The Flip Side of Belief

The duality of belief has left me reeling in frustration. How can I claim to believe and know and trust when I am {at the same time} fearing, doubting and running? I think back to the father who met Jesus in hopes of his son being healed. He knew what it meant to walk the tightrope of belief – to both believe something fully and fully doubt all at once.
He was so honest with Jesus:

 “Listen, I DO believe. But I need your help to overcome this unbelief.”

I only hope I can be as real with Jesus as he was.


When we walk into a dark room and flip on a light switch we are adding the presence of the light to the presence of the darkness. The space around it becomes illuminated. But if we venture far enough away from the light we are met again with darkness. When we turn the light on it still sits in darkness. The only difference is that in the nearness something has changed.

I see faith the same way.

A light has come on for me in certain ways and in certain places.
Around me, in the closeness of my abiding with the Father, something has changed. I am sure of the change. I would bet my life on it. I will go to my earthly grave proclaiming it. But, the further away I go, I still see darkness. I still see racism, injustice, hurt, evil. I still see the places, people, and pressures that have not yet collided with this change.

So yes, I believe. And yes, I am certain.
And yes, I also have doubts and still desperately need help with my sometimes crippling unbelief.

In those moments I tend to get anxious about the things I am uncertain of, the spaces where my belief is far from strong {if present at all}. Often, my default is to seek out my doubts and the things I don’t understand. I have become a master at finding them and then fixating on them. Even though now I sit in in the light, I often set my eyes on the darkness…on the lack…on the uncertainty. This can be a frustrating place to exist. And the longer I find myself in this spot the more I realize that maybe pointing out the dark and trying to force it to be light is not the best approach. The light doesn’t exist because the darkness has fled. John 1:5 doesn’t say that the light shines because the darkness has been defeated. It says the Light shines in the darkness and is not overcome by it. The light works in spite of the darkness, within the darkness, with the darkness, dare I say even for the darkness.

Over the summer, I accidently left a light on all day because I simply didn’t notice it was on. Once it got dark enough outside, I realized the lamp was on; illuminating a lonely corner in our house. I recognized it, appreciated it, and needed it even more when the darkness was present.

Maybe the answer isn’t to cower under the weight of the shadows and welcome unbelief with tear-stained open arms but to live abundantly in spite of it and recognize the ways it pushes us to appreciate and identify the light. Because the hard truth is that no matter how much knowledge you gain, how much scripture you memorize, how many lies you dispell, the doubts will always be there. Some unbelief will always be there. At least mine will be. But I believe the freedom comes in living abundantly in both. The light and the darkness. The faith and the doubts. The belief and the unbelief.

I’m learning how possible it is to be so full of belief and still have that very belief reek of unmatched doubt. I’m learning just how possible it is to trust and act but still doubt the very thing that you are doing. I’m learning how possible is is to live in the dual world of belief and unbelief. I now see that the flipside of belief is unbelief. I don’t think they are opposites as much as they are just two inseparable sides of the same coin. My belief and my unbelief are simply catalysts for each other. I don’t think they are exclusive anymore. They’re inclusive – the depth and darkness of one making way for the height and great light of the other.

I’ve spent too much of my life as a believer in agony over my doubts – beating myself up about my constant unbelief – hiding my face from the very one who welcomes me in SPITE of my dualism. It’s time to embrace it and trust the one who goes to battle for us. Because, while unbelief will try and wrestle our every certainty to the ground and bury it alive, belief is a fighter.

That’s why I’ll take on the fight again tomorrow and the next day. That’s why I’ll step into darkness, despite this dualism, and thank the Lord for yet another opportunity to strengthen my faithless muscles.

Though I know what’s on the flip side, I know belief really is a fighter.
I hope mine will keep taking on the fight and bounce off the ropes
to turn the light on for someone else. 

 

 

 

 

 

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