Why did I loose my faith? To be honest, there was no single reason, no silver bullet that turned me from a serious, bible believing Christian to a self-professing agnostic/atheist. My faith struggle took place over a period of three years, and was the result of many different reasons. I will cover some of them in later posts, but one of the main causes can be summed up by a quote in Philip Yancey’s Disappointment With God. Yancey recounts the true story of Richard, a young Christian writer who looses his faith after a long and painful struggle with his belief. Yancey records Richard as saying: “How can you have a personal relationship if you’re not sure the other person even exists?” This was the exact problem I had – dealing with a hidden friend.
I started to slide from my faith when I realised that although I was talking a lot to God, I wasn’t hearing much in reply. As a believer, I was expected to share my all with God, every thought and desire; but in return he didn’t share his every thought or intention with me. Many times I asked for guidance and answers to specific questions, and all I received were the same old verses that were simply too vague. I was expected to speak to him directly - God should have had no problem hearing my prayers - but in return I had to work hard to decipher and decode ambiguous messages through sermons, the Bible, and other Christians.
As a result I was almost always uncertain of what God was trying to say to me individually. I must have prayed countless times and spent many mornings talking to God. In all those years I only once ‘heard’ a clear and direct message to me, through a single Bible verse that popped up two or three times from different sources in a single week. A thought occurred to me: was this a real message to me from God, or was it just my imagination creating faces out of random static? Only one clear message in 13 years! I suddenly got tired of being in a one-way relationship, where I did all the work and got little in return. I then started to doubt if God cared for me at all, or if he even existed.
I believe it was Emily Dickinson who said "They say God is everywhere, and yet we always think of him as somewhat of a recluse."
I was taught that God is a constant companion who will never leave your side. I wonder why I struggled so much to hear him, then, if he is supposed to be so close by.