DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 12/16/13 – The One Who Was to Come

DayBreaks for 12/16/13 – The One Who Was to Come

Matthew 11:3 (NLT)  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

John wasn’t the only one who ever asked this question.  There are many at this time of year who ask the same question.  Perhaps you are one of them. 

At Christmas we talk a lot about joy and peace and we sing songs about being merry, joyful and adoring of the Bethlehem Baby.  It would be enough, to an alien from another planet, to make one think that only good things happen at Christmas, that all struggles are banned and that there simply is no room for non-faith.  Would that it were that simple, right?  At present, I know far too many who are struggling with cancer, heart issues, mysterious illnesses, suicides, violence, broken relationships and the like.  It is enough, given the joyful noises we make at Christmas, to make one wonder if there’s any truth to this “I bring you tidings of great joy….” bit. 

We are possessed with the idea that if we follow the Christ, our life will somehow be smoother, or at least all fit together in a way that makes good sense to us.  Then we run smack into the reality that the only guarantees Jesus made to us had to do with what comes after this life. In fact, Jesus very clearly expected and said that his followers would have a harder time getting through this life than those who walked away. But we still have these expectations (perhaps more so at Christmas than any other time of the year) of a “Savior” and what he’d be like and what he’d do, and when Jesus doesn’t meet them we begin to wonder…and perhaps doubt, if he is really who we thought he was.  Many are the empty church pews that used to be full of people who believed in Jesus Christ. But, at some vital point in time, he didn’t live up to their expectations and they went home and never returned. When their families still fought, they still faced frightening decisions, and couldn’t make ends meet on a budget, they began to wonder if they had made a mistake with Jesus.

Maybe that’s what happened to John. He said he had come to baptize with water, and the one following him would baptize with “fire from heaven.” So where was the fire? John couldn’t see any. So far there wasn’t even smoke. So far, the Pharisees and Sadducees were still in charge of the faith, and Rome was still in charge of the visible world. In fact, instead of bringing in the kingdom, Jesus had kept pretty quiet up north while John got himself arrested and thrown into one of Herod’s dungeons on a mountaintop down by the Dead Sea. That might make a person ask some questions. Is this how a real Messiah would behave?  Would He let this happen?

I have no idea if that’s what happened to John or not.  I’d like to think it’s as plausible as any other explanation.  Regardless, I take some real comfort from John’s doubting.  If John the Baptist, as high up as he ranked (Jesus said no man born of woman was greater than John!), still had some questions, maybe there is room for me and questions, now at Christmas or at any other time.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Christmas and for stories of great heroes who struggled in their lives with believe and doubt.  Thank you for the encouragement that you will never ultimately disappoint those who remain true!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be?

DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be

Must I always be...your Thomas?

 I found this poem and I thought it might bless you today.  There is freedom in being honest with Jesus about both the good and bad:

“Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to burn a whole bush.

Just a few smoking branches

And I would surely be …your Moses.

 

“Let me meet you on the water, Lord, Just once.

It wouldn’t have to be on White Rock Lake.

Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain

And I would surely be…your Peter.

 

“Let me meet you on the road, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to blind me on North Central Expressway.

Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel

And I would surely be…your Paul.

 

“Let me meet you, Lord, Just once.

Anywhere. Anytime.

Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes

Must I always be…your Thomas?” – Norman Shirk, April 10, 1981, KQ (Dallas Seminary)

PRAYER: Thank you for understanding our faith and doubt, failings and triumphs, our hopes and wishes versus the reality of our shortcomings!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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