Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why the Sky is Blue... the faith of a child, the doubts of an adult,

Last Sunday at church our pastor spoke about Thomas.  Good ol famous 'doubting Thomas'.  I am pretty new to this whole 'bible thing' (and yes, I can still poke fun at myself for my lack of knowledge, for my ability to miss almost everything I ever was told in Sunday School, church and even in my work in Catholic schools for the last 18 years...I am sooooo pathetic!!!) so I really didn't know much about Thomas but after Sunday's sermon I have grown to love this disciple for the 'real' character he was... so much to identify with.

John 20: 24-25

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[c] was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

And for eight long days Thomas was filled with doubt, with questions.  And who wouldn't be...what a miracle, what a concept to grasp.  Most of the disciples, Thomas included, deserted Jesus during the crucifixion.  They had seen the miracles Jesus performed first hand but they were confused by what was happening and it was easy to let doubts invade their minds.  They all did it but only Thomas put that doubt into words.  
Our pastor gave us much to think about regarding Thomas and his doubts.  As Pastor Jeff said, perhaps Thomas's nickname should not be 'Doubting Thomas' but rather 'Honest Thomas' because that is what he was... honest.  
How often do you have doubts about things in your life?  Do you believe those doubts make you weaker, make you struggle with questions?  I know that for years I have had doubts and for years I have felt that these doubts dragged me down and more recently, that these doubts were a sign I didn't trust God or that I wasn't willing to accept that God had my back.  But the truth is that all Christians have times of doubt and to deny this is not something that will move you forward.  God knows we have doubts and being honest with ourselves, with others and most importantly, with the Lord, is the key to being reassured.  

John 20: 26-29
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Jesus did not condemn Thomas for doubting, he did not ridicule him or push him away.  What did he do instead?.... He went to Thomas and gave Thomas the proof he needed and instructed him to believe.  

So if it was okay for Thomas to have doubts then it must be okay for us to have doubts don't you think?  

Sometimes I think that the faith of a child is the way to go.  Before your mind is clouded with the busy-ness of life, before the realities of life cast doubts in your mind...before all that you belief because you belief.
Recently I read a line in a novel by Susan Meissner that really put this in perspective and she touched my heart in a way that it hadn't been in a long time....

"But don't you wonder why God let it happen?" I asked. 
"For a long time I did want to know," she finally said.  "It seemed to me I deserved an answer.  Your daddy was a good man and a good father.  And he loved God. But deep down, I knew that sometimes God's reasons for doing things or not doing things are as deep as His character.  Being supplied with a reason when maybe I wouldn't have been able to understand it might have made it worse for me". 
She drew me close and said "Sometimes asking God for a reason for something is like asking Him why the sky is blue.  There is a complex, scientific reason for it but most children, including you, are content with knowing it is blue because it is.  If we understood everything about everything, we would have no need for faith".

The author goes on to have this character reflect on the words of her mother.  She says she never looked at the sky the same way after that and although she had many questions for many years she learned to be at peace with a sky that is blue for no given reason at all.  This character had been raped which resulted in the conception of a child.  She laments about the 'stupid things people say'...
'Well meaning friends would feel compelled to say, "We know God has a good reason for this" or "God must have a wonderful reason for allowing this to happen." And while I didn't doubt their sincerity, I did wonder if they had stopped to think .  Obviously they had never stopped to consider if God had a wonderful and good reason for making the sky blue instead of red.'

How often have you done just exactly this...asked why for questions that there just weren't answers for, searched for answers to the 'whys' of something that just makes no sense at all?  How often have well meaning people done just exactly what the friends of this character did....offered words like 'Everything happens for a reason' or better (okay much much worse) 'God must have had a wonderful job for loved one,  must have really needed them in heaven more then He needed them here'???  
So often the only reason that makes sense is just as simple as why the sky is blue...because it is, because we have to just have faith, just trust God and eventually, like a child, accept it.  It might seem impossibly hard but  no one ever said that life would be easy.  

Impossibly hard doesn't just belong with acceptance of why things happen but it also goes hand in hand with making decisions, knowing if the choice you are making is the right one, knowing if you are really hearing the voice of God in answer to your prayers for guidance or are you going down the path that seem right to you, is what YOU want.  Choices can be impossibly be hard but, even more so, is accepting the message, the guidance from the Lord when you need to make a decision.  
This too came up in this novel and I just felt like I had to share the others thoughts on choices and making decisions.  

"How do you know this is the right thing for you and Dad to do?"
How indeed? She was asking the question that sooner or later everyone who believes in a sovereign God asks.  Assuming God is the God of right things, how do you know the right thing from the wrong thing when both choices seem practical?  Does it matter to God which one you choose?  Has He chosen already for you but waits to see if you agree with His choice?  Then when you choose, does He thwart the plan He will not bless?  Or does He allow you to make a choice you will regret so that you will become wiser by experience? 

I bring this up, I was keyed into this passage, because it hits home.  There are so many decisions in my life to make these days it seems....well maybe I should say 'our' life.  I have really been turning to prayer to help make those decisions and just when I think that I heard God's voice correctly and/or God heard mine then something happens to make me doubt, make me question, make me wonder.  And like Thomas, I feel like I need proof, need better, stronger signs.  I can't just accept the answers that I am given sometimes or maybe I just can't figure out if I am hearing the answers or making them up myself.  And like Pastor Jeff said about Thomas, being honest about your doubts is better then pretending you never question anything, never wonder why things are happening.  
Do I think it matters to God what choice I make?  Yes.  Does it matter to God if I question my choices or His answers?  No...not really.  He expects it and He knows I am human.  Does He allow me to make mistakes?  For sure...ever heard of sin???    Whatever happens will happen and it will work itself out through God because ultimately it is His will, not ours.  When both of the choices seem practical and you can't decide what is right, when you are full of doubts I think you just have to go back to acceptance of your youth....the sky is blue because it is.  If we understood everything about everything, we would have no need for faith. 
Give it to Him, question Him, trust Him and accept the blue sky for what it is.