Living on the Verge of Belief


Hanging over the first-floor stairway landing of our National Office building is one of A. W. Tozer’s most forthright and endearing statements: “What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” For many years, I zipped past this quote and wrote it off as a blatantly obvious statement of spiritual reality. In recent months, however, it has confronted me with a demand for earnest response—like the troll forbidding passage over the bridge until the wanderer first answers a riddle:

“What do YOU believe about God?”

If you’re like me, you’ll likely answer the much easier alternative—What do I PROFESS to believe about God?—while dodging its more probing intent: How does MY LIFE REFLECT what I believe about God?

We hail God’s promises as precious and unquestionable. We speak them over one another as a means of encouragement. But when the rubber hits the road, do we really live as though they’re true?

If I believe [He] will uphold [me] with [His] righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), why do I keep swatting it away?

If I believe He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), why do I keep looking for a dark place to hide them? Or if they have been removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), why do I keep tripping over them?

If I believe He has plans to prosper [me] . . . plans to give [me] hope and a future (Jer. 29:11), why do I continually fret about finances?

Until what we live by aligns with what we profess, we will never fully experience the wealth of our spiritual inheritance. Yet, on the road to the cross, doubt lurks at every turn.

One of the most perplexing and seemingly contradictory statements in Scripture can be found in the ninth chapter of Mark’s gospel, where a man desperate for Jesus’ healing touch on his demon-possessed son pleads, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (v.24b). Well, which is it? Does he believe or doesn’t he? It’s both. And that’s OK.

God can handle our uncertainty. Otherwise he wouldn’t have instructed us to Be merciful to those who doubt (Jude 1:22). And at the same time, as we are encouraged in the preceding verses,

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (vv. 20-21).

This is our hallowed hope. It’s where we find both the strength and courage to turn doubt to belief—and live by what we profess.

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