A friend of mine has extensively studied a number of religions, and we regularly enjoy deep discussions about variousbelief systems—discussions that invariably come around to our own beliefs.
“I respect those who believe in God, but I can’t manage to myself,” my friend once said. “I don’t feel it. I also can’t understand all that spiritual and supernatural stuff.”
I could relate. Not the part about not believing in God, but the part about not feeling or understanding the supernatural, which is what many people equate with faith.
“I don’t feel it either,” I told him. “I believe because I choose to. For me, faith is a choice.”
I’ve thought about that conversation and my answer a lot since. I grew up in an atmosphere of faith but went through the usual teenage stages of questioning. Many of my friends, both mentors and peers, had told me about the experiences that had helped build their faith. Many of those had been centered on supernatural events—signs, dreams, and mystic, unexplainable circumstances that they called miracles. I hadn’t had any of these experiences myself, and I sometimes thought of logical explanations for theirs.
What I did see, however, were little manifestations of God’s love and care in my daily life. Even though some of those situations could also have been explained as happy coincidences or acts of goodness on someone else’s part, they were consistent with what I had read and been taught about the nature and essence of God. Through them I felt loved and cared for, that someone was looking out for me. I chose to believe that this was God working in my life, even though I didn’t experience the spiritual highs or see the fireworks that some do. What I have is a quiet fire, but it’s kept me warm for years now.
I live a rather unconventional life, but God has always looked out for me and I have an inner assurance that He will continue to do so. My life is in His hands. Feelings are irrelevant. I believe because I choose to.
Don’t neglect your critical faculties. Remember that God is a rational God, who has made us in His own image. God invites and expects us to explore His double revelation, in nature and in Scripture, with the minds He has given us, and to go on in the development of a Christian mind to apply His marvelous revealed truth to every aspect of the modern and post-modern world.—John Stott, Anglican cleric