Recently I was at a Bible study listening to a discussion about recent archeological digs and how they prove that the Old Testament stories were real. It may have been suggested that Christians who believe that these stories could be figurative are not as Christiany as fundamentalists. I was uncomfortable. So when I got home that night, I wrote this and sent it to some members of my Bible group, who I love.
Okay, I admit it: I don’t know if the Old Testament Stories are literal or figurative. I know that they could be literal since God can do anything, but I think it’s okay to be uncertain. Here’s what I’m not afraid to say: it doesn’t matter to me. If one day an archaeologist discovers that Noah’s ark was really a row boat, it won’t shake my faith. Regardless of whether those stories HAPPENED, I know that that those stories are the TRUTH. I know that the fall is the truth because I live it. Every day I am Eve, as I assert my independence from God and decide to go it on my own. Every time God calls, I am Jonah, running away from Him and then begging for help when I get stuck. My entire life I have been Paul, persecuting God and then begging Him to transform my weakness into something worthy. When faced with any big decision, I am Samuel, asking God for sign after sign while knowing in my heart exactly what He has told me to do. For decades, I was Esau, trading my divine inheritance for fleeting worldly pleasure. Daily, I am Sarah, praising God one minute, and then laughing in the face of His promises the next. And far too often I am Peter, losing my faith when the waves arise, and denying my savior. I believe the scriptures because they are the true story of my soul, the truth of me. And I know, since I have never revealed the truth of my soul to anyone, including myself, that this story could only have been written by my creator. Every time I read the Bible an alarm goes off in my soul because I am being confronted with myself, with my sin, and that’s hard, but it’s also a relief. At least I am known. At least my deepest darkest secrets aren’t actually secrets at all, but simply the painful truth of the human condition. I am not alone, I am just a sinner, like everyone else. And so the alarm is loud, and jarring, and makes me uncomfortable, but it’s sounding off to save me, like alarms do . And as it’s sounding, I am reading on, and I learn that a hero is coming to rescue me. And when He arrives, He picks me up and reveals the unbelievable news that I am not going to get what I deserve, after all, because He already has. And then He silences the alarm in my soul, leaving stillness and peace. The scriptures are a love story between my creator and me…the perfect love that I’ve been yearning for my entire life. He created that yearning in me, and He fulfilled it.
So why don’t we just tell our stories? Why are we worried about “proving” something we can’t see, touch, hear, taste, or understand? We can’t prove anything that’s not observable and repeatable, but we do have the capacity to believe, love, and share. And this must be God’s purposeful design. If he created us to seek him and love him and put our trust and faith in Him by our own free will, how could he possibly allow us to PROVE, beyond a shadow of a doubt, His existence? If God’s existence were proven, love as we know it would cease to exist. Because at love’s core is faith, and choice, and risk. Love’s beauty lies in the fact that we chose it, without demanding proof. But just for the sake of argument, if I’m ever on a witness stand and required to prove my God’s existence, I’m not going to start by reviewing the latest archeological dig. I’ll say something like this:
Twelve years ago I was so strung out on booze and drugs that my hands weren’t steady enough to hold a book…and a few years ago I published one. Eleven years ago I was a cheater about to be expelled from school, and last year I opened one. Ten years ago I was sitting in a jail cell, drunk and doomed…and today I’m sober and free. Nine years ago I was lying in an abortion clinic, and this morning I am waiting for my three precious, perfect babies to awake. Eight years ago I was struggling to get out of a toxic relationship with a man I might have married, and this morning I’m watching the most generous, kind, selfless man I’ve ever known prepare breakfast for my children. Less than a decade ago I sat in a basement believing I could do nothing to escape other than end my life, and today I believe I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Today I can’t keep up with my list of dreams because they keep coming true so fast. And I know, like I know I love my kids, that the trajectory of my life was altered the night I fell to the bathroom floor and whispered: HELP JESUS, IM SCREWED. AND EXHAUSTED AND SCARED. YOU ARE MY LAST RESORT, SO IM GONNA GIVE YOU A SHOT. That’s all, I think.
So the reason I believe in Scripture and in Jesus is not because of historical accuracy or archaeological finds or this sermon or that dissertation. I believe because I was BLIND and now I SEE. Because I was a PRISONER and now I’m FREE. And if I can feel the wind blowing on my skin while you are proving that the same wind doesn’t exist, then I guess all we can do is shrug, for now, and keep on walking, together.