Doubt and Faith
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand."
Dusk was falling outside as I sat, twitchy in hesitation, with fellow 14-year-olds in the parlor of the First Presbyterian Church of LaGrange, IL. In an hour we were to be confirmed at the Maundy Thursday service. Weeks of preparation had led us to this moment. One step remained: a one-on-one talk with a church elder. By chance, my elder was to be Vera Larson – a wise woman and a friend of my mother. In a side room, alone with Vera, I pressed on.
“I have doubts,” I confessed, determined to be honest. I did not believe in the stories in the Bible in the way I imagined some other Christians did, something I thought I was being called to do. My confession implied an important question: What is faith?
Vera assured me that “there will always be doubts in a Christian life.” On these grounds she recommended me for confirmation. Vera was right: in such a life, moments of doubt occurred against an abiding background of faith.
Today I put doubt aside and seek faith in an awareness that, as Jesus says, the kingdom of God is at hand. The Immortal, Invisible is present everywhere, all of the time, even when the press of daily life makes us oblivious to its presence.
Faith for me, then, is a mode of perception. An artist like Bach, for example, surely perceived God when he was composing his works. I, too, can perceive the Divine when I gaze at a starry sky, contemplate certain poems, or make connections in a community of mutual goodwill. Nature, art, community – all are ways of experiencing the transcendent, enduring Divine that is already and always at hand.
Prayer: God of the firmament, who moves in mysterious ways, may we recognize your presence when we gaze at your creation, or contemplate the artist’s work, or share charity with one another. May we know, even in our moments of doubt, that you are present and abiding.