Believe: to accept something as true. Since I was a child, I have insisted on seeing with my own eyes before I would believe in just about anything. I remember when I was about 7 years old I had a little notebook where I collected all of my evidence pertaining to the profound question, “Was Santa Real?”. I dared not tell anyone about my suspicions for fear that they would try to throw me off course. The search for the truth consumed me. I looked in the very back of my mother’s closet where I found the same wrapping paper used by Santa. I noticed an unusually large amount of bags from K-Mart being discarded leading up to the big day. I even heard the trunk of my parent’s car opening late at night, always accompanied by stern whispers from Mom to “not wake the kids”, and some inappropriate retaliation that Dad would offer in response. Yes, everything seemed to be pointing in the same direction. But I just couldn’t completely dismiss the jolly elf’s existence without actually seeing who was placing the presents under the tree. On Christmas Eve I bribed my little brother to go to bed early so that I could catch my parents in the act … or be among the elite group of lucky children that had actually caught Santa coming down the chimney. Again, the trunk of the car opened, and I peeked out the window as my older siblings were helping bring in bag after bag. I crept down the hallway, and laid on the floor as I peeked down the stairs. The sinking feeling of disappointment mixed with the relief of finally knowing the truth. I slowly went back to bed, knowing that something had changed for me forever. I wanted to know the truth, but the harsh reality of it left that 7-year-old little girl feeling betrayed.
Several years later, it was time for my confirmation into the Catholic church. In my mind, God was just a real as Santa. Stories told to children to make them behave, and instill a sense of impending doom and guilt when they did something wrong. I rejected the idea that confessing my sin to another man and receiving the instruction to “cleanse” myself of that sin by reciting the same prayer as everyone else was valid. My viewpoint at the time was that God, like Santa, was part of a grand design to manipulate others. And at the center of that manipulation was power that was corrupt. I refused to be confirmed; a decision that broke my Mother’s heart.
I needed evidence in order to believe. To experience something gave it validity. My life continued after walking out of the church that day. Off and on I would tempt God to prove He was real by doing what I thought would anger Him into punishing me. Over and over my conclusion was that if God was real, He would have stopped me from doing something that immoral. After all, it had to have offended Him … if He was real.
“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
“Now we have heard for ourselves” seems to be a commonality among people. Absolutely it’s possible to believe in God because of the testimonies you have heard. It’s what draws us in to get more information. Our curiosity compels us to seek the truth. The people from the town believed the woman from the well enough to go and hear for themselves. But once they were there, it was their own experience that brought them into a full belief that Jesus was in fact the “Savior of the World”.
“Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.”
The official sought Jesus in the hope that his child would be healed. When Jesus sent him on his way with the promise of the boy’s healing, the official “took Jesus at his word and departed”. After receiving confirmation of his child’s health, his entire family believed. That father had heard of the miracle of turning water into wine, and by the testimony of others he was compelled to seek the truth.
When I was younger and walked away from God, it wasn’t because I was positive that there wasn’t a God. I was more terrified of looking and finding nothing. I understood that the hopeless feeling of learning that Santa didn’t exist was nothing compared to finding out that God was not real. Even if from a distance, I needed to hold onto that shred of hope that somehow, someway there would be a chance that I could catch a glimpse of Him. And slowly, after hearing of others testimonies of what God had done in their lives, I approached in curiosity to experience Him for myself.
If you have a testimony, share it as the opportunity presents itself. What God has helped us with isn’t about our failure, it’s about His glory. And maybe, just maybe, your testimony will cause someone else to approach Jesus with the hope of finding truth, and they too will believe.
“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields@ They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35b