In which doubt is the handmaiden of truth

by Craig on September 7, 2011

Faith-doubts-doubts-and-believes-beliefssource

I doubted my faith…
and believed my doubts.

But have learned…

that faith…

doubts…

doubts

and believes…

beliefs.

I tiptoed into the dimly lit room…

and noticed, next to an overhead projector…

on a stand…

an old dusty book…

For-doubt-is-the-handmaiden-of-truthsource

It was a Jewish book of meditations and prayers. Picking up the book, and feeling close to something important, I headed toward the front of the room — to where the Torah stood encased in gold.

I sat down in the front row and prayed to the Father…
letting Him know I was interested in His thoughts.

I had one thing on my mind … doubt.

I felt that what I was about to read was important enough to record as I read.
So although I can’t say which meditation this was…
or which book of Jewish meditations it came from…
I can say that the words are quoted verbatim.

I opened the book, and the first thing I read was:

“For doubt is the handmaiden of truth.”

For-doubt-is-the-handmaiden-of-truthsource

It continued:

Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery.
A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error,
for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief.
Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid, which eats away the false.
Let none fear the truth, that doubt may consume it, for doubt is a testing of belief.
For truth, if it be truth, arises from each testing stronger, more secure.
Those who would silence doubt are filled with fear;
the house of their spirit is built on shifting sands.
But they that fear not doubt and know its use are founded on a rock.
They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge; the work of their hands shall endure.
Therefore, let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help.
It is to the wise as a staff to the blind.
Doubt is the handmaiden of truth.

For-doubt-is-the-handmaiden-of-truthsource

It wasn’t the day all my doubts were answered. It was just the day that I knew it was okay to doubt.

It took another 20 years to address every doubt…
for there were legions of them.

The truth be told, one of the reasons I never became a pastor, was that I doubted the existence of God well after graduating Seminary. And although it’s fine for someone to have honest doubt, I didn’t feel it was right to stand in the pulpit – doubting.

I no longer doubt the existence of God…

and once that monster falls in line…

the other monsters quiet down.

And today I find…

that my faith is as strong as it is…

because my doubt was as strong as it was.

 

and if you hearted this at all,
or if you think others might find it useful,
would you consider sharing it in one of the ways below?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn September 7, 2011 at 9:44 am

Dear Craig,

All.I.can.say.is…

please.read.over.at.dschondog.

You.will.see.why.once.there.

On Holy Ground here,
Dawn

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Craig September 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

Dawn, my mind is a mixed up jumble – there was really no discernible sleep overnight – second night in a row. But before I crash – which is just about to happen – I’m. heading. over. ツ

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Christina September 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

“Those who would silence doubt are filled with fear; the house of their spirit is built on shifting sands. But they that fear not doubt and know its use are founded on a rock.” So much freedom in that. Doubt leads us to more grace. Thanks for sharing!

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Craig September 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Christina, I was shocked to find that imagery – the house on shifting sands – in a Jewish prayer book. Apparently the saying it’s a pretty good metaphor. ツ God bless you!

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Cora September 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

Dawn beat me here today, only because I lingered at HER post today. Thank you, Dawn, and thank you Craig!!!!!!

Today is a “red circle day” for me. A first. An important milestone. A day something is acknowledged, confirmed, verified —- and from TWO! I have lived all my life with this “secret.” The secret of doubting, searching, struggling . . . and winning. In the very early years, I would ask the questions, but I never received the answers. I was told I was a doubter, that I needed more faith, somethings had no answers, etc., etc. It got to the place where I no longer voiced ANY questions, and my search became a private, quiet quest. But the doubts caused doubts. And I remember the day it all came to a head when someone asked me, “Where are you in your Christian walk?” Even today, when I think of that question, I can’t readily answer, except to say, “In compared to who or what?” Back then, I thought I was behind the starting line because I had questions and I didn’t like the canned answers. They didn’t work on me, and I couldn’t pass them on. And for me, a question isn’t answered adequately until I can eagerly give it to another asking the same question!

I will proudly admit here that I have learned the art of doubting. Doubting has taken me deeper and planted my feet on solid rocks way way more than all that was brain washed into me in my childhood years. One day, when I was about 7 years old, my Mom got VERY irritated with the mess I had made on the back porch with toys, crayons, blocks, coloring books, etc. In her anger, she threw EVERYTHING outside into the backyard. My job was to bring in what I wanted to keep and find a suitable place to stack it. I’ve had to do that with just about every facet of my faith. Just take the stack, throw it to the wind, and then retrieve it back as my very own with reality, personal ownership, and a safe place to put it all.

Craig, you are the first (along with Dawn) who has laid it out there like this. I thought I was the only one who struggled to find my sure footing in the sand. Wow!!!!!!

I’m praying you get some sleep today.

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Craig September 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Cora, thank you for the prayer, it is what it is, and about this post – YOU are why I wrote it, it’s a post in reply to YOUR comments my friend ツ thank you for sharing all that – I read every. single. word. God bless you!

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Andrea Dawn September 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

The Jewish meditation in it’s entirety is an absolute treasure. I will be recording it in my journal. To find a favourite line is next to impossible . . . it is all so moving, inspiring. I personally have not struggled with doubt about God’s being or His attributes, but I like that this gives me permission, even encourages to ask questions and implies that the questioning will lead to stronger held beliefs and deeper knowledge.

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Craig September 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

you are so absolutely right Andrea Dawn – and maybe it was just chance that I had a recorder with me – and maybe it was just chance that I decided to record it all – and maybe it was just chance that I happened to be in a Jewish Museum that day – and maybe just chance that I walked through doors that said synagogue – and maybe just chance that that book was there – and maybe just chance that the very first thing I read was this meditation.

Or not. ツ

God bless you Andrea Dawn.

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Cora September 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Craig, do you remember the name to this book???? I WANT ONE! I found Gates of Prayer: Shaarei Tefila: The New Union Prayerbook for Weekdays, Sabbaths and Festivals on Amazon.com. Is this the book, and is it in English??????

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Craig September 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Cora, sorry so late in responding – I have no idea what the name of the prayer book was – or even if it really was a prayer book – I didn’t write the title down – or record it anywhere – it was just a magical moment – there are other quotes in the book that I also recorded – but that one was the first – and best. God bless!

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shannon September 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

i’m w/ Cora…sounds like a good book!
i’d never heard doubt put that way before, but it makes more sense than doubting for doubtings sake. it gives it a purpose i guess.

thanks!

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Craig September 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

first, Shannon, I’m sorry I’m late in responding – (bad blogger!!!!!) (pointing accusing finger at myself) ツ and sometime up ahead – I know there’s a post in me about the difference between doubts – and how honest doubt is good – and chronic doubt – not so much. Thank you Shannon, thank you, and God bless you!

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Kris September 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I have not struggled so much with doubt as I have fear. But I totally get this, and am thrilled at where you are now, How God inspires you to share the message, HIS message with others who perhaps are stumbling down familiar paths… Craig, you always bless me with your insights! And now I’m itching for my own copy of this wonderful book of Jewish Meditations…..

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Craig September 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Kris, fear I think is a not to distant relative of doubt. I look back and can’t believe how patient HE was – waiting almost 20 years for me to answer all my doubts – believing even while I was disbelieving. God. Is. Nice! And about the Jewish prayer book – I’m afraid it’s now lost to the ages…

God bless you Kris!

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Debbie September 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thank you so much for recording, for sharing, for helping us to see doubting in the right light . . not something to be feared or ashamed of. Just a way to believe more.
God bless you and your faith that is stayed on Him. Praying for you to be restored and renewed in Him for each day, for each moment that you have need of it.

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Craig September 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Debbie, first – sorry I’m late responding to your comment – it seems the hurrieder I go the behinder I get. Anyway, sorry. And as I said to Shannon in the comment above yours – there is a post coming some time – on the two doubts – chronic doubt being bad – honest doubt being good. Thank you for your prayers Debbie. Really, thank you, and God bless you as always.

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Beth Werner Lee September 9, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hi Craig, have you caught up on sleep? I have, just about, but that’s why I’m reading a day late today. I heart the faith doubt doubts and believes beliefs. More a fearer than a doubter, but I can see how they’re close relations. Very nice art too, to go with the meditation. Blessings.
What seminary, by the way?

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Craig September 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Beth, first of all thank you for asking – but the fact is I never catch up on sleep – regular sleep is kind of just a memory. But thank you. I can also see – like you – the relationship between the fear and doubt. As I said in one of the other comments to Kris – I think that fear is a distant cousin of doubt – and maybe not that distant

…and the pictures? I heart, heart, heart, big fluffy puffy heart pictures in posts – I spend probably way too much time searching for the perfect pictures to go with the words – but thank you very much for noticing, and telling me the choices were good. ((((Smiling))))

Oh, and I graduated from covenant seminary in St. Louis Missouri – it’s the national seminary for the Presbyterian Church of America – I’m not a Presbyterian though. Just your basic run-of-the-mill Christian ツ God bless you Beth!!

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A. September 9, 2011 at 10:20 am

Craig, thank you for sharing the entire meditation! it is quite stunning in its truth and the freedom that results is so empowering!!1 Like Andrea Dawn, i will be writing this one down! You find the coolest things to share here!

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Craig September 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm

A., For someone struggling with doubt – painfully struggling with doubt – it was just the perfect meditation to read – I hearted every. single. word. And there were others in the book too – it was a really sweet time of reading, and talking with God. Anyway, thank you A. And God bless you!

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Joy @ Joy in. this Journey September 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thank you.
Thank you thank you thank you.

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Craig September 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

from what I know of you, joy, after all this time reading you, if I knew that you were going to be here today reading this – I’d have guessed that you would like it. I think that you and I both share the heart of Thomas – the heart of the seeker – the heart that wants to know the truth – the heart that wants to see God – but the heart that doesn’t stand for pat answers and trite sayings. You have a stunningly awesome heart Joy.

And I heart – big puffy heart – that you approved of what I wrote ツ Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

Oh, and I didn’t want to proclaim this all public and everything on Twitter – but your new twitter avi – it looks like a a portrait of a Greek goddess – just sayin.

and God bless you Joy!!

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Susan@ThoughtfulSpot September 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Always lovely thoughts and such simple eloquence when I visit here. The sudden questioning of faith from an 80 year long professing faith has been chewing at my heart . . . these are issues, I wanted to admonish, that you should have settled long ago, not now with so few years left. Then I read the line, “Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid, which eats away the false” and I know in my heart of hearts, this questioning of an octogenarian is another grace gift, an acid eating away what is false. . . decades of bigotry and self-righteousness and sitting passively under weak and undermining teaching. May he come through! May we all come through!

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Craig September 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Susan, thank you – and a simple and eloquent thought that was told to me by someone when I was struggling so much with doubt – honest doubt is good – chronic doubt is not. There does seem to be a difference. And 80? Just a baby in the eyes of eternity. Just a baby. God bless and keep you Susan! And thank you.

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Layla Payton September 12, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Craig…just…

…wow.

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Craig September 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm

thank you Layla, for waiting more than a week for this reply. Some “wows” are nice – and some are full of awesome – yours was full of awesome – lots of awesome. Thank you! God bless!

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