Faith is not ceaseless. It couldn’t be, right? At times, it seems to me that faith is just a memory. It can be invented, buried deep, and even erased. Some people say that faith is a journey that takes you from a place of confusion to the destination of truth. They don’t mention that there’s a possibility that you could get lost along the road, or you stop in between and decide that you’ve got no reason to go any further.
I struggle to understand faith, especially my own.
Being born into a non-Christian family, it has been easy to neglect God and let the world’s principles mold my personality. They’re not all evil. I think they existed so that we can make choices that will define who we are. It wasn’t until years later when I was in college that I met God. He was all everybody described him to be, loving and forgiving. I definitely needed some love and forgiveness at that time in my life, still do, and probably always will.
Once I entered a relationship with God, I soaked all in; I shut myself off from the outer world and dove deeply into the Kingdom. All I wanted was to worship the King and do everything He told me to do. I would go wherever he sent me, doing all kind of selfless acts, all for His glory. They’re not all fairy tales of course, and many times my cup felt empty, but I had no regrets in obeying and God always filled my cup again.
At one point, I was working at an isolated camp on a southern California island, scrubbing pots and pans because I wanted to hear from God. He whispered that I should go to Central America and learn to love others. So I went, against the objections of my family who wanted me to get “a real job” and a normal life.
Have you ever had a mountaintop experience during your walk with God? The moment where all you feel is righteousness, and you began your day smiling because you know there’s a purpose for waking up. I had those moments not long ago. I wanted it to be like that all the time. Looking back, everything was set; there are no questions of why I was doing various things and my assumption was always “that’s how God intended it to be.” I left no room for doubts until the door was cracked and things from the outside world crept back in.
I remember the story where Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4:35–41. There are many time in my life where I would repeat what the disciples said to Jesus,” Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” In the story, Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!”
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Even in real life, storms eventually will die down — sometimes leaving damage or even casualties, but they always stop. Same goes for the good moments in life. I was stupid to think that I’ll always stay at the mountain top, spiritual high, and cloaked in satisfaction wearing the badge of “the good Christian”. Maybe it’s because of that pride that God allowed me to go down to the valley.
I do believe that we can’t and shouldn’t stay on that perceived mountaintop with Jesus our whole life. If we do, we’re creating a bubble, our own little kingdom with citizens of our own ideals. The Sunday school answer to that would be “As it is, you don’t belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world,” (John 15:19b). Yeah, I get that. But what about those who live in the valley, the vast desert with dry bones waiting to be awakened. If every Christian stayed on top, who is going to whisper words of life to the dead? Not only that, but we’ll discover something more in us when we decide to leave our Christian bubble.
As much as we try not be of the world, we live in it. We see things that make us cringe, we encounter unanswered questions, and we do things that we regret. We try to comfort the brokenhearted only to find we still have dark and unfinished chapters in our own lives. It’s ugly down there, completely uncomfortable, and full of temptations. Only those who are strong enough in their faith could be unchanged, and if such people exist, I’m not one of them.
I lost the battle to keep my faith unblemished.
All sorts of temptations came to me and I took them all in. I started to become incredibly angry with God and my journey was at a crossroads with me deciding whether to go further or not. I blamed God for how things in my life hadn’t turned out the way I had wanted. But, despite all that, I always knew it was not God’s fault. I knew I was the one who chose to go down from the mountaintop, to be in the world and to discover myself fully.
They’re not all living in vain; the questions we have, the hardships that we face, and the seasons of fading faith — they’re pieces of a puzzle waiting to be completed.
Without accepting struggles in our faith, we won’t see the beauty of the ultimate truth. So when you’re losing faith, embrace it, recognize and claim in-authenticity in your walk with God and straightened it out. And know, that is a choice only you can make. It has always been a choice; our faith, to stay on the mountaintop or go down to the valley, to face challenges in life. God gave a choice to Adam and Eve to obey or disobey the command of not eating the forbidden fruit. They chose to disobey, and consequences followed. But again and again, as the Bible has recorded, God always offered a way out for its people because of His compassion. We have the freedom whether to accept it or not.
Have courage when you’re in a season of pain or doubt; it’s the deep dive before reaching the bottom so that you can push off the bottom to resurface.
It’s good to know, too, that you’re not alone in this, there are countless others who are in the same boat, including me. Jesus cares, and he won’t let us drown for too long, even when we have brought the consequences upon ourselves. That’s why he calmed the storm for his doubtful disciples, his love is unconditional and unreserved. Remember again that it’ll end eventually, sometimes it takes longer than we want it to but rests assured that we’ll see the end. When that happens, accept the fact that you’ll be different, renewed and strengthened. Rejoice because no matter how many wrong turns we take in our lives or how imperfect our faith is, we can always go back to God who loves and forgives unconditionally. We only need to choose whether to make the move or not.
About Sten Ivan:
He is the co-founder and CEO at StayMarta, an online platform where users can list and book Christian accommodations and adventures. When he’s not wandering the unexplored corners around the world, he enjoys being a good friend and doing silly things to brighten someone’s day.