Knowing Becomes Believing
The boy walked into the quiet night, stepping towards the massive concrete structure that loomed towards him. Dark thoughts circulating in his head, he wondered why he was in this situation and if he would ever get out. He envisioned the newspaper headlines that would appear the next day if he decided to give up hope of ever escaping his demons: “Boy found dead on eve of 18th birthday.” Recognizing them as stupid thoughts, he pushed them away and walked away from the soothing dam and calming lights, continuing his search for something that would assuage his doubts and calm his fears.
He had not always been like this. For years, he had been involved with children’s ministries: Backyard Bible Clubs, Good News Clubs, summer Bible camps, home schooling children’s conferences, tutoring inner city kids. They had made him feel close to God, enjoy his life, and feel like he was giving to people. But something was different. He felt unreal. There was something missing. He felt trapped by the monster that was his own sinful desires. He was trapped. He tried to keep going, and kept doing the things he had always done, hoping they could still give him the same sense of joy and contentment…
But eventually his happiness dissipated, slowly, leaving him in near despair and wondering if everything he had taught kids for years was true and real. He had not distanced himself from his church; he still wore the mask of believing what he heard and sang inside the walls of that building. But he doubted. Why couldn’t he ever seem to defeat the sin that had trapped him for years? What was the point in “fighting” if he never won?
He embarked on a crusade of realness. He no longer disguised his emotions, boldly displaying what he felt on his face and in his writing. He stopped singing some of the songs at the church service, stopped reading his Bible, stopped talking to God. He just tried to get by. He just was. He was still searching, looking for something, anything at all that would make him feel better. Even in his quest to be real and unhypocritical, he failed. He was deceptive. In his quest to find something to make him feel wanted and more loved, he imagined the relationship he could perhaps have with the latest girl to catch his eye. Whenever he saw her, the unspoken words he wished he could say clogged up in his throat like the water behind a dam. But there was never anything he could find to make him happy. Months went by, not devoid of light, but characterized by lengthy periods of night.
Finally, he made a decision to go back to the place where he had felt closest to God and most alive. He returned to the Bible camp for inner city kids in the countryside of Oklahoma and left his “dark” persona behind him, purposing to be real and find God by depending on Him. He went in with the mindset of going to God for help in the tough situations, and came out with hope and faith. God had not let him down. He was teaching children many of the same things he had taught them before, but it was real to him. He believed now instead of just knowing. He hoped instead of despairing. He was fulfilled instead of empty. This was what he had been looking for. He had found God when he became desperate for Him. And when he returned home, he didn’t leave God in Oklahoma. He kept seeking God, learning about God, and drawing nearer to Him.
A year removed from the lonely boy walking in the night picturing newspaper headlines, he looked back. Yes, he had made mistakes and encountered setbacks. But he was more than just older. No longer did he question what he believed. No longer did he trust just because that’s what he had been taught. He believed out of experience, and he lived in hope.