Over the years, my personal relationship with “religion” has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. Before, during, and after prison, I have (on some — and often many — levels) struggled with what I should believe, from a “religious” perspective. My core beliefs have always fallen within the “Judeo-Christian” context, but being a person who often overthinks everything, I’d never been content with a singular truth.
Throughout my life, as I examine my life in the context of the choices I’ve made and the trials I’ve endured, I have often questioned my Deity, asking Him why I’ve experienced the things I’ve experienced.
“Why am I going through this?” I asked.
“Why did I make that choice?” I asked.
“Why do I hurt so much?” I asked.
“Why did I hurt the ones I love?” I asked.
How can I be expected to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God if He doesn’t even answer the most basic questions, let alone provide relief?
And then, while watching a movie recently, a quote made everything make perfect sense.
“You of all people should know . . . the teacher is always quiet during the test.”
And suddenly, it all fell into place for me.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, my wife and I recently saw the movie An Interview With God. In the film, God tells this journalist that He knew the journalist needed to connect with his faith, so, as a journalist, God decided to offer to be interviewed. Because, well, that’s what journalists do. And for the journalist, it worked.
In an on-screen post-film discussion, a commentator said something to the effect of, “Just as God used an ‘interview’ to connect with a journalist, He uses things in our own lives that we are familiar with to connect with us.’
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a major film buff. I even have a t-shirt that says. “I Speak Fluent Movie Quotes.” So, in retrospect, what better way for God to relate to me than through film? And that movie quote about the teacher always being quiet during the test rang a bell within me.
So I decided to keep going.
I found myself immersed in a rabbit hole of Christian films, watching them at-random on NetFlix or PureFlix or Christian Cinema as I worked in my home office. Admittedly, some of them were corny and hokey cliche, but several were amazing. So I kept watching.
And then I found the film, Do You Believe? — and more specifically, this scene:
Something about this scene changed everything for me.
“Young man,” the guy carrying a giant wooden Cross says, “do you believe in the Cross of Christ, son?”
“I’m a pastor,” the man in the car replies, shrugging his shoulders.
“You didn’t answer my question,” the guy grins, holding his giant wooden Cross. “I asked you if you believe in the Cross of Christ.”
“Yes,” the man in the car says.
“See, the cross is blood-stained, painful,” says the man with the giant Cross. “It loves, it forgives, and demands. What does it demand? That we profess it to this dark world. And if you believe, then the question is, What are you gonna do about it?”
And that is what did it for me.
How many Christians claim to be Christians, but don’t actually believe? To quote Clarance Gilyard‘s character in the first Left Behind movie, “Knowing and believing are two different things!” And perhaps that’s where I’ve been for so many years. On an intellectual level, I’ve always “known” God was real and “known” about Jesus, but did I ever actually believe? Honestly, I’m not sure.
But I am now.
This is what I believe.
So, what am I going to do about it? The first thing is to live what I believe. Beyond that, it’s really not up to me…
However, regardless of that, I still believe.