The God Who Walks Through the Door

For the past decade or so, my brain has chipped away at my faith. I believe a credible intellectual defense of the basic tenets of Christianity exists. But I also think a credible intellectual defense of the basic tenets of atheism exists. And when I start to think about these stories–of a baby born of a virgin, of a God who became a human being, of a man who was God who took away the separation of sin and guilt through his death, of a man who was God who died and then arose from the grave, of a promise that the entire world will one day taste that resurrection, will one day become the kingdom of heaven–well, I have my own set of questions for each one of those claims. But I sometimes wonder if my questions are really just a way to avoid the God in whom I say I believe.

I think of the way my kids ask questions. Sometimes they arise out of sincere curiosity: Penny asking what “tearfully” means when we read together, Marilee asking, “Where my daddy?” when she wakes up in the morning, William wondering how a musician is able to repeat the same rhythm on the drums throughout a song. But sometimes they ask questions in an attempt to divert or distract me. The whiny, “Can you do it for me?” The, “But Mommy-y-y! Why can’t we have a cookie for breakfast!?!” The repetitive “When are we going to get there?”

In my questions for God, I’m like my kids. Sometimes sincere in my doubts. Sometimes whiny, repetitive, insistent. Often not even asking God directly but allowing my doubts to protect me from talking to God, or listening to God, at all.

If my faith was once a glass ball, transparent and whole, it has in recent years become a ball with holes, with jagged edges and missing pieces.

And yet, God keeps showing up. Keeps walking through my door. Keeps surprising me by faithful love. By giving me not just some ideology that competes intellectually with all the other ideologies. But by giving me experiences of love and grace and truth and answered prayer. Sometimes the answers are simple ones that could just be happenstance–the fact that Penny is happy at school and has friends, that William and his dad built teepees in the yard yesterday, that our new babysitter believes in Jesus. But sometimes there’s enough happenstance for me to believe God has been at work. Again.

In Advent, we are preparing for the arrival of the word made flesh, the God who showed up and interrupted human history with good news for all people.

Mary asked the angel, upon hearing news that she would bear God’s son, “How will this be?”

Perhaps there was some doubt contained in the question, and perhaps some sincere curiosity, but I suspect there was also a degree of humility. How could it be that God chose to show up within me?

And, as prayers are answered all around me, as I find myself the recipient of grace, as I recognize God’s invitation for me to get involved in this new community, and as I respond with a fragile but not yet shattered faith, I ask, “How will this be?”

And yet, with Mary, “Let it be to me as you have said.”

May God come into the world, and into my life, once more.

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).

Comments

  1. Nicely written, AJ. I believe I’ll be more mindful of how I speak to God today, and hopefully in the days to come. Advent blessings to you.

  2. Experiencing God’s grace has brought me low & humbled me over the last so many years. Yet, it’s this very grace that strengthens my faith when it, too, feels like “a ball with holes, with jagged edges and missing pieces.” Poignant & beautiful words, Amy Julia. Thank you.

  3. Leslie Leyland Fields says:

    Amy, this is so beautifully written! The simple phrase, “And as prayers are answered all around me . . .” I just found my heart nodding vigorously, Yes, Yes. How do I know a god is really out there? For some reason, all my concerns and prayers are responded to in such wise ways, and in such ways that I cannot name “Chance.” Even the “no’s” and the many “not yet’s,” while they pierce me with frustration, assure me I’m NOT the nucleus of the world. Finally, that is the greatest and most freeing knowledge. Thank you for your lovely writing and excellent insights!

  4. I am so glad you started out by saying that atheism and belief in Christ can both be the subject of reasoned thought. Jesus, though, actually did walk the earth and dies for our sins, and that’s what the rest of your post gets at so well: God answers prayers all around us because he really exists. It’s not a matter of reasoned thought, it’s a matter of reality.
    Thanks for getting me thinking once again, AJ.
    Tim
    P.S. You know one thing I really like about being grown up? I get to have a cookie for breakfast if I want.

  5. Amy Julia, I was thinking about this very thing today–while teaching music. My students asked me if there were any New England Christmas Carols–aside from Sleigh Ride :) and I was reminded of the Elizabeth Poston arrangement of “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” so appropriate for Advent.

    I was touched that the girls came back and wanted to learn the song

    The tree of life my soul hath seen
    Laden with fruit and always green
    The tree of life my soul hath seen
    Laden with fruit and always green
    The trees of nature fruitless be
    Compared with Christ the apple tree

    His beauty doth all things excel
    By faith I know but ne’er can tell
    His beauty doth all things excel
    By faith I know but ne’er can tell
    The glory which I now can see
    In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

    For happiness I long have sought
    And pleasure dearly I have bought
    For happiness I long have sought
    And pleasure dearly I have bought
    I missed of all but now I see
    ‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

    I’m weary with my former toil
    Here I will sit and rest a while
    I’m weary with my former toil
    Here I will sit and rest a while
    Under the shadow I will be
    Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

    This fruit does make my soul to thrive
    It keeps my dying faith alive
    This fruit does make my soul to thrive
    It keeps my dying faith alive
    Which makes my soul in haste to be
    With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

    Here is a recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3gtAfLkySU

  6. Here is my thoughts. Did not like the implied thinking in your blog.

    I assume “the separation of sin and guilt” is “the separation from God because of…”, or? (English is my second language)

    Second if we could “I believe a credible intellectual defence of the basic tenets of Christianity exists” rationalize our way to God then, why faith?

    Wisdom (another of Gods sons if you will) is Gods creation and he did not send
    it to save the world he sent “humility”, “I am meek, and humble of heart”.

    As Christians we are in a total war, either the Devil/sin wins or we use Jesus sacrifice to win.

    Jesus did not die on the cross just because God needed a token or excuse to
    forgive our sin, the cross is in fact the power to change our lives to become really free, that is free from sin and its consequences. Change that is not just appearance but really deep personality changes.

    However most Christians are so “humble” that they let the Devil run all over them!

    The Bible says to HATE evil/sin, that is not a “Please God, help me” and that is all, but active fight. It is hard work to hate! There was really no reason for God to allow or create hate if it was not because we needed it to win over sin in our lives.
    Romans 12 9: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

    God hates sin since he is LOVE and needs to bless, like we need to breathe. But sin got in between God and us so he could not bless us…

    So by Jesus Christ death I get the tool/power to DEMAND sin leave. (stop the thoughts that leads to the sinful actions, thoughts are life’s steering wheel and if I do not hold on to it, control them, I will end up in the ditch).

    Sin is really “wrong” love. And by hating the source I weaken the temptation and if not fed it dies! “stand against Satan, and he will flee from you.”

    When we see the diamond/life from this angle we can not help but LOVE God, nobody needs to tell us!

    Our love for God is the conduit for his blessings.

    The biggest blessing: to be allowed to build a treasure in heaven.


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