Ok I did want one, a Damascus Road experience, but I don’t want one now.
As a teenager each time I had a vaguely spiritual feeling or God-thought I always thought to myself “Now! Now, maybe, I will have my Damascus Road experience. I will be suddenly fixed on God, just like Paul was, and I will know for certain that he exists and that he loves me and I will love him. And it will all be simple.”
Sorry folks, but God rarely works like that.And in my experience when he has to shout really loudly as he did at Paul then something is wrong because you can’t hear him in other ways, speaking as the still, small voice in our day-to-day. (And let’s face it the murder and persecution Paul was enthusiastically engaged in was very wrong and needed a good shouting.)
More importantly faith is not like that. You don’t wake up in the morning and BELIEVE! without doubts, fears, questioning. Even if you do wake up like that and manage to pull it off for many years that point will come where you say – “I don’t know what I believe any more, I don’t even know if I believe any more.”
Even Jesus shouted out “Why have you forsaken me?”
And that’s what it feels like when you first doubt or second doubt or third doubt – you get where I’m going.
But I have good news. What I got instead of Damascus Road was a short anecdote about an old lady someone had met who said something along the lines of “Some people get their faith like a gushing river, I got mine like a dripping tap”. That dripping tap is how I have received my faith.
Slowly, over the months and years, you read something that chimes, you see something that rings true, you survive something horrendous and God is with you and your faith bucket gets filled up drip by drip. I think this might be more common than we are led to believe and it’s enormously comforting to know that it’s been this way for people before you. That not everyone is a perfect Christian reborn in an instant of earth shattering glory.
You might get Damascus Road, you might be filled with certainty and joy every moment of your life. And if you do congratulations! I admit to a small amount of unChristian envy.
But you might not. And my experience is that the dripping tap of a relentlessly pursuing God is just as effective in keeping you going in times of doubt and times of certainty as that Damascus Road is.