A continuation of the series by Luke, Faith in Doubt.
My fall away from God began while I was at Moody Bible Institute studying to become a pastor. Somewhere during my time there, I noticed a shift in my relationship with God. My passion for God cooled. My love turned into commitment. I relied on God less, I prayed less, and I read my Bible less. I also learned how to obey God through discipline instead of love. I could pray when my faith felt weak, I could love others even if I didn’t feel compassion, and I could obey God even when I didn’t understand His commands. I was no super-Christian, but I could often fight through my own feelings and do what I thought God expected of me. At the time, this felt like a victory over myself, but in retrospect I believe this was a terrible mistake. As my obedient actions increasingly failed to reflect my true desires, I became hollow. My faith during this time was like a walnut as its insides deteriorate. Instead of addressing my dwindling desire to serve God, I maintained my shell through discipline.
Then, when I was twenty-one, my faith was rocked by a series of questions that challenged the vacant core of my faith. If God is sovereign, then isn’t he responsible for all the terrible things in the world? Why do so many “Spirit-filled” Christians commit so many blunders? And most importantly for me, “Is this the kind of world we would have if there was a God in heaven?”
These questions were percolating in my mind when I had another kind of crisis. I fell in love with a girl (Jaymi), and I fell hard. We’re talking like romance movie hard. Within a few weeks we were talking about marriage. Some people started telling us to slow down, but that just didn’t feel like an option. It still doesn’t feel like it was an option. We were in love and that was just the fact of the matter. Along with this love came a desire for more physical intimacy, and before long we were getting into trouble. Now waiting until we were married didn’t feel like an option either.
For two kids preparing for ministry this was a devastating problem. We came to a moment where we needed to make a tough decision. If we did not break off the relationship (even if only temporarily) we were going to continue getting into trouble. I remember talking about it in the park near her old apartment. The relationship I had with her felt more real to me than anything I had felt for God in a long time. Could I really risk giving her up for my hollow shell of a faith? When the question was posed, the answer was obvious. No, I could not. The shell of my faith collapsed, and together we abandoned our faith and left the Church.