In high school, I discovered a passion for mathematics. I was never thrilled with simple computation. Arithmetic bored me. However, starting with geometry I fell in love with mathematical proofs. Starting with simple truths and universal principles, I derived airtight, logical arguments about the way angles, circles and parabolas behaved. I found power, truth and even beauty in logical arguments. There was great satisfaction to reach the end of a geometric proof, “quod erat demonstrandum.”
Perhaps, the reason mathematics was attractive was because the rest of the world seemed so confusing and chaotic. There were universal principles, but the application had much to be desired. People were fickle and life didn’t carry the elegance of mathematics. So I pursued mathematics. I have a bachelor’s degree in it, and even today, I take satisfaction in wrestling with a mathematical problem to discover its secrets.
However, along the way, I discovered that there is more to life than math. Logical, abstract reasoning is powerful, but it isn’t the only way to explore the world. There is beauty in the symmetry and rationality of a well-kept garden, but there is also form and beauty in the chaotic life of the forest. Mathematics was never the problem, but it was how I applied it.
This realization opened new worlds to me. As a college student, I began to wrestle with God and with faith. For the longest time, I was resistant to God’s call. God, for me, was about proof and doubt. I brought my tools of logic and rationality and attempted to make God fit my categories. I searched for universal principles, but the abstractions that I created were a poor substitute for God. I read the Bible, but found the world there was wild and chaotic. It was much like the real world, and I certainly wasn’t satisfied with that.
There are times when you venture out into a lake. The water is cloudy and murky. You step out, and your toes don’t seem to touch the bottom. However, somehow something is holding you up. I had questions, doubts, and concerns about the faith, but somehow the faith still held me up. I discovered that God loved me, and in Jesus Christ love became real, more real than anything I ever experienced.
Pursuing faith was less like following a geometry proof. Instead, it was like following a friend. There remain times of doubt, confusion, and even anger. However, the overwhelming experience is one of comfort, confidence and love. I still struggle with the faith or the Scriptures, but now my hermeneutic is trust. We cry out like the man asking Jesus to heal his son, “I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Grace and Peace,