read through the Bible six times, prayed daily, journaled, served at a Bible Camp, and been a leader in a Christian organization in college, yet I saw how empty every action was without faith and without Jesus. One question shook my firm foundation and I didn’t think there could be an answer, simple or otherwise, but Isaiah 55 kept creeping up into the back of my mind, and it was basically saying to me, “You will never know the answer, but if you seek Me, you will find Me, and I will pour My Word into you and through you, and I will bless you abundantly.” God showed me how empty my efforts were apart from Him. His grace alone sustained and it is His pleasure and will to use me. He provides wisdom, strength, and faith itself. Without Him, life would end. With Him, life never ends.
I do not have the mind of God or the heart of God to know the answer to the question that rocked my world, but God rocked my world even more with one answer: I love you.
God made all of mankind and everything that is on this planet and beyond it. And when He made mankind and the whole universe, He called it, good. He was pleased in His work and in His creation, and was satisfied in how it was made. And before sin came into the picture, He walked and talked with mankind daily. He loved to watch the souls of His children thrive under the shadow of His wings, and He wanted His children to love others as much as He loved them. From the beginning, He had no wish to force His creation to love (or obey), because then they could never love like He loves or fully experience the free will that He gave.
God gave mankind the choice to love their Creator and faithfully steward His creation, or not. The first man and first woman chose to disobey, so the job of stewarding the creation became that much more difficult. But as sin came once by man, Adam, so life and redemption came once by Man, Jesus Christ. Though mankind forsook their purpose to love, honor, and obey, yet Jesus made a way to restore that purpose and restore the relationship between Him and His creation. Too many people choose to love the creation more than the Creator. When love is thwarted, purpose is forsaken and traded in for slavery. But this slavery does not result from lives that have been stolen from home and sold into servitude, but lives that willingly gave themselves up and continue to submit to the cruel masters that enslave them.
I don’t know you, but I know you want a life that is joyful, purposeful, and full of meaning. In Christ is abundant life. He alone knows your heart and can transform your darkness into light. No matter how far you have fallen or how much you scream, God still loves you and desires the best for you. His best may not be what you most desire, but it will bring an eternal blessing to you. Trust Him, cry out to Him, listen to Him, and He will lift you up and carry you through.
This is the truth I have come to know, and I pray you will come to know it, too.
Every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money, come you, buy, and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfies not? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto Me. Hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, you will call a nation that you know not, and nations that knew not you will run unto you because of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you.
Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not again, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
“For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55)