Messy - The Doubters

Right at this moment, are you 100% sure about what you believe?

"The Great Charles Blondin", was a famous French tightrope walker and acrobat.
Blondin's greatest fame came in 1859 when he attempted to become the first person to cross the rushing and roaring waters of Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
With a balancing pole, Charles Blondin walked across the 335m long tightrope in only five minutes. He went on to walk across the falls several times, each time with a different theatrical flair. Later crossings were made in a sack; on stilts; on a bicycle, in the dark with sparks flaring from his pole tips; with his hands and feet manacled; and sitting down halfway to cook an omelet!

On one occasion, Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in a wheelbarrow?"The crowd enthusiastically shouted, "Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!"

"Okay," said Blondin, "Get in the wheelbarrow....." No one did.

Later, on Sept 15, 1860, the world was amazed as Blondin made a crossing carrying his manager, Harry Colcord on his back.

If you have ever doubted, if you have ever questioned, if you have ever wrestled with God's place in your life...then you are in good company. In fact, you will find great friends throughout the Bible. There are two that stand out more than any others – Gideon and his fleece and Thomas the doubting disciple.

As the oldest we'll give Gideon his due...
Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Then Gideon said to him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." The LORD looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" He said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." But the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man." (Judges 6:11-16)

God’s View said: God is with you! (v. 12) You are a valiant warrior (man of valor) (v. 12). Gideon's View was: “Hey, look buddy, have you noticed something... I'm over here beating out wheat before our enemies take it! I've got the worst job in my whole family cause I'm a 98 pound weakling in a family of wimps!” (v. 15)

God is patient with all Gideon's antics. One by one, Gideon challenges God's call on his life to be someone greater. Little by little, Gideon's doubt in himself and in God is replaced by the understanding that God never said Gideon was to do it ON HIS OWN. Judges 7 tells how with God's leading, Gideon and 300 men defeated the Midianite army – definitely good story time reading. The lesson of Gideon is that we don't face life and the enemies on our own...

Which should have been something Thomas was aware of as a faithful Jew. Sure, he was a disciple of Jesus, but more than that alone, he had grown up with the story of Gideon and others. He knew God could do amazing things. Yet, after Jesus death and resurrection, when all the others came to believe, Thomas doubted...

So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He *said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus *said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:25-29, NASB)

Like Gideon, Thomas' view was: Hey, people don't rise from the dead okay! Look at us, we're a bunch of rejects and Rome and the Pharisees had the final say! You want me to believe? Show me! (v.25). And God called the bluff. And what Jesus said was one of the most profound statements about how God views things: Blessed are those who believe who have never seen.

We're 2,000 years removed from the time of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. We haven't been short changed. In fact, Jesus said we are blessed – not in ways regarding wealth and prestige – we are counted equal in God's kingdom even though we didn't walk where he did.

That doesn't mean the questions go away. Following her death, Mother Theresa's letters and writings have been published. Many have been shocked and disappointed. Others have found it a good time to ridicule faith in light of some of her words such as...
“Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness ...So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me...”

I'm not sure that doubt is really the opposite of faith – the opposite of belief, yes. But the opposite of faith would be apathy. Faith, I think, is healthiest, not when it is without doubt but in spite of it. Authentic faith doesn't seek to eliminate doubt – authentic faith – goes after Jesus where ever Jesus goes. Whether it is across waterfalls or into the slums, whether it is in collecting bags of groceries or extending an invitation, God views things different. He meets us in the mess of our doubts because he sees what we can't see ourselves – he sees Jesus in us.


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