I was back in the classroom the other day.
Technically, it wasn’t a classroom but an audio-visual room, but it was a familiar place. I held quite a number of lectures there back when I was teaching English to high school students. My former-student-now-pastor-and-teacher, Mark, had invited me to speak before a joint assembly of his 4 CE (Christian Education) classes.
So, imagine me in front of a gaggle of 11th grade students in a Christian Education class. What does this scene remind you of? Hint, it’s one of the oldest stories of mankind. Yes, it was like putting the snake in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
That was my role there that morning (and I told them so), to be the snake; to be the one injecting doubt and to prod them to ask questions. I told them about my own life, how I journeyed from faith and devotion to doubt and skepticism. Mark had told me that their next lesson would be about the reality of Jesus and why they ought to believe that Jesus was God. So I told them why I thought the Bible wasn’t inspired, and why I thought much of the stories about Jesus were legendary developments, and why it wasn’t such a far-fetched idea as apologists make it sound.
And then it was Q & A time, which started a bit slow, but as soon as it got going, the questions started flowing — so much so that we had 4 or 5 questions after the “last” question.
One of the more interesting questions I got was what had changed from my life before when I was a Christian to now, when I was not.
So I said that as a Christian, I was serious about my faith and I always desired to know God more and I wanted to know, “What is God’s will for me?” This question would drive me crazy because I would always ask it when faced with decisions and I could never manage to get a clear answer no matter how hard I prayed, read the Bible, or asked church leaders. I would always get mixed signals.
As a logical person, I would approach a decision with analysis and logical thinking. Now, suppose the logical decision would be A and the less logical choice would be B.
So of course, the easy choice would be A but now I have to ask what God’s will is, and if you know the Bible, you’ll know that God doesn’t always give you the easy way out. So I get to thinking “Ok, is this what God really wants? Is this the devil tempting me or is this God opening the door to what I should do? Is making the logical decision a decision to trust myself or to trust God?”
On the other hand, if I looked at choice B, I would think, “Ok, is this what God is trying to make me do because he wants me trust him instead of my own thinking? Is he challenging me to have faith in him? Or is he deliberately closing the door and telling me not to go down this road?”
I would do that for almost every decision in my life and it drove me nuts.
Of course, now, there is no such agonizing. Whatever looks most reasonable and logical and promising, that’s it. And if it turns out to be a mistake, well, it’s easier to bear as well and faster to correct. There’s no one to blame but me. There’s no wondering why I misread or misinterpreted God or if I somehow lacked faith and feel guilty about it and so on and so forth.
Does that mean I’m happier now? The student who asked that question wanted to know.
Yes, of course, I am happier now.