Is this all there is to Life?

I admit it. I am the man that is double minded. I feel closer to God one day, and farther away the other. I have faith one day, and doubt the next.  I feel encouraged to pray or reflect today, and tomorrow I don’t want to hear anything about God or Jesus. I am easily influenced by circumstances. I am the man described by the book of James in the Bible which says that “because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (Ch. 1:7-8).”

I need to be honest about who I am, I don’t want to do what I used to do in the past.  I used to pretend that I firmly believe in everything that other Christians claim to be the ultimate truth.  I used to force myself to pray in certain ways simply because it was what was expected.  It was strictly religion.  But what I do now is to be open to various interpretations.  No, I am not creating my own religion, although I may be doing exactly this without noticing it.  Neither am I agnostic, because I believe there is a God. But I am not sure who or what this God really is. Although sometimes I can feel Him very close to me.  And sometimes I do not.  I am inconsistent.  The book of Revelation  claims that Jesus says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Ch. 3:15-16).” This is a strong message, stating that Jesus will reject me when I am inconsistent.  It says He wishes I am either hot or cold.  Does this mean he will accept me if I am consistently away or close to God?  I don’t believe so.  But this same chapter continues with Jesus saying that people who are lukewarm say they are “rich”.  I don’t claim this, although I sometimes fall under the erroneous presumption that I am already heading towards that right direction, failing to be “poor in spirit”, as Jesus said he prefers us to be in order to have the Kingdom of Heavens (Matthew 5).  I understand also that this chapter refers to a particular early church in Laodicea. Should I interpret it pertaining exclusively to this historical church, or also to the present lukewarm church, like myself?  Don’t know.

But I read further in this passage, and feel a strange inspiration when I come across the statement that says “  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  Sometimes I hear the door knocking, but I am afraid to open it.  I am afraid that when I open the door there is nothing on the other side.  I am afraid of living an illusion.  But I am also afraid of not opening the door, because I might miss the greatest opportunity ever.  You see, I have opened the door before, or so I thought, and the joy was there, but with time, it disappeared, because of my double mind.  I feel tears in my mind while reading this passage, because I don’t want to reject God/Truth/Life.  But I don’t want to fool myself with empty hopes.  If God truly loves me, then He must be rebuking me and disciplining me, like this last verse says.  This is probably why I going through a spiritual tribulation.

I am also like Thomas, the disciple who doubted until he saw the resurrected Jesus. He told Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed (John 20:29).  Could this mean that I am not blessed if I keep looking for evidence instead of having bling faith?  I am certainly not completely happy and content.  But at the same time, if I am content, then I will not feel motivated to seek more of God.  I may be blessed and happy to simply believe, but I will not know more of God.  I also recently understood that having faith like “a seed of mustard”,  will enable me to do great things, which also means I don’t have to have great  faith (Luke 17:6).   I am not necessarily underestimating God’s power by looking for evidence, I may actually be glorifying Him even more if I keep searching to know more about the nature of His power.

If I am wrong for being double minded,  I can accept that.  What I cannot accept is that knowing God is simply believing everything that other “believers” claim.  I want more from God.  I want to actually feel closer to God, not be content with a few doctrines that is convenient to our selfish desires and cultural norms.  I don’t want to claim to believe certain things in order to be politically correct.  My goal should not be to please others, but God. I live in a constant spiritual struggle, which many might say is the “evil” versus the “good” in my body, like Paul describes in the letter of the Romans (Ch.7:1524).  But, is my doubting an evil thing?  I cannot accept this either. My understanding of evil is to be selfish and to exclude other people.  Doing good is to be inclusive, to love others regardless.  If I claim that my faith is the right one, and everyone else who thinks differently is wrong, then this is true evil.

So what I still have firmly is the thought and belief that I must serve others to live the Kingdom of Heaven.  This I don’t doubt.  It also does not mean to expect a reward, like this world only knows to do.  But to simply and genuinely reach out and help the poor, the hungry, the needy, the sick, the homeless, the mentally ill, the handicapped, and everyone else who is considered “the least of these”.  Jesus identified himself with these people.  I still hope that, by doing this, I will know God more, in spite of my many doubts.  In spite of my double mind.  Because what I see with my physical eyes cannot be all there is to Life.


 

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About Noel

I am a person who has realized that the teachings of Jesus are centralized in the genuine care and service of others. I have evolved from fundamentalism to a moderate spiritual approach. I am a reflecting person who has grown to not fear doubt but to embrace it as a means to growth and increasing closeness to God. View all posts by Noel

16 responses to “Is this all there is to Life?

  • robinb333

    It’s your honesty and need to understand that allows you to seek God’s face. A wonderful post. I only wish others could be so honest…. Thanks for sharing…Robin

  • Jenny

    It’s all so complicated isn’t it? But I think people make it that way. It’s not our nature to embrace mystery and inconsistency and uncertainty so we create religion where we pretend to know the answers. What if it’s really as simple as the golden rule…treat others as you want to be treated? How much nicer would the world be? Keep sharing your journey. There are lots of us out here seeking a greater meaning to life.

  • Mark Ketchum

    Your journey is similar to most Christians… they just don’t honestly blog about it.

  • Cindy Holman

    It’s a hard thing to admit – but I am just like this too – one day – full of faith and strong – the next day weak and feeling inadequate. It is a journey full of twists and turns that make this Christian life full of fun and excitement as we keep pressing forward toward the prize – and bumping up against His furious love for us. Great post, Noel.

  • Bill Howdle

    This is a great post, your openness and honesty is so refreshing. I think most struggle as you do but are not brave or honest enough to admit it. I believe each of us individually must establish our own relationship with God. This may or may not fall in line with the views of established Churches. Were not these Churches established at some time in the past based on the understandings and beliefs of but another human.
    I have to believe that God with His infinite wisdom sees us for whom we are, human beings with the weaknesses that come with that.
    As such could He expect perfection from us each and every day? I do not believe so and certainly hope not. What I believe is that He instead expects us to keep trying. Trying our best to be the best person we can. That you are doing my friend and I thank you for that.
    Bill

  • hifzan shafiee

    Yes, a great post,

    In our religion it called “heart”.

    today faith increase, tomorrow our faith decrease.
    Today we hardworking, tomorrow we become lazy.
    Today we love that lady, next day we hate the lady.
    Inconsistent. That the nature of heart.

    ‘Surely there is in the body a small piece of flesh; if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted, and that is surely the heart’. [ Imam Bukhārī in his sahih]

    http://hifzanshafiee.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/where-is-your-heart/

  • Pat

    Hi Noel
    Yes God is aware of your feelings and He loves you still,nothing can pull you out of God’s hands. I want you to look up scriptures on “grace”,God’s grace cannot be explained but it’s real and it’s ours.You’re seeking after God and He will give you the assurance you need to hold on to your faith In Him,and to keep moving forward. I don’t have all of the answers but God does,and just know that He will give you more true knowledge of himself. I’ve been through what you’re going through now and it’s a very hard place,but some how God brought me through and He will do the same for you. I’ve got good help here http://gooddevotionals.wordpress.com I enjoy reading for Christians that are more mature can give loads of help and that’s why I share them.
    Love you

  • Young

    Beautifully raw and honest.

    I love this: “I want more from God. I want to actually feel closer to God, not be content with a few doctrines that is convenient to our selfish desires and cultural norms. I don’t want to claim to believe certain things in order to be politically correct. My goal should not be to please others, but God.”

    It reminds me of a quote from Misty Edwards — “I don’t want the reputation that I love God, I don’t want to write songs about loving God, I don’t want to talk about loving God, I want to actually love God!”

    God bless you.

  • Noel Delgado

    Thanks everyone, for commenting. The spiritual journey that I am living will continue with its ups and downs.

    Robin, I also wish everyone can be honest, I only want to be transparent with God and others.
    Jenny, I also believe it is as simple as the Golden Rule, simplicity is the key.
    Mark, Cindy, and Bill, thanks for letting me know that I am not alone, it is a relief to know that other believers go through similar struggles.
    HIfzan, thank you for sharing about your faith, I wish we all can see the similarities instead of the differences among us.
    Pat, thanks for the link… God’s grace is awesome.
    Young, thanks for the quote, it directly relates to my post.

    God bless you all.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    You have a really good blog here. I’m going to have to leave before I spend all night leaving responses! What you are describing is so normal and I don’t think God holds it against us at all. If we just “knew”, it wouldn’t be called faith. Heck, John Eldredge says that he has a sign right next to his bed that says “God is real” because often he forgets that fact during the night.

    You know, through out the Old Testament, when someone had an encounter with God, there were often instructed to build a stone altar at the sight of the encounter. It was usually given a name with some indication of what happened there. That way, when faith faltered, the person or their descendants would have a physical reminder of what God had done there. In the book Hines Feet in High Places, the main character carries a small pouch with rocks in it. Each rock is a reminder of some encounter with God. When she is most in need and ready to quit because the path is too hard, she pulls out those rocks and remembers. I have also found it absolutely essential to look back and remember the times that I encountered God and knew it was real. Because sometimes I’m afraid that I’m just a crazy person who is ruining my life trying to follow a man who lived 2000 years ago. But then I look back and remember that, yes, I have been touched by the living God and it was very real. So I keep moving forward.

    Also, I think that God is probably very pleased that you are venturing out beyond what everyone else believes. God is a living God and our understanding of Him is supposed to grown and even change over time. So many people seem to think that being a good Christian means figuring out what’s “true” and sitting on that until they die. But this flies in the face of everything God has created – it all grows! No plant sprouts and goes “I’m just going to maintain now” – it keep growing until it looks nothing like the sprout it once was. We Christians should be treating the faith handed down to us as a starting point for our faith, not the end point. And unfortunately, a lot of what passes for Christianity today is pretty much identical in spirit and attitude to the Jewish rulers of Jesus’ time. And Jesus rejected the “correct” beliefs of his time as well. It’s not easy and there are those who will insist that you are not being faithful, but Jesus was told the same thing. He went this way before and as long as you keep looking to him – no matter if you feel lukewarm or ice cold or red hot – he will show you the way because he has passed this way before. 🙂

    • Noel

      Rebecca, your words are very inspiring. You have no idea how happy I am to find people who share the same thought about life. Now that I think about it, you are right when you describe the many times that, in the Old Testament, people had to build altars to remind themselves of what God has done. The people of Israel traveled for 40 years in the desert finding the “promised land” because they kept forgetting that God delivered them from the Egyptians. They kept losing faith, and regaining faith. I feel pretty much like that group of people. I am also sometimes afraid that I am just delusional and wishful thinking about following a dead man who taught nice things about life 2000 years ago. But then I pray hard (reflect) and somehow regain my spiritual strength by believing again. I like the analogy you used of the flower. The way you write is very bold and “out of the box” , and I believe it is healthy. This is what my blog is all about. Living the Kingdom of Heaven, without relying on rigid doctrines that won’t allow me to learn more about God. I need to continue to grow to experience God even more. This is why, I believe that Salvation is a process, not just a single event. This is also why I believe that faith in the unconditional love of God must be proven by the genuine service of others in order to please God. Ultimately it’s all about God. Rebecca, you’re welcomed to comment as much as you want. Thank you again for visiting and sharing. God bless.

  • sl0wpoke

    Hi there Noel,

    You seem like an honest guy. That’s a good quality. The difficult thing about being honest, however, is that it forces you to change your mind when circumstances change, or when new information comes to light. People who manage to retain a rigid view under every set of circumstances aren’t full of faith or virtue; ultimately, they maintain what they have by rejecting what is put before them and lying to themselves. Honesty forces you to ask questions when you have doubts, and to think differently when you see differently. Stability and wisdom don’t come from having an unchanging idea about the world, but from adapting to conditions and remaining in harmony with what you observe and experience. Patience is a much greater virtue than constancy.

    • Noel

      Sl0wpoke, yours words are truly inspiring! Yes, when I am honest, I am forced to ask questions about life, God, and my existence. Although I don’t always change my mind then new information is presented to me. Remaining in harmony with what I observe, like you stated, is what is important, instead of resisting or discriminating against over views. I appreciate your comment ” Patience is a much greater virtue than constancy”

  • Tri

    I read your web page and I too am a born again Christian but back slipped a few years back and it changed who I am. Even though I go to church and get in the word I don’t see me improving in personality or character so I started a blog that would help me heal. If you have any advice or comment to make-I would love to hear or shall I say read it. Anything to help me in the road to recovery from the old and ugly to the heart of beauty living for Christ.

    • Noel

      Tri, The only advice I can give is to continue to seek God, being careful not to fall into the trap of trying to follow a specific doctrine or denomination. Allow yourself to ask questions, as long as you have a genuine desire to know God. But keep in mind that you cannot know God unless you are “poor in heart” and wait on Him. Matthew 5 is a great introduction to what I believe is the central theme of the Gospel. God bless.

  • Hopeful_watcher

    Noel, I believe that He knows our heart and doesn’t judge us for our failings but judges us for a lack of desire to not to fail. You honesty and big heart screams that you have the desire.

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… It doesn’t say blessed are the righteous. Keep looking up. Great blog you have here.

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