I spend a large portion of each summer as a teacher, counselor, and ‘camp mom’ at our church camp—the same one I attended as a kid and the one my kids all grew up going to. I love it. It really is my home away from home.
There are a lot of reasons I love camp so much, one of which is the fact that I have been able to see and participate in the spiritual growth of so many young people. This past summer was no different.
During the week for high school students, “Casey”, who had never been there before, was not a believer, but she was obviously searching. Throughout the week I had the opportunity to teach and talk to Casey: answering her questions and refuting her claims against the truth of God’s Word (graciously, of course).
Our conversations were intense and what made each one so special was the fact that she always started it by saying, “I don’t mean to be difficult and I’m not trying to argue. I just really want to know why….” (or how, or where, etc.)
One day while I was teaching a class on living what you say you believe when Casey asked, “But how do you know God is real? You can’t see him. You can’t touch him. And don’t tell me because the Bible says so, because you don’t really know who wrote it—you only think you know based on what it tells you.”
Some of the kids answered her by saying it all comes down to faith (which is true), but that wasn’t enough for Casey. So to help her understand, we had the following (condensed) conversation:
Me: Do you listen to the news?
Me: Do you believe what you hear on the news?
Casey: Not always.
Me: Smart girl.
Me: Seriously, though, when you hear a news story you believe the reporter because they have been to the source of the story or conducted their fact-finding research in order to have something to tell us.
Casey: A lot of times I do my own research.
Me: Okay, but where do you get that information? You can’t go into a medical lab or a war zone or other places to see for yourself so at some point you have to decide to believe someone. Right?
Casey: Yah…yah. I see what you’re saying. But…
Me: No—don’t say but. Not yet, anyway. I want you to read the Bible as if you are doing research on a news story. Read it because it is a first-hand account (in most cases) written by the people with first-hand knowledge or who recorded the words of someone else who did. I’m also going to give you some sources that are secular resources so you can use them to prove or disprove what the Bible is saying.
Casey: I’ll do that.
Me: Great! And I’ll be available for whatever questions you have.
Casey is still searching and studying, but she’s getting closer to accepting Christ instead of farther away. And like I told her, when she does decide to make Jesus the LORD of her life, He is going to do amazing things through her because she is a powerhouse. She puts 100% into everything she does.
I shared this incident with you because I want you to know that it is never impossible for someone to come to the knowledge of the truth of who God and Jesus are, but it is also a decision that can only be made by the person deciding whether to believe or not.
In other words, when someone says, “I want to believe in God but I don’t know how”, it isn’t up to you to make them believe. It is up to them to decide to believe. You can help them get there, though, by:
- Praying for them.
- Living your life in such a way that they see Jesus in you (whether they realize that’s what they are seeing or not).
- Share scripture with them.
- Give them a Bible (NIV, NKJV, or NAS) to read, but before doing so, mark some key verses about creation, faith, salvation, and Christian living.
- Offer to be their source of counsel, interpretation, and Q and A resource.
- Make sure you will be able to answer the questions they ask and/or have the scripture ready to back up your answer. If you can’t answer their questions immediately, be prepared to search for the answers.
In doing these things you will be able to help someone decide and see for themselves whether they have a reason to believe in God and have their doubts and skepticisms answered.
If YOU are that person who wants to believe but is having a difficult time doing so, ask yourself why. Why don’t you believe?
- Has God not given you what you asked for?
- Have you been living out of his will but expecting him to bless you anyway?
- Have you experienced a painful life-situation you don’t want to accept and are blaming God for it happening?
- Do you doubt God’s love for you because you aren’t living the life you think you should have here on earth?
If any of these statements apply to you and your doubts about God’s love or even his existence, don’t think for one second God is turning his back on you. God is big enough and has enough love and patience to wait for you to come to the realization of who he is.
God created us. He understands how we think—that we’ll have doubts and get angry when things don’t go our way. But God also ultimately knows what is best for us. He is the ‘big picture’ guy capable of seeing far beyond our line of sight.
So if you are struggling with whether or not God is real and present in this world, there’s only one way to put your doubts to rest—the Bible. Read it. Ask someone to explain it to you. Ask God to open your mind to understand it.
You don’t even have to believe the Bible to open it up and read it. Let it simply serve as your source of research. Let it confirm or deny your beliefs. And don’t worry if things don’t happen overnight. The Bible tells us…
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?
And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
~ Matthew 18:10-14
~ By Darla Noble