by Jennie Allen
Unbelief is no small thing. It often lays in the foundation for all the places we struggle, and ultimately faith in Christ is what will separate those who belong to God from those who do not.
Usually we do not fear God. We do not see him for who he is; we doubt him. It is the most damaging thing in us—to mistake God for something small or wavering. Yet we leave the doubts alone in us, thinking they are our simple, fickle thoughts.
A.W. Tozer says, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Nothing defines a soul more than what that soul believes about God. And no outward observer can know what is in the soul of a person. The most important thing about us is truly only known and defined by the owner of the soul and the one who created it. Everyone else only sees what we want them to see. Nothing defines us more… nothing is more important than what we believe about God.
I used to think knowing about God was the same as knowing him. I remember sitting in a room full of future pastors at seminary. I always felt out of place; maybe it was because I was a girl, maybe it was because I sat tearing up listening to professors talk about God while everybody else was taking notes and arguing dispensationalism.
As God was being dissected in front of me, I kept looking around at all those guys thinking, “Did you hear that?! This is ludicrous.” I was freaking out as we talked about angels and hell and how our souls literally transform the second we trust Christ. Come on, people. It’s insane.
At the lake one weekend, I had a deep conversation with a close friend that triggered a big question for me: how does someone know God? She strongly believed the only way someone knows God was through reading Scripture. I agreed. We do not know God apart from Scripture and every other experience must be held up to his word, since it is the clearest revelation from him. It was the foundation for every understanding I held about God. I clung to it as I would the very words of God because I believe that is, in fact, what Scripture is. But it still seemed too simple to me. I knew that my experiences, friends, prayer life, worship, church, books had all brought me closer to God too . . . helped me to know him.
On Monday I posed the question in class to one of my favorite professors. The answer that followed went on to shape my view of God. He began by listing all the ways we grow or know God—prayer, studying Scripture, church, worship, experiences, suffering, confession, community and on and on. Then he said, “But obviously each of these is unpredictable . . . many people who study the Bible never find God. Many people who go to church, never really know him. The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God, is to risk.”
I think the whole class started questioning him . . . looking for proof text in our minds, trying to find a category for what he had just said.
Then he went on, “To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future then to watch him come through . . . he starts to get real when you live like that.”
We were all speechless. Knowing God, really knowing him, was getting more complicated. But if he was real, if he was God, then certainly he was worth knowing—not just the facts, but knowing what it is like to run with him, lean on him, have his hand alone holding me up.