16 years ago, I wrote this in my journal:
Sometimes I wish God spoke to me more. There have been times when a certain verse really moved me or I was very excited when I prayed. Then again, what is it I want? A feeling, or a Word from God? And if I want some special message from God, why? You know, I’m confusing myself. I’m just gonna love God. I know He’s with me and I know I can make Him happy by just serving and loving Him. That’s what matters. Not me. “God, thank you for teaching me such wonderful truths! I’m sorry I get so selfish.
My day in the Lord was good. I started off just rejoicing and praising God for His goodness. Then I took a walk, talked with Him, and remembered some scripture verses I’m trying to memorize. One is the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). I’m gonna stick with it this time. After that I came in, ate, then I read some of the Word. Unfortunately I started getting very sleepy at this point. Maybe the food did it. After that I had trouble concentrating while I prayed. You know, from now on I’m not gonna eat until I’m done with all my praying, praising, and bible reading. Pastor Paul said, “no food for my body until I’ve had food for my soul.” Well, time to help with dinner. Mom will be here soon.
— September 10th, 1999
Dear Former Self,
There’s a reason God isn’t speaking to you more: He isn’t there! Haven’t you ever wondered why your god has left you feeling so lonely and confused? It seems to me that a loving god wouldn’t leave one of his most dedicated followers in the dark and feeling guilty for no reason. A loving god would at least provide some sort of sign–an audible voice, rays of light spelling out a message on the wall, the Bible magically opening itself to a relevant passage, something. But with the Christian god, things like that never happen.
I know what you would say: God won’t remove the need for faith. Because apparently it’s better to believe in God without good reasons than to believe in him with good reasons. I’ve never heard anyone explain why faith is a good thing without quickly descending into incoherence. But even if it were true that faith is better than certainty, you would still need some faith after a miracle. You could convince yourself it was an hallucination, an elaborate prank, or some other kind of magic.
The point is, you would still need at least a little faith that God was responsible for the miracle, but seeing it would make believing in God a hell of a lot easier. Why does your god want faith to be difficult? Why heighten the chance that you will lose your faith altogether? It’s almost like a game to him, as if he said to himself, “I’ll make faith hard and see how many people manage to keep believing in me.”
Besides, if miracles remove the need for faith, then why did Jesus’ disciples get to see miracles all the time? Again, one could argue that they still needed a little bit of faith, but certainly not as much as someone living in the mundane, non-miraculous present. Just look at Paul and his supposed experience on the Damascus road. Wouldn’t Christianity receive more attention and interest if its followers regularly witnessed miracles like that? That’s what God did to get the religion started, right? So why not continue that tactic into the present day?
We’ve been over this before, but there’s a simple answer to all these questions: Christianity isn’t true. Once you realize that, everything will be clear. Your biggest flaw is that you simply don’t ask enough questions. However, you’re already asking more questions than the average Christian, which means you’re well on your way to becoming a godless heathen. The road ahead is sad and disappointing, but it will get better eventually.
— Matt, 2016
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.