It’s understood that some of my readers are not followers of Jesus and that my faith may be difficult to reconcile with your own opinions regarding spirituality and mental health. But as I continue to navigate the waters of God, dreams, creativity, and brokenness, it would be a travesty if I did not discuss the core reason of my existence: Jesus. So, with humility I want to approach this series with honesty about my hopes, my doubts, and my own spiritual journey. If you would like to discuss these things in further detail, feel free to write me through my contact page or via Twitter.
Why believe in a God who seems distant and absent from a world full of pain and heartache? As chaos erupts in our lives, in our minds, and in our society, why still have faith in a higher being who claimes to care for humanity? As science progresses, is it possible for the spiritual and the material to collide, or are we simply an assembly of matter existing by mere chance? And if the spiritual realm does indeed exist, why Jesus? Why not Buddha, Mohammed, or another spiritual avenue?
The ultimate question: why take such a risk of potentially wasting your life for a guy who claimed to be the Son of God 2,000 years ago?
These are all difficult questions that many of us are forced to ask ourselves, especially in the night when the busyness of our days ceases and we are faced with the deepest longings of our hearts. Throughout my life I have been a doubter, a seeker, and an over-analytical skeptic, often wondering if God even knows I exist, or if I am only as visible as ant is to a pilot in a cloudy night sky.
I’m far from figuring things out, understanding the way God works, or even seeing my own hands in front of my own face at times…But there are some things in life that simply resonate with my spirit; there are some things you just cannot shake, you can’t disregard, and you can’t ignore. These same thoughts haunt you and constantly remind you of something beyond the here and now.
Despite being raised in the church and “believing” in Jesus, I consider my true journey with Jesus to have begun in my early teens. I know, being a 13 year old believing in Jesus is not much more difficult than believing that Batman exists, so I understand the complication of young faith. And yet, as I grew older, Jesus remained. Batman, Raphael, and Kermit the Frog became myth, acceptable in only imagination and creative art. Jesus? His words continued to reverberate my inner being, crashing into my reason, my intellect, and my deepest longings.
Jesus remained, despite my questions, my searching, my longings, and my despair. I simply couldn’t toss aside His claims; there was no avoiding the direct stabbing in my spirit as I read the Scriptures, as I prayed, and as I learned from those who had devoted their lives to teaching about Jesus.
And yet, one of the greatest causes of doubt, frustration, and despair for many comes not from those outside of the church, but rather those who professed Christ. Throughout much of my spiritual journey, there were many teachers and pastors who abused their power, manipulating congregations with condemnation and self-righteousness. Many people within the church who spoke about Jesus lived nothing like Him, despite the extremely legalistic rules they hid within.
But I longed for more…And not only I, but many others who were beat-up, weary, and exhausted from the performance of Christian sub-culture.
That’s when I found alternative art, which I consider to often be a mirror of the soul. This art form appealed to me more than the stale worship that echoed in hollow hearts throughout massive structures called church buildings. You see, the desperation, doubt, and exploration in the art outside of the church was often more honest, asking deeper questions than the sanitized culture of Christian art and culture. I often assume that is why many who grow up in a Christian home leave the faith when they grow up; not because Jesus was insubstantial, but rather because many Christians are so afraid to ask the tough questions that may not yield easy answers. Much of Christian art reflects this sanitized, sterile view of things, leaving us asking questions in the dark.
And yet, once again, Jesus remained. Once you meet Jesus, everything else makes more sense. I can’t explain it, but the desperation in much of the art I enjoyed reminded me of our human frailty, our brokenness, our immortality, and our deepest need for God. I met God in my tears, deconstructed when I read books written by fallen saints, and repented often as I witnessed the evil in the world, as well as within my own heart.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
How do you escape such words of hope, life, and redemption? Maybe you are nothing like me, but for most of my life I have felt hollow, lacking, broken, tired, and bedraggled. The words of Jesus aren’t some palatable fluff that promises a life of wealth, happiness, freedom from pain, or attainment of all our dreams. The words echo in the soul, they bounce against the walls of indifference, and they pierce the hurting heart full of tears.
As we continue on this journey over the next few posts, I hope that you will begin to explore Jesus on your own, reading through the Scriptures for yourself. Allow His words to penetrate, not simply to bounce off a hardened resolve of ideology. Be open for the whispers of the Spirit of God.
Questions For Discussion:
- What do you long for the most, especially when the curtain is dropped and you’re alone?
- Have you ever felt insufficient, as if this life was never meant to be walked alone?
- Is brokenness something you’ve wrestled with for most of your life, only to find that it always seems to find you in every new season? Is it possible we all need a Healer?
- Who is Jesus to you, right now? Is He simply a good teacher, or was He really who He claimed to be?
- Are you willing to listen to the words of Jesus for yourself through the Scriptures, or is this simply something you are unwilling to accept as a possibility?