It’s almost time. In a few short months I am walking in my college graduation ceremony. Five long years are finally coming to an end. As I look back on my faith during my college experience I see an intense roller coaster filled with ups, downs, dark tunnels, bright sunshine, slow crawling and incredibly fast sprints. There are a few experiences that stand out to me which ignite an unmistakable feeling in my gut. These experiences are times of major doubt, the feeling they leave me with is indescribable.
During my first year I was living in the dorms, and in our young “college” freedom two friends from my building and I drove for four hours in the middle of the night during finals week to Santa Cruz. We had been chatting online with one of my dorm-mate’s old friends on the subject of theology. After the long drive and a few cups of coffee we were in this man’s living room at 5 a.m. talking about ideas I had never heard before. He insisted that God’s grace would extend to everyone no matter what. No sort of faith or relationship with Jesus was necessary. Everyone you see will one day be in heaven. He quoted verses, read from books and made quite an argument. My first instinct was to completely dismiss him and cling to my young, naïve faith I had found in high school.
But something inside me was shaken.
I asked myself, “Could this be true?” I purposefully allowed myself to struggle through these ideas. I prayed and prayed. I lost sleep. My grades plummeted. I came to a low place, and while I was there Jesus found me and brought me out.
While I was still recovering from this whirlwind experience, I was walking through the University Union at Cal Poly and saw a man holding a large sign and preaching about Jesus. Many were there yelling in protest; most were Christians. The man said that in order to achieve salvation our lives must reflect it by perfection. If Christ had truly redeemed us we would no longer sin … at all. I sat next to fellow Christians and listened as they assured passers by that this was not what Christianity really was. Of course my initial reaction was to agree with them. But I stopped and asked myself again, “Could this be true?” Again I prayed and prayed. I lost more sleep. My grades went down the tubes. I found myself in that same place again. This time so confused that I wondered whether the truth could be known at all. Again Jesus found me and carried me.
A few short years later a knock came on my apartment door. Two sharply dressed young men asked to come in and tell us about the Church of Latter Day Saints. My roommates and I experienced five full lessons over a few months and to this day stay in touch with our two Mormon missionaries. Again I reacted with doubt towards them and their message. But yet again I asked, “Could this be true?” The cycle went round. Jesus brought me to a place I would never have chosen to go.
He brought me back.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This applies no matter how long you’ve been a Christian. If you think you’re done pursuing Christ, if you think you’ve "found what you’re looking for" then you probably haven’t found anything at all. Every time my faith is challenged, every time I let myself struggle through difficult times, I emerge even stronger in my faith with Jesus. Don’t be afraid to doubt. Don’t be afraid to be challenged. He says in his Word that he won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can handle. No matter what strange road you go down, if you go with Jesus, you will return, and when you do you will be a new and stronger person.