I tried my best to shake the familiar specter of doubt. It was like I was a teenager once again – go down to the altar, pray, repent, weep before God, ask Him to take away these questions, to help you shake the Devil off your back. . . Days of exhilaration where I would think things were going to work – then something would happen to make me question all over again. I should be honest here and say that I was wrestling with issues that I had had since childhood. I would walk, apprehensively, in what felt like ‘victory’ – only to fall all over myself in moments of insanity. Having been raised ‘holiness’, being unable to ‘keep the faith’ was devastating.
This inability for stability has been a theme in my life. It was no less different during this time. I had thought that by ‘answering the call’ – by being ‘in the will of God’ – it would somehow be the magic ticket to spiritual freedom. It wasn’t. Many nights I would finish preaching, only to find myself in the deepest depths of despair I’d ever known. Surely this was simply the Devil attacking a faithful Christian . . . right? Surely, if I prayed more, if I sought God more – it would all be fixed. I would be fixed.
But I wasn’t fixed. And I was once again living a lie. I had serious doubts about my faith, I could no longer toe the line as a youth pastor and teacher. So, I tendered my resignation. We had just had our first child, my wife was unable to work due to complications – so I used money as an excuse. We loaded all we had into another U-haul and we moved to Georgia, where I had landed a job in the IT department of a small college. The new home was close to a church that had a close relationship with our home-church, so many of the faces were familiar. They were so happy to see us in Georgia! They were excited to have another ‘minister’ and they had plans to put me to work. Me? I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to teach, I didn’t want to lead, I didn’t even want to sing in the choir (which has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of church for me). But I have this ridiculous fear of disappointing others. So . . . invariably I did do all of those things. Over the course of three years in Georgia, it was simply more of the same. Up, down, etc. etc.
Going into our third year, I had entered a phase where I was simply going to give up. I told my wife of my doubts, laying out my positions, but never really getting to the heart of why. She was the rock she is, and she simply took it all in and I’m sure began to intercede to God on my behalf. It was around this time that I happened upon a little website called TheologyWeb. It was a turning point in my life – truly. I was able to challenge myself, my doubts, my questions – to really begin to see that what I had considered my faith was shallow. I was out of my depth, and I resolved to change that. I began to read more and more, trying to self-educate myself into the fray. I soon saw that I truly was empty without God, that I could never resolve to live as if God didn’t exist. So, I recommitted myself to Him – but reservedly. I knew that I shouldn’t compartmentalize myself – I had to be honest with God, and honestly seek ‘the truth’.