Archives for January 2013

How Doubting God Helped Me Realize He Is Real

Welcome,
Today, I am honored to have as a guest a fellow Tribe writer and friend…
James Prescott…all the way from UK. 
James is a wonderful and inspiring writer who finds “divine hope in the messiness of life.”
His transparency, vulnerability, and longing for God, often identical to our own, strike a cord in the hearts of his readers.
Thank you, James, for accepting my invitation to post at my site.
A great friend and teacher you are, always blessing me with your words!
How Doubting God Helped Me Realize He Is Real

The summer of 2012 was a rough time in my relationship with God. There was one day in particular, where my inner anger and frustration with God, all my resentment, bitterness, envy, at my past and my circumstances now was boiling up inside.

 

It couldn’t quite be seen on the surface.

But it was there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to calmly reflect on this. As I thought it through I made it clear to God that there was no doubting my belief in Him.

 

Because there isn’t.

 

I don’t have any doubts about the existence of God, or that Jesus was exactly who He said He was and did the things described in scripture. That’s never been an issue at all. The dispute came because in my emotional pain I started to doubt God’s character, and how He felt about me.

 

That’s a very different thing. It can actually be annoying. Because sometimes a part of me wants to just walk away, but I can’t.

 

God is real, and it doesn’t matter what I think about that – I know, from reading, from knowledge, from my own experience, and from what I see in creation and the lives of myself and others, that He is real.

 

No doubt.

 

As I worked through this with God, in silent prayer, something became abundantly clear.

 

I knew I was in a real, living relationship, with a real God. This had gone beyond simply believing the right thing and doing the right thing, being obedient to some God in a faraway place.

 

Suddenly I was fully aware of a real person right next to me, within me and around me, interacting with me. By this I don’t mean I had any supernatural or emotional experience, but I just suddenly became aware of the reality of this relationship.

 

I finally felt like my faith wasn’t a comfort blanket. It wasn’t something I had to make me feel better about life or my eternal destiny.

 

This was a real, full-on relationship with a real God. Like all relationships, it wasn’t always easy, and never perfect. It involved wresting, discussion, and full-frank honest conversation.

 

As this became clear to me, the anger calmed somewhat. I knew this was just my inner child and insecurities crying out trying to take control of me. I’d found the strength to move beyond them.

 

As this happened, I found a more honest faith – even with the doubts and questions. Paradoxically, the more I doubted, the more I found myself having intimacy with God. Even though things weren’t perfect between us at the time, there was paradoxically more honesty and intimacy between us.

 

Strange how it works isn’t it? We often think we need to have it all together to have true intimacy with our creator. Truth is, it’s often when we’re at our weakest and most vulnerable we achieve true intimacy with God.

 

It reminded me of some of the main characters in scripture who truly wrestled with God – people like Job and Moses for example, and how even through that they discovered great intimacy with God – and were greatly used by Him.

 

How encouraging is that?

 

The questions, the doubting, the honest and frank exchanges with God – which we all have, let’s be honest – are not a bad thing. They are perfectly normal, in fact.

 

Indeed, they may be a sign that we’ve moved beyond a superficial, religious faith to a deeper, more honest and intimate relationship with a real God.

 

And isn’t that something we all want?

 

 

 

James Prescott is a writer & creative exploring how we find divine hope in the messiness of life. He blogs regularly at www.jamesprescott.co.uk and is a regular guest blogger for various sites. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77 & on Facebook.

Ithaca

 

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca

pray that the road is long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge.

 

The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,

the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:

You will never find such as these on your path,

if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine

emotion touches your spirit and your body.

 

The Lestrigonians and the Cyclops,

the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,

if you do not carry them within your soul,

if your soul does not set them up before you.

 

Pray that the road is long.

That the summer mornings are many, when,

with such pleasure, with such joy 

you will enter ports seen for the first time;

 

stop at Phoenician markets,

and purchase fine merchandise,

mother-of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

and sensual perfumes of all kinds,

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

 

visit many Egyptian cities,

to learn and learn from scholars.

 

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.

To arrive there is your ultimate goal.

But do not hurry the voyage at all.

 

It is better to let it last for many years;

and to anchor in the island when you are old,

rich with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

 

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.

Without her you would have never set out on the road

She has nothing more to give you.

 

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.

Wise as you have become, with so much experience,

you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

 

                                                            Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

                                                            Translation by George Barbanis

 

Life is a journey, beginning at birth.

Everyone and everything that crosses our way – people, events, situations, experiences – are necessary for the development of our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual states of being.

Our purpose is to recognize our spiritual nature and evolve. Directing our journey outward, we empower our ego and all its aspects and attachments, materialistic inclinations, pride, fear, and doubt. We become one with such a world.

To evolve spiritually, we need to direct our journey inward, where we find our soul, recognize it as the divine part of us, and trust its wisdom. Then, we connect with love, life, and the Divine.

Appointing this soul as navigator, we can successfully sail through rough oceans and calm waters, ultimately becoming the spiritual beings we are meant to be.

Cavafy’s “Ithaca” has been one of my favorite poems since I first read it as a teenager.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the depth and wisdom contained in a few verses.

“Ithaca” is a treasure to hold dear to our hearts every moment of our life, whether we set out for small journeys and intermittent goals or we have in mind our last destination in this life.

A few summers ago in Greece, when I stumbled again on “Ithaca,” I believed it was a sign. It seemed the perfect “coincidence” to rethink this book, the perfect beginning, since both regard journeys.

“Ithaca” draws from a Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy, who grew up in Hellenistic Alexandria, influenced both by Greek themes of mythology as well as by the exotics of Egyptian bazaars.

Cavafy expresses truths and morals with great wisdom in “Ithaca.” An insightful allegory, his poem symbolizes the attainment of an objective man sets and shows at the same time the love of life and knowledge and man’s gain from his life experiences.

“Ithaca”, named after the destination Ionian island of Odysseus’ journey, invites us to explore, learn, and celebrate our own journeys. It reminds us that we are never alone. We will meet many people on our way with which we will share the joys and the pains of life.

“Your thoughts are your prayers,”

Cavafy seems to be saying.  He reminds us to take fear out of our life, and positively face head on whatever comes our way. Live each moment by being present, without letting thoughts or fears take over.

It is the journey itself toward “Ithaca” and the knowledge and experiences we acquire that are more important than reaching the destination. Only then will we have “lofty” encounters, only then will we enjoy and learn from our experiences, whether upright and satisfying or disobedient and contrite. Then, when we reach Ithaca, will we be wisely satisfied with life.

While the beautiful verses, phrases, and ideas of the original poem are executed wonderfully in this translation, being Greek, I hear the poem in its original language. Its words and rhythm play on my heartstrings the most wonderful and sublime music.