No, this post isn’t a commentary on the story by C.S. Lewis (just getting that out of the way first). This post is altogether something different. For my readers who have been following my journey from the beginning, this may surprise you (or maybe not, I don’t know). For those of you who just stumbled on this page because you were intrigued by the title, you may have questions. Don’t worry. I’m about to answer them for you. The main thing you need to know about me, that I recently discovered myself, is that I’m a fraud.
The Main Reason I’m a Fraud? Fear
There are several reasons for this but the main reason is that there is a great divorce between my heart and my mind. Almost like a separate state between the two that I can move in and out of at will. This does not a good Christian make. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what I’m doing and too often am paralyzed by fear in this Christian walk. Fear of not being perfect. Fear of being too honest with people and having them walk away from me. Fear of being controlled by sin…. and the list goes on. The main contributor that made me aware that I am, indeed, a fraud was this: earlier this week, I realized truly that I don’t actually believe God’s truth with my heart, only with my head. I don’t actually believe God loves me. This is the reason why I can write on this blog about the Gospel, Christian faith, and theology and none of it make a difference in my life.
The Irony of Unbelief (When the Heart and Mind Split)
As I have gotten older, I find that it is easier for me to wrestle with God intellectually rather than to get in the mud with Him and just go at it like Jacob and the angel. And I find that I am a hypocrite. I encourage others to be vulnerable with God, to open up their dark closets to let His light illuminate the deep crevices and secrets they hold dear, yet I still have panic attacks sometimes when I pray. I don’t want to be vulnerable, especially not with a Being I can’t experience with my five senses, a God powerful enough to hold the planets in place while simultaneously not letting my body’s respiratory system collapse.
Ironically, the fact that the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 139:12a that “even the darkness is not dark to You” should fill me with hope, but it doesn’t. It fills me with anxiety. Not necessarily because of any one particular sin in my life, but more so because I am deeply and keenly aware of the fact that I don’t deserve His grace and I wish I did. I wish I could somehow, some way, prove myself worthy of His love. In my head, I know that’s stupid and impossible. Intellectually, I know that there’s nothing I can do to earn His love, as it is a gift and freely given, but my heart says otherwise, and the fact that I can’t do anything to tip the scale and make Him love or bless me more frustrates me in my inner being. Hence, the great divorce.
The Mending of The Great Divorce
Earlier this week, on my birthday in fact, I was talking to my professor-friend Paul Copan about some of these issues, along with more pressing matters, and he offered me not just a listening ear, but wisdom from the great theologian Martin Luther. I told Paul that I felt guilty, confused, fearful and frustrated because I had been praying for months for God to move on my behalf, to see some resemblance of light in the midst of dark shadows, and He remained silent. I went on further to describe to him why I felt unworthy to come before God and his throne of grace. Paul paused for a moment and, in his typical way of doing things, asked if I knew what Martin Luther’s response was to Satan when accused of sin? I told him I had not the slightest idea. He responded,
“It is well-known that in his writings in table conversation Luther would often refer to visits from the Devil, how the Devil would come to him and whisper in his ear, accusing him of all manner of filthy sin: “Martin, you are a liar, greedy, lecherous, a blasphemer, a hypocrite. You cannot stand before God.”
To which Luther would respond: “Well, yes, I am. And, indeed, Satan, you do not know the half of it. I have done much worse than that and if you care to give me your full list, I can no doubt add to it and help make it more complete. But you know what? My Savior has died for all my sins – those you mention, those I could add and, indeed, those I have committed but am so wicked that I am unaware of having done so. It does not change the fact that Christ has died for all of them; his blood is sufficient; and on the Day of Judgment I shall be exonerated because he has taken all my sins on himself and clothed me in his own perfect righteousness.”
I feel like, in quoting Luther, Paul was essentially telling me “Take your eyes off yourself and your sin, and put your eyes back on God with all of you—both heart and mind.” I then confessed to him why I was scared to open my Bible (it was because of a fear that I would come to the Word of God as just a book, a collection of words on pages, as opposed to God’s love letter toward His creation). He disagreed with me, as I knew he would, telling me that to see the Bible through both intellectual and passionate lenses was what was best, choosing neither one over the other, but both together. My hope and prayer is that I’ll be able to look at God as both an intellectual, inquisitive being who has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and as a beloved child of the Most High. After all, hasn’t He commanded us to love Him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all our strength and with all your mind”?