Spiritual Growth Moment ~ April, 2022
by David Dougherty
I envy anyone who has experienced a spiritual journey. I have not. For as long as I can remember, I have believed in God, in Jesus Christ, and in salvation by grace. I have never wandered, let alone journeyed, from that fundamental belief. To this day, I find that surprising.
As an academic I have thrived on uncertainty, questions, skepticism, imponderables like “Do we have free will?” or“Why do bad things happen to good people?” I have read the great theologians and philosophers, believers, agnostics, and atheists. I have suffered through loss, grief, pain, uncertainties, but not about God. I maintain a simple, resolute faith that has never wavered. I joke at times that I must re-read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity to remember what I believe, but it just broadens and deepens my simple faith.
A story from my childhood may illuminate my “theology.”When I was a little boy, 6-or-7 years old, about midnight on a Christmas Eve I was awakened by a “presence” in my bedroom, passing first to my brother’s bed and then to mine, filling his, then my stocking with care. Because I lay facing “him,” I knew that if I squinted my eyes open, I would see Santa Claus, who it surely was. How many little boys see Santa in action? However, I also knew that if I saw him, he would see me. After all, he knows when we're awake. This was certainly no time to provoke Santa. What to do? I didn’t flinch. Even as a child, I understood instinctively that I didn’t need to see Santa to believe in him.
Of course, my faith in God is considerably more complex and rigorous than that. But it is still relatively childlike and simple. I do not need to see God to know Him – or to believe in Him. And that simplicity – all I need to know --has strengthened and reinforced my faith to this day.