Certainty is hard to come by. Especially when you have a knack for inconsistency, as I do.
I’ve been a pretty inconsistent person before. This is not to say that I haven’t been working to turn it around, but inconsistency has long been a struggle of mine. My last blog entry was in November. Between then and now I absolutely have had enough thoughts that I could have invested into some worthwhile blog entries. But time management has never really been a strong point of mine. It’s a skill I am learning a lot about and improving upon, but not without taking those lessons the hard way.
Something more important than blogging and even time management that I’ve been inconsistent with is my spiritual life. My confusing teenage years were spent oscillating between agnosticism and all out piety. There were even times when I had been both simultaneously: I was an agnostic on the inside but I felt like the expectations set before me as a minister’s son compelled me to stick with the Christian life, plus all my friends were Christians (I know…late teens confusion is the worst) plus I never found any reason to all out disbelieve because a definite answer (which atheism attempts to be, whether it is considered a religion or not) scared me. It was certainty that I was so uneasy about. With no spiritual ideals to commit to, I was not only uncertain about my faith, but uncertain about quite literally everything in my life…what I was working toward with college, where I wanted to go with certain relationships, what to save my money on, and other important questions we face during these times in our lives.
I took a course on the New Testament at my college, Geneva College in Western Pennsylvania, from May to early June. It had been an interesting, difficult yet necessary year of transitioning from a commuting boy slacking off at home to an out-of-state, semi-independent man living on campus and spending more time at the library than in front of the TV. Transitioning was not easy, and I could have handled it more smoothly, but I came out understanding what it was really like to cut one of the bigger strands off of the umbilical chord (forgive me if that illustration was too graphic). My lessons would not be reiterated back to me in a very clear way until those three weeks spent taking Mr. Warren’s Bible 113: Intro to the New Testament Course. As my spiritual life had been relatively inconsistent, even after recommitting to Christ, so had my keeping up with the NT (I had been reading the Word hodgepodge at the time, but almost exclusively out of the Old Testament…Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah were where I invested my interest most of the time). This course I had originally taken to get a prerequisite out of the way ended up changing a confused boy still searching into a passionate, determined man almost completely sure of his convictions…all in a mere three weeks. While I definitely feel like a different person from the one I was a year ago, if it weren’t for those three weeks of being “forced” to look at the words of Christ and understand their applications, I wouldn’t have truly taken away what I had learned over the past ten months and kept it with me to apply to my life.
Revisiting the words of Christ and studying them closely reminded me of why I had not given up on them. It is because of the humble nature of faith. Faith does not mean rejecting vaccines in favor of waiting around for miracles. It doesn’t mean whipping snakes around and it doesn’t mean denying the existence of dinosaurs. It is something that we wrestle and struggle with everyday. A lot of people tend to think of faith subscribers as docile, weak-minded and submissive, but those who are strongest in their faith are people on a journey, the most difficult journey that an unpredictable life has to offer.
The mysterious author of Hebrews wrote the now commonly-quoted words: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (11:1, NRSV). There’s that word: “assurance”. Assurance is an elusive thing. It is aptly coupled (in my translation, if that matters) with that other word: “conviction.” It is difficult to understand how certainty can arise out of such unsure places or how we can commit to something so seemingly abstract. That is what makes faith so humble to me: it states that we cannot know everything, but we can still have certainty in our lives.
I have several years of uncertainty and confusion to make up for over these next couple of years. All this confusion has led me to make many mistakes that have yet to be resolved. However, with certainty in uncertain places now firmly locked, I feel more confident than ever. Finding true faith can do amazing things in the course of three weeks.
Praise King Yeshua.