Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Honest Conversation

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and might things which you do not know.

We sat across the table from each other.
He was uncomfortable with the silence, as was I.
I wanted to say something, but I held my silence.
Then the conversation began.

"I have no problem with Step # 1."
The step that reads that we are powerless over our addiction, that our lives have become unmanageable.
"I admit that I am the problem. I know it, you know it....everyone around me knows that I am the source of all my troubles."

This was true. His history of destruction was well documented. No trouble here...he was the problem.
The conversation continued.

"I just don't know about step #2 and #3. I just don't know if I can believe in God."
Years ago this would have caused me to come undone, as I would have put on my Pharisee Robes and commence a theological tirade. But not today....not now.
Maybe I've grown wiser (I'd like to think so), but I think maybe it's a case of just being more tired and wanting to pick the battles I fight. Today, I felt that I was to listen to what this man had to say.

He went on.
"I want to believe in this God you talk about. I really do. But I don't  know how to do it."

He was just being honest.
My old religious mind reared up in an echo in my mind...."You just believe! What more do you want? You just believe. Either you do or you don't." Such logic would not work in this particular conversation. I asked him, "Why do you think you can't believe in God? Or what makes you think you are somehow different from others who believe?" His reply was simple. "I know I'm not different. I know that somehow all this God-stuff you teach is real, but I just have a block when it comes to embracing for myself."

I asked him, "Tell me, why are you so concerned about your belief in God? Have you ever experienced such a thought or feeling before?" He replied, "Never. I never gave it a thought before now." Looking at him across that table I asked, "Why do you think your having these thoughts now, when you've never had them before?" Puzzled, he replied, "I don't know."

So I carried the thought a little farther out.....
"What would you say if I told you that it might be God stirring you to consider these things?"

He looked at me as if I'd hit him between the eyes.
"God? You mean my concern with admitting I didn't know how to believe in Him was caused by His concern for me?"
"I don't  know, what do you think?" I asked.

He went back and covered all the bases that had led him to this point in his life.
Never thought about God at all.....he was too busy getting high and drunk.
No time for that God stuff.

But now, he can't seem to get it off his mind.
It reminded me of the man who came to Jesus declaring....."I believe...help my unbelief!"

I asked him, "Doesn't it make sense that if you've struggling with this step, and God is real, would He not reach out to touch you and make you aware of  His "realness?"

I asked him to tell me the first three words of step #3.
"Came to believe", he answered.
There it was...

Right there in front of Him in those three words.
"Came to believe? Doesn't that sound like a process?" I asked.
"Doesn't that sound like effort and investigation and a healthy dose of honesty?" I asked him.
"Yes, it does." 
"Why do you think they didn't just say 'we believe in a Power greater than ourselves', rather than 'we came to believe'?"
I wanted him to understand that everyone comes to Jesus because they are searching for some answers. Granted, God has stirred our hearts to do so, but we search none the less.

So I told him something that he needed to do.

"Tonight, after it gets dark, I want you to do something for me." 
"O.k." he replied."What is it?"
I told him that I wanted him to find a place where he could be by himself, and that I wanted him to explain to God all the difficulty he was having in believing. I told him that God would not be offended by his honesty. I told him to tell God that he really, really wanted to know that He was real, and ask God to speak and reveal Himself.

I told him that he would probably feel foolish but to not worry about it.
We talked a little longer, then he got up to leave.
"Thanks for taking the time."
I replied, "No...thanks for being honest enough to ask."

Isn't that what this whole strange trip we are on is all about?
Being honest enough to admit we don't know, but we're willing to look foolish and ask those questions no one else seems to want to ask?

I think maybe the answer is yes.
So I've been praying all night for God  to honor this request of a man, to know Him.
Can't wait to hear what he has to say.

God on you...

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