Emmanuel: God with Me

In case you didn't know

I'm surfing a major wave of doubt. Not necessarily doubt in God or the existence of God...it's more about the parameters of faith, specifically MY faith. I'm coming from a fairly conservative background and currently in a pretty liberal setting, so there's a lot of input to sort.

In talking to, and reading from, others who, like me, have undergone radical shifts in their understanding of Christianity, I've found a common theme: doubting almost always comes with a sense that God is not near. When your faith is strong, you feel close to God. When you begin to falter, or question, or re-evaluate, God feels further off.

Faith is more than feeling

I won't heartily sing praises for every aspect of my faith upbringing, but there are some important foundational things that my family and my church got right. One of these is the understanding that God isn't the one who moves closer and grows distant. It is we who are moving. We shift, and so our perception of God shifts. But I was always taught that, no matter what, God is here, right here, and that we either live in that truth or fail to see it.

I remember sharing this with friends when they would lament about God's distance. I would read the Psalms wherein David was wailing about how God had left him, and I would hope that somewhere, at some point, David would have realized that what had changed wasn't God's distance, but David's ability to see God in his circumstances.

Back in 2006, I learned some lessons about God's faithfulness - big, huge, life-altering lessons that had an immediate and lasting impact on me. Though I can't say I never doubt the existence of God or the role of the Bible, I can't conceive of God without faithfulness. If there is a God, then he(/she/it) is faithful.

The feeling remains that God is on the journey too.

For years, and maybe since day 1, I've included a statement from St. Teresa of Avila somewhere in the layout of this blog. (For a while now it's hung out in the About Me section.) I don't remember where I first read this statement, but it has served as a comforting reminder for years now.

Not only is God faithful, but God is on this journey - every journey - with me. If I could ever be sure of God, I would be sure of this.


  1. Hello, I have found your blog through the company girls on Home Sanctuary which I just found a few days ago.

    I am struck by your definition of Emmanuel: God With Me in this season of major doubt. You have some thought-provoking insights: that you would be sure that God is with you even in this journey of doubt; that He doesn't change, though He seems far away, He is near--even in the midst of major doubt as you sort your conservative background in a liberal setting.

    I can relate to having seasons of major doubt - those seasons are the most grueling for there seems to be no foundation under my feet with which to navigate the circumstances that assail me at those times.

    I hope you are experiencing encouragement to keep asking the questions. In my seasons of great doubt, I have found few refuges for His (or Hers or Its) people usually do not encourage those doubts and questions. As a fellow doubter, I want to encourage you to keep asking the questions and bringing them to God. He is not afraid of our questions--often His people are afraid of the doubt & the questions but He isn't.

    A favorite quote of mine is from Frederick Buechner: "Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal Himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me. " I found this quote in Philip Yancey's book Disappointment with God.

    Thanks for sharing your your poignant, honest insight.

    Also, I like your book list for 2010. You have read some of my favorites; I also see some titles that I would like to read.

    Thanks for your post & linking up at the Company Girls so that I could find you. May you find some encouragement today.

  2. If you are looking for encouragement in this season of doubt, may I suggest reading some of Megan's posts over at Sorta Crunchy. Back in September, Megan recommended the book Evolving in Monkey Town and I am eager to read it.

    {Here's the link to the post: http://www.sortacrunchy.net/sortacrunchy/2010/09/singing-my-life-with-her-words-rachel-held-evans-evolving-in-monkey-town-review.html}

    I appreciate that you are wrestling with what it means to believe, and agree that we are the ones who waver. Studying the books of John and Isaiah over the last have been so helpful for me. Where I stumble is not so much in recognizing truth, but in trusting God to change me.

  3. Your words are so true: Faith is more than feeling. And I do believe that God is always there. He is always our protector, our portion, our cup. But, I also believe that sometimes God allows for the illusion of distance for the very reason to stretch our faith. It is easier to have faith in something we can always feel and always see. Much more challenging to keep it when things are less tangible.

    I love you honesty.

  4. We are so fortunate that God is with us on this journey...if we didn't have that we'd surely give up!


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