Recently, I inadvertently wound up in a debate with some atheist friends. I didn’t intend to debate – God knows, I hate debates. I just asked what I thought was a simple question… “How can anyone look out at this amazing, beautiful, screwed-up, imperfectly perfect world and wonder, is there a god?” I stumbled over easily refuted facts and figures and was shot down with science at every turn. Now, I love science and am simply fascinated by it. I just think that the more we learn about the Earth and about humanity, it only further proves that there had to be a Creator. Maybe that makes me uneducated and simple… if so, then I am happily guilty.
One of these friends, in turn, asked me a question. “Is there a god? How do you know?”
Well, in truth – I have no proof. I haven’t seen God. I haven’t touched Him. I haven’t had a burning bush come alive and talk to me. There have been no loud, booming voices in the middle of the night. There have been no glowing angels appearing at my beside. And yet, I believe – in spite of my doubt.
Doubt is absolutely essential to faith. Without doubt – there is no faith, only fact.
So, yeah, I’ll admit that I have doubts – big ones – all the time. However, I can tell countless stories of when I knew that there was Someone unseen at work in my life. Today, I’ll tell you one.
Let’s rewind to the end of 1999.
Voluntarily, I checked myself into Mercy Ministries. It was 300 miles away from my parents and my friends. For the sake of my unborn baby, I had no choice but to get clean and get my life back on track. Then, one month after my arrival, I miscarried. Had I miscarried one day later, my parents would have been out of the country, and my sister would have been on tour with one of the bands she worked with. As it happened, my parents were in my city to catch their flight and staying with my sister. They never left my side through the whole ordeal.
Suddenly, my entire reason for getting my life back on track was gone. I can remember telling my father before they took me into surgery, “When this is over, I want you to meet me with a Diet Coke, a pack of Camel Lights, and the car because I’m going home.”
My daddy crumbled. He knew – everyone knew – that if I went back home I would die. To this day, I can’t tell you what happened in that operating room, but I woke up with a renewed determination to go back to Mercy and finish the program.
When they delivered me back to rehab the following week, I had mail waiting for me. At the bottom of the stack was a letter from my friend (whom I will call) Joe. Joe was one of the few friends of mine from my hometown that kept in touch with me after I left. Joe wasn’t one of my “church friends,” but unlike all my other friends who had deserted me, he actually cared. As far as I know, Joe wasn’t a Christian or any kind of religious person.
In his letter, he wrote, I don’t know why, but I felt desperate to pray for you this weekend. You have been on my mind since Friday, and I can’t get you out of my head. I’m not some kind of preacher, and I don’t really do the whole ‘prayer thing,’ but for some reason I knew I had to pray for you, and I did. I hope everything is OK.
I grabbed the envelope and it was post-marked the Monday before – the day I checked out of the hospital. My miscarriage happened on Friday night.
For some, this can be easily written off as a coincidence. However, at that time, I was the GREATEST skeptic of God, Jesus, and the whole religious bandwagon. Had that letter been from ANYONE else – my brother, my pastor, my Sunday School teacher – I would have quickly dismissed the kind words. But that letter was from Joe – the guy that sold me cigarettes and beer when I was underage. It was WAY too weird to be a coincidence.
Thirteen years later I still have that letter, scribbled in pencil on a tattered piece of notebook paper. Joe has never understood that he was used by God to tell me, “I’m really here, and I’ve got this.” I reread it in my big moments of doubt and crisis.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt… you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” Note that Jesus said, “do not doubt.” That implies that doubt will be there; it doesn’t magically disappear. My past forever landed in the sea that day in 1999 because I allowed, against my own better judgement, my childlike faith to supersede my doubt. In turn, my whole life changed.
The stories that I tell of my drug abuse and teenage pregnancy in Daddy Issues and Pro-Choices are so far removed from who I am today that it often feels like I have read a book about someone else’s life and am giving a colorful book report. That, in and of itself, is grace.
Do you have a story of a moment when you KNEW that God was more than a well-rehearsed fairytale? Share them here!