It was about eight months ago that I looked down. At the time, I couldn’t tell you why I did. Life is so contingent, a decision here, a decision there, a passing thought, a second spared. Maybe it was because I was confronted by questions I had avoided for so long. Maybe it was because I was confronted by the frailty of life. However it happened, I looked down and was chilled to the bone.
I don’t care to share the particulars of my doubt; they would be a distraction and could easily be exchanged for any other particular question that might clothe doubt. What mattered most was the looking down, feeling the weight of the abyss, feeling the weight of nothing.
You see, I had never really looked down before. When I was seventeen, I attended an apologetics conference where I heard a speaker present questions that seemed to wreck the Christian faith. It was as close as I ever came to looking down. But just as I felt myself falling, the speaker rushed in with all the answers that stopped my fall. Good reason, good evidence, formed a bridge beneath my faith. It was exhilarating; I was hooked.
I walked confidently along this bridge between that point and eight months ago. Sure, I occasionally found a board out of place, but nothing that good reason and evidence could not nail back into place. I had this all figured out. I decided to head to seminary to put on the finishing touches.
Seminary was not what I expected. I expected to get all the answers but found myself with more questions than answers; there were not enough boards to fill the gaps. Realizing this, I looked back on what I had built and found that gaps decorated the entire span of the bridge. Under my feet it creaked, it groaned, it shook; I looked down.
The bridge was collapsing.
I was falling. All the boards of good reason and evidence upon which I had built my faith flew around me. How could I be certain of anything? The gravity was crushing; it was my whole world collapsing in on me. I could not fill in all the gaps, I could not answer all the questions. It felt like the end.
It was the beginning.
In the collapse, I reached out, grabbing at anything to stop my fall. My hand only caught on the hand of Christ. While the debris of my bridge rained down around me, he held me. In the aftermath, he held me. He holds me today.
I now realize that he had intended to destroy the bridge. I had prayed so often for him to do whatever it would take to make me the pastor I ought to be, but I never imagined Jesus would take aim at my faith. The truth was that my faith had been in myself, in my ability to build bridges, in my ability to come to the most certain conclusions. Jesus needed my help; he needed a sturdy, reasonable argument to stand upon, as did my belief in him.
The past eight months have exposed this idolatry; it is not mine alone. I have sadly seen it frequently seized upon in the apologetics community. The truth is that Jesus is not interested in our bridges. I believe this is the reason why there are gaps. However encouraging evidence and arguments may be to the faith, we only move forward by trust. We only move forward by trusting in Christ.
This leaves space for all sorts of questions about the faith. We need not blindly trust in Calvinism, Arminianism, Young-Earth Creationism, or any other sort of –ism. There is theological work to be done. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, when we are left with our little human selves, in our little worlds, in our breathtakingly vaporous lives, standing before the greatest of mysteries, we can do nothing more substantial than cling to Christ alone. He is our bridge.