I’ve been struggling with my faith for months now.
I suppose it would be more correct to say that I’ve been struggling with religion rather than faith, because my faith has let me push on through things as much as I can though. My prayers, when I can make myself pray, have felt hollow, and seemed to have bounced off the floor of heaven right back to me. The apparent silent response from God was aggravating, hurtful, and confusing. I’ve still played and sung worship songs, but at times felt as though I was cheating, or being hypocritical. But I’ve prayed, and I’ve played, and I’ve sung, because my faith kept me going. But the religion part of it was troubling.
I’ve wondered about and doubt all sorts of things, from the inerrancy of the Bible to the idea of the Three Wise Men being present at Christ’s birth, to the idea that He was born in a lonely stable or cave. Why is it always three wise men? And why do we as Christians show them at His birth, when the accounts in the Gospel don’t mention numbers, and pretty clearly state they showed up much later?
Why do we ignore historical accounts of what Hebrew living conditions were like around the beginning of the first millennium in our rush to portray our Savior’s birth as private and lonely?
Articles like this one at Relevant Magazine ring so loudly in their connection to my soul that I sometimes wonder how I can ever consider myself a Christian, because the actions of so many Christians seem to contradict my beliefs and my understanding.
Does that make me wrong, or is it them?
Does that matter?
That article lead me to another that wondered about the Virgin Birth, and asked why it’s basically never referenced in later books of the Bible. That rabbit hole led me to other posts and books about how the order of the books of the Bible is not chronological at all. How many people, Christian or otherwise, knew that the chronologically second book in the New Testament was actually 1 Thessalonians, not the Gospel of Mark? So if Man translated the books, and Man ordered the books, is the Bible still inerrant?
None of this helped my confusion or doubt.
The day after Christmas, I was driving to McAllen, Texas to begin a Work & Witness trip through Southern Nazarene University with two of my kids. I wanted to do the trip. I’ve enjoyed the two others I went on. I knew it was going to be construction, and I enjoy things like that. But I was still feeling my doubts. Was I going because of the biblical command to serve others, or was it for more selfish reasons? I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and that’s what I was going to do, despite the questions I had in my heart.
As we headed south through Texas, I had music playing from my phone as I worked on the sequel to The Sad Girl. The Oak Ridge Boys started singing “Come, Now is the Time to Worship.” Musically, that’s just a beautiful song, especially with the harmonies those voices produce. I like the song in general, but really appreciate their arrangement. I paused in my writing (my son was driving) and listened to the lyrics.
Come. Now is the time to worship.
Come. Now is the time to give your heart.
Come. Just as you are, to worship.
Come, just as you are, before your God.
Christians often think of it as saying, “drop whatever it is you’re doing, because right now is the time to worship your God. One day everyone will, but right now, you should.” They tend to focus on the first half of the verse.
It struck me that Friday evening that the second part of the verse is just as important.
Just as you are. Come.
Doubts and confusion and wonder and questions and all.
Even if you question Him, if you’ve claimed him as your God, then worship Him. He isn’t less God if you have doubts or questions, about Him, His Word, or his followers.
The God who created the universe isn’t going to be hurt if you wonder about the words written about Him, or question some of the people who claim to follow Him about their understanding of Him or those words. He loves us, doubts and questions and sin and all.
So, come. Now is the time to worship.