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My Struggle With Unbelief

"Must I really have to see it to believe it?"
By Dennis Rainey


Have you ever noticed how creative some businesses are at communicating their service or product through a catchy name or slogan?

How about the slogan of Johnson's Flower and Garden Center in Washington D.C.—"Our Business is Blooming!" Our garbage company has one of my favorites—"We guarantee satisfaction or double your garbage back!"

American Way magazine once had a story on others who get their message across in their name—like a car rental agency in New York named "Chariots for Hire;" there's the "Auto Orphanage" in Sacramento; "Franks for the Memory" a hot dog stand on the West Coast; "The Recovery Room" a Salt Lake City upholstery shop; and "Shampooches"—you guessed it—a dog wash (self service) in where else but California!

Beauty shops seem to be the innovative leaders in this new trend: "The Clip Joint," "Hair Port," "Hair It Is," "The Mane Event," "The Great Hair After," "The Gang's All Hair," "Take It From the Top," and my favorite: "We Curl Up and Dye!"

Sometimes the message in these names and slogans can really cause us to stop and think—like the antique store named "The Den of Antiquity" … in Las Vegas.

But one grabbed my attention the other day—a Christian optometrist who called his practice, "Seeing is Believing." Perhaps I like it because I'm from the "Show Me State" of Missouri. But when I saw that name, my mind raced back eighteen years to when I graduated from junior college.

The doubting Thomas

I was a normal 20-year-old in the midst of the tumultuous days of the late 60's. I had no purpose. My life was filled to the brim with compromise, mediocrity, doubt, perplexing questions I couldn't answer, and frequent despair.

Everything that I had touched for the past year had turned to gold—grades, girls, and college athletics. You would have thought I had everything, but I had lost my faith. I guess you would have called me a "backsliding Christian." I felt I had to see it to believe it. You might even say I was a "20th Century Doubting Thomas."

Precariously balanced with one foot on the banana peel of doubt and the other foot in the world, I began to honestly seek what God had to say about life and my life.

Throughout my quest one question haunted me: "Must I really have to see it to believe it?"

My slippery spiritual descent was halted in the fall of 1968 through a number of people whom God brought across my path. Through those people, God loved me out of my spiraling unbelief.

One of those people was an evangelist named Tom Skinner. He helped stop my spiritual decline and nudged me upwards toward a true faith in God. May I share with you a quote he gave me?

I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts, when suddenly I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe. I have since moved from the agony of questions that I cannot answer, to the reality of answers that I cannot escape . . . and it's a great relief.

You see, my life was riddled with questions that I couldn't answer, like:
  • Is the Bible really God's Word?
  • Why does God allow suffering?
  • Where did evil come from?
  • Will the heathen in foreign countries who have never heard about Jesus Christ really go to hell?
  • Is Jesus Christ really Who He claims to be—God?
  • What is the purpose to life if Christianity is a hoax?

I was hopelessly entangled by doubts about the Christian faith because of hypocrisy in the church, doubts about Jesus really being God, doubts about all those "errors" and doubts about the reality of heaven and hell. Ultimately, I doubted God's existence.

Hope is never found in doubt.

Unanswered questions

 It was as though I were saying, "Don't bother me with the truth. I'm having far too much fun being critical and grappling over issues that have confounded the philosophers for centuries." As someone once said, I was trying to unscrew the inscrutable.

I began to see it was a waste of my life struggling over questions that can't be answered on this side of heaven's gate. It began to dawn upon me, "Why spend life questioning every minute detail of the Christian faith when there are so many obvious truths that can't be ignored."

So I began to focus on what I knew to be true—like the resurrection. If Christ is still in the tomb then Christianity has little more to offer me than other world religions. But it is an irrefutable fact of history—CHRIST IS RISEN.

And the Bible, what an incredible book, I still have plenty of unanswered questions about it, but those questions are true "feather-weights" compared to the "heavy-weight" truth about this supernatural book. Consider this:

Its 66 different books were written by over 20 different authors, separated by as much as 1600 years, in different cultures and in three different languages. We have more evidence that the Bible we have today is what was written originally than any other historical document of its age.

Science continues to prove (rather than disprove) its historical accuracy. And its central theme remains clear: God loves mankind and wants to redeem men and women to Himself.

It tells us how to live. It gives us hope in the face of death. It contains the best set of blueprints for building a home (a marriage and family) that I've ever seen.

Oh yes, there is one last thing that helped me assassinate my doubts: The risen Lord Jesus Christ lives in me. He came to change my life. I found Christianity is not a set of rigid rules and dull dogma, but a relationship with God.

Today, I'm so convinced of Christ's claims and the validity of the Scriptures that I will make this offer: I will renounce Christianity in total if any person can show me a better system to base my life on. I have challenged hundreds with that offer, yet I have not had one person even suggest an alternative.

There are none.

The answers that I uncovered began to tip my scales toward belief. I began to base my life on what I knew to be true.

The results of belief

For 18 years I've attempted to live my life on what I know to be true. So what have been the results, you ask? Here are just a few:

  • A life that is an adventure—walking with God is electrifying.
  • A lasting sense of destiny and significance that isn't manmade or fake.
  • The privilege of being used by God for eternal purposes.
  • His Holy Spirit Who empowers me to deny my selfishness and enables me to love people (some whom I don't even like); and
  • A sense of peace and well-being and contentment that can only come when I obey Him.

Maybe for a Christian optometrist the phrase, "Seeing is believing" is a good one, but if you wait to believe until you see all your doubts and questions answered, then you'll be waiting for the rest of your life.

"For we walk by faith and not by sight." -Apostle Paul

You see …

"I spent a long time trying to come to grips with my doubts, when suddenly I realized I had better come to grips with what I believe. I have since moved from the agony of questions that I cannot answer, to the reality of answers that I cannot escape . . . and it's a great relief."

Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family. 



Meet the Author: Dennis Rainey

Dennis Rainey

Dennis Rainey is the president and chief executive officer of FamilyLife, a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ. Since the organization began in 1976, Dennis' leadership has enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry that offers families blueprints for living godly lives.  Dennis is host of FamilyLife Today radio program and has written numerous books.  He and his wife, Barbara, live near Little Rock, Arkansas.  They have six children and many grandchildren.

 

 

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