John the Baptist

“It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.” —Fyodor Dostoyevski

“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 Modern English Version

A crossroad is a place where roads intersect and where crucial decisions are made. So often at the crossroads of our lives, we struggle with the question of which way is the right way? But what if you’ve arrived at a crossroads of faith? Where do you find a safe place to openly express your doubts and confusion?

When I first arrived at the crossroads, I wasn’t looking to get sucked down some spiritual rabbit hole to the unknown.  I wanted to serve God. I wanted to please God.  I had felt the call of God like the prophet Isaiah and had replied,  “Here I am send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NLT) In response, I followed this call, sacrificed everything for God, and served in ministry for decades. This was my literal interpretation of losing my life for Christ’s sake. I was The Purpose Driven Life – on steroids. But somewhere along the way, I began to struggle with doubts and questions.

I felt myself slipping, falling into the unknown. No matter what I tried, the darkness continued to suck me in. I stumbled upon the following quote which describes my life perfectly.

Darkness seems more evident than light. My heart is numb from over-thinking, over-protecting, over-reacting, and trying to compartmentalize my life. I questioned the strength of my faith, and wondered if God cared that my heart was aching. I continually cried out to God–but no answers came. I had seen God work in ways that I never imagined. Yet at this particular “crossroad,” doubt suffocated my thoughts, while fear whispered “You are alone.”. –Ashley Whit

I know first-hand how difficult times of doubt are and how complex the questions can be. Just like the father in Mark 9:24 , I’ve stood at the intersection of faith and doubt and cried out, “Help my unbelief!” Reading his story, I can understand his pain. You see, I wanted to experience the power of Jesus, but all I could see was my doubts.

After walking the road of doubt, leaving my faith, and returning I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of the most significant was discovering that a lot of the “heroes of the faith” struggled with faith and doubt. Over the next few posts, I’ll share their stories with you. So let’s dive in with none other than…(drum roll please) John the Baptist.

“I know I baptized Jesus, but…”

If you’re where I was for a long time, doubt has become a constant presence in your mind; you don’t even know how to begin sort through the mounds of questions that haunt every waking moment. This struggle can leave you depressed and even angry.

In my experience, and the experience of others I’ve talked to, there is usually something that is at the core of your doubt, and most other doubts grew from that seed. Now, I was taught that doubting is sinful, and represents weak faith. Trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. How do I know this? Let me give you an example.

John the Baptist was, according to Jesus,

“far more than a prophet… Of all the people ever born, no one is greater than John the Baptizer.” – Matthew 11:9,11

Yet this man who heralded the coming Messiah… doubted. In that same chapter, John was thrown into prison by Herod. While awaiting his execution, he sent this message to Jesus:”

“he [John] sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one [Messiah] who is coming, or should we look for someone else?” Matthew 11:2-3

This man spent time with Jesus, baptized him, heard God affirm Jesus as God’s own son, and devoted his life to proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ traveled the road of doubt. His statement describes a man who struggled to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. John isn’t the only example, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who doubted, questioned, and struggled with their faith.