Have you ever had something in your life so spin you around that you just sit in awe of it?
That’s been my last two weeks.
Everything I thought I knew about me … everything that I thought I wanted … and everything I thought I didn’t want … it’s all up on the table again.
I had the most amazing conversation with Kara the night we went to the zoo about paths in life and how she really believes that God has a plan for her, if she has enough faith to see it. Not blindly follow. Not stand there and expect to be guided. But she searched it out, and found it. And things that seemed like random, unconnected events suddenly popped into place and made sense. Well, most of them.
I’ve spent the past two weeks with my head in a whirlwind of activity thinking about the past 15 years of my life – where I was, and where I am now; and came to the conclusion that it can’t be a series of random, unconnected events that brought me here, now. There has to something greater in the universe.
Most of my adult life I’ve been what you’d consider a doubting Thomas when it comes to faith (faith and religion are not intertwined … faith is belief in a higher power, that’s what I’m talking about here). Like Thomas the Apostle, I’ve been a proof-based person. Years of journalism … years of needing proof to believe what I’ve seen others just blindly accept.
And no, I’m not diving into this. Yeah, I’ve been around the past two weeks, but with the exception of massive talks with Kara about life, spirituality, and how it all fits together, my brain has been out on an extended vacation, just processing, trying to figure it all out, because I am unable to just accept “because” it is.
And I always thought it was entirely black and white. You either believed, or you didn’t. I never saw there was room for doubt, and question, even in those with the strongest faith; and that their faith is strongest because they don’t blindly follow. Yes, they believe, yes, they trust, and, yes, they question. Like Thomas.
If you’re not familiar with Thomas …You can crack open your Bible to John 20:24-29 (and for my longtime friends who are picking themselves up off the floor now, yeah, I know. I picked me up off the floor too, but you know me, I don’t like not knowing. I fear not knowing. Ignorance isn’t an answer I can accept from anyone, let alone myself. So yeah, I’ve read the Bible, twice); or read this, part of a sermon from the great spiritual leader Reverend C.L. Franklin, which just cemented it for me that yeah, doubts are good; questions are encouraged; and blindly following anyone, or anything, can often lead you the wrong way, or off your path.
Thomas, who was of the scientific turn of mind, heard some rumors. The women had said that they had seen him, and that he was alive. Others said that they were en route to Emmaus and he joined them and talked with them and while he talked their hearts burned.
Some of the rest of them reported that they had seen him. Lately it was said that in their secret gathering place in
to avoid the police and to avoid arrest and embarrassment, that he had come into their meetings. Jerusalem
But Thomas said, "I don't believe it. I don't believe it. Obviously you're being swept by rumors or you're suffering from hallucinations. Nobody has ever died as I saw that man die, and come back again. I was looking at them when they hung him to the tree. I was looking at them when they nailed his hands and his feet. I was looking when the soldier thrust the sword into his side. And I heard him when he dropped his head say, 'It is finished.' And I saw them take him down from the cross and lay him in Joseph's tomb.
I know he's dead. Now there's only one way that you can tell me anything different, and that is I'll have to see him. And I'm not going to trust that. He's going to have to show me his hands, and let me see the nail prints in his hands. He will have to let me look at his side, and then I will have to examine his side for myself. I must satisfy the sense of seeing, and of feeling before I shall be convinced. I don't believe that he's alive."
Now Thomas, has received a great deal of ridicule from the Christian world about his doubting position. But you know you must give some respect to people who want to know, to people who are not satisfied with hearsay. You must give some respect to people who want to base their faith upon as much knowledge as they can acquire. You see, superstition, rumor, and hearsay is not a sufficient foundation for faith. I know that faith transcends knowledge, but you get all the knowledge you can get before you stop.
For you see, Thomas was moving on fact. And you see fact can carry you just so far. It was a fact that Jesus was put to death, that he was hanged to a tree. It was a fact that he dropped his head and died, and declared, "It is finished." This was a fact. It was a fact that they took him down and laid him in a tomb.
All of this was fact. But that is so far as fact could go. This is the reason that Thomas couldn't go any farther because he was proceeding on the basis of fact. You understand what I'm talking about. His whole operation was based upon empiricism, investigation and what one can find out.
But you see, faith goes on beyond the grave. Faith doesn't stop at the grave. Faith didn't stop when they rolled the stone to the tomb. And faith didn't stop when the governor's seal was placed thereon. For you see faith goes beyond what I can see and what I know. I can't prove God.
And you don't have to prove God. Somebody said, “If you haven't seen God or you haven't seen heaven, and all that kind of thing.” That doesn't mean anything. Say, “Who's been there?” That doesn't mean anything. What you cannot prove, what you cannot see is no argument against its existence.
You can't see electricity but God knows it exists. You can't see energy, but take all the energy out of this room tonight and all of us would be dead shortly. Many of the forces of the universe, you can't prove them, you can't see them, you can't touch them, but they do exist. They are realities.
But Thomas was like many of you that are listening at me tonight. He wanted to base his faith totally upon fact. Totally upon faith or rather upon fact.
But you see faith moves out beyond what I can touch, beyond what I can investigate. I don't know where God is, but I believe he liveth.
I don't know anything about how he raised his Son. I'm not concerned about whether it was bodily or spiritual. I believe that Jesus liveth tonight. I believe that he is a living reality. He is a transforming influence in this old world of ours. Don't you know all these people wouldn't have been following him by the thousands and by the millions for twenty centuries if he didn't live? Don't you know all of these people who go to their graves with his name on their lips, saying, "Death cannot make my soul afraid if God be with me there, though I walk through the darkest shades, I'll never yield to fear. “If he didn't live tonight the great impact that his name has had upon history would not have changed the world society if he wasn't a living influence. I believe he liveth.
So Thomas wasn't at the meetings. And you know when you fail to meet constantly with that Christian fellowship you miss so much. You miss so much in inspiration, you miss so much in God-consciousness. You miss so much in soul enrichment when you fail to fellowship with that Christian society. So Thomas’s great mistake was he wasn't there. And when he came in after having given voice to his doubts, he eventually presented himself at one of the services.
And while they were no doubt musing and meditating upon God, singing his praises, while they were no doubt talking about the fact of his Resurrection, while they were no doubt talking about their faith in the fact that he was alive, without a door being opened he walked in. And than God he can walk in here without a door being opened. He can walk into your life sometime when you unconsciously open the door. The door of your life might be open and you don't know it. He can walk in.
While they were in their meeting he walked in, without a door being opened.
And when they looked around he was standing in their midst. When they looked around he was therein their presence. And it seemed that why his address was so consoling.
He knew how doubtful some of them were and he knew how their faith had been tried, and he knew what a terrible ordeal they'd gone through, and think about how consoling his address was Listen at him, “Peace be unto you.”
So what does this mean for me? I still don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still questioning things and questioning myself. I’m in wonderment here. I can’t believe something as simple as a conversation with someone could make my mind open so many doors. And people have knocked there before, but nobody’s answered.
And I have no idea where this is leading me, but I don't mind. I like this journey. I’m still wondering what’s real, what’s provable, and why if I’ve accepted so many things in life that can’t be proven, why I’ve stood so solidly against faith for so long.
But it’s funny, because I’m not at the bottom looking up in disbelief or clutching at straws like all those people who when they have nothing left "discover" God. For me, it was one seeming innocent conversation with a person I'm still getting to know, but who's opinion matters to me, and who's beliefs are solid, but often questioned. Not doubted, but not blindly followed, either.
I feel that I’m in an amazing part of my life right now, ripe for self-discovery, and finally have my eyes open to things I once blindly rejected.
So to say 2006 has been an interesting year for me, all six days of it, is an understatement. Which is why I want to borrow that Cray Supercomputer with the cerebral interface.
Because, as Rev. Franklin said, “He can walk into your life sometime when you unconsciously open the door. The door of your life might be open and you don't know it. He can walk in.”
I’m sitting here with a door that’s been opened … and a brain that’s just churning away because of it.
And I like that.