I never relied on the mercy of God until I stopped believing He existed.
Before, if God had appeared before me, I would have pointed first to a prayer I said at an age young enough I don’t even remember it, then to my daily efforts to love Him, then to my volunteering and life dedicated to the mission he gave me as evidence of how worthy I was to be called ‘a friend of God’.
Now, if He turns out to exist, I will have nothing to point to except an integrity of heart. I would actually be totally laid bare before that higher power, completely lacking in anything He would consider valuable, except my full honesty. In fact, if anything, He would have good reason to consider me an enemy.
I would be, by the perfect definition, At His Mercy.
The image of me standing before Him with the circumstances of my life naked and shivering in His gaze, the decisions I’ve made… the things I’ve said… doesn’t fill me with dread, as it used to, or fear, as it apparently should for someone living as I do.
No, it brings a strange calm, a settling, like that moment your head finally lands on the shoulder of a long awaited hug.
Because God, if He exists, knows me. He knows me from the inside out. He knows how hard I searched for Him, how desperately I wanted to really, truly understand and have a rock solid faith that would never be shaken. He saw the tears of frustration, the hours spent reading books, the sleepless nights of sickening worry, the desperate attempts to lash the life I loved ‘in church’ with the honesty and clarity I was finding ‘outside the church’.
He will know how much it broke my heart to admit to myself what my subconscious had been pointing out for over a year… that it appeared as though He, after all, didn’t exist. He’d know of the grief that tried to split every muscle in my body as I pounded the steering wheel in childish refusal. He technically was there when I yelled at the sky to give me something, anything, that would stop the slide away from belief.
He’d know that He didn’t answer. And he’d know that I hung around for a year longer anyway, just in case I’d missed it, just in case it was something I hadn’t seen, just in case there was any chance I’d been wrong. He’d know that it would have been far easier to stay in belief, with my career, friends, family, house and husband all sorted.
When the Senior Pastor of my old church called me after I ‘came out’ as a non-believer, I told him the above, the rush of saying what I really thought for the first time pounding through my heart. I told I would be quite happy to meet God because I was confident He would know what I’d been through.
He said that sometimes God doesn’t reveal Himself to us for His own reasons.
I said, ‘Then it’s because of His own reasons that I don’t believe in Him anymore.’
“You know that if you get in the water without anything to hold onto but try to behave as you would on dry land, you will drown. But if, on the other hand, you trust yourself to the water, you will float. This is exactly the situation of faith.’
(- Alan Watts)
So this is the faith that I have.
If God does exist, He knows me.
I trust myself to the Water.