I'm coming to an obvious but startling conclusion: there is such a thing as "fake faith." One can honestly say (and convince themselves) that they believe without ever truly doing so. And I'm beginning to see how often this has been the case with me.
As a Christian, I am finding out more and more how hard living in true faith really is. It's so easy to say that we trust God, that we believe His best for our lives, that we have even accepted His grace for ourselves and believe Him to be our Savior...all the while living as if He doesn't exist. Choosing in daily things to deny Him as Lord of our lives and deciding that our own plans are better than His.
Great doubts even can trouble our souls...and yet, we still suspend our disbelief when we walk into the church doors. We sing of His love and of our desire to worship Him, we listen to the sermon and agree with what is said, we enjoy the fellowship and prayer of fellow travelers on the journey to grace...but when we walk out of the doors, we pick up our fears, our doubts, our disbelief - and we forfeit great joy and contented peace because we do not really know Him at all.
So often, I see how my old self - the uncrucified me - plays the part of Judas and walks with God everywhere, yet still refuses to fully bow the heart to His sovereign authority. I want to be in control...dragging regrets from years prior, thinking I know what should happen in the present, and fearing greatly what is to come in the future...all the while saying that I believe. But never fully addressing my unbelief.
Authentic faith is hard. So hard. It takes more bravery than I ever thought would be needed just to face the daily fears (mountains of them at times) with simple submission to the One who has written my story since before time began. The inner atheist in me is constantly raising its head and trying to tell me to question God. To question who He is, what He's done, what He has in store. It attempts to convince me that His plans are not reasonable...but whoever said I had to figure out God's thinking?! Me. I told myself this for so long...and I was wrong.
After years of listening to my inner falsehoods, it's hard to learn to talk truth to them instead. To face the fears of unknowns, of what ifs, of how comes, of whys takes everything in me oftentimes. Perhaps you know the feeling, the struggle.
Perhaps you're in the same place as me - just realizing that doubt has kept grace from running deep, that fear has kept faith from blossoming to its full potential. That blessings have been missed because the eyes of the heart were blind to the simple truth that everything is grace...that we can't change a single thing by worrying our one short life away. That we pass by daily miracles and demonstrations of Him because we're too busy trying to figure out what He's up to and what we should do about it. Perhaps we've accepted Him as Savior but have resisted Him as Lord. We've fought His right to providentially and sovereignly orchestrate His plan to completion. And thus, our faith has proven fake. It has turned out to be no faith at all.
Truthfully, God doesn't want us to do anything about His plan. Only to submit to it. Only to rest in it. Only to accept and acknowledge that He is good and we are forever loved. His plan may include great pain, great sacrifice, great uncertainty from our point of view. But such seasons of heartache, loss, and obscured revelation only reveal our further need for Him and teach us that the only way to truly grow is to be stretched and tested. Faith can only be proven genuine when it is tried. And God knows this.
But can we learn to be okay with it?! That's the real question. Can we learn to let go of our need to figure everything out and instead come to the profound conclusion that, "no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end" (Ecclesiastes 3:11)?
My inner atheist needs to be laid to rest and subjected to the Redeemer's rule. My old self must die daily, hard though it is. I must learn to walk toward the things that paralyze my soul the most and say, God has already walked through this; I don't have to be afraid.
I see now that God can do much in a willing and submitted life - a life that is given over to the good and gracious dealings of God. A life that is rich in what matters. And such authentic faith can reveal the love of God to a searching world in the biggest way possible. But such a place of surrender can never happen until I learn to let go of my disbelief. Until I don't merely suspend it, but allow God to do away with it for good.