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Doubting in a tree

My favorite climbing tree grew alongside the old Alpena train depot. That fascinating building, with its lush lawn and tightly grown hedge, stood just a block from my childhood home. Grabbing the lowest branch and pressing my feet against the well-worn trunk, I would inch my way into my special hiding place.

The oldest of seven, quiet times were rare for me. In that secluded refuge, neighborhood sounds and the outside world seemed to fade away. I did my thinking there, attempting to sort life out. On that limb, I shed tears and released frustrations while envying the bird’s freedom, wondering what it would be like to take flight and leave my cares behind. The stately maple tree had no answers for me, but I usually felt better by the time I lowered myself to the ground.

It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the truth of God’s existence. Now a young woman, I was drifting, still searching for answers and the meaning of life. Much like today, our nation was in a time of social upheaval and political unrest. Everything I had thought solid and secure was being shaken to the core. One day, I told a coworker: “I don’t believe there is a God.” I didn’t realize it then, but I was desperately looking for Him. My statement was actually a cry for help, a yearning for someone to show me the way to God. I was on a quest. My spirit was longing to find rest.

I have come to realize that truth is not rooted in the things that society chooses to label as truth. What originates from human reasoning is subjective and fallible, continually shifting and changing based on current opinions and people’s feelings. Real truth — eternal, fixed, and immovable truth — is found only in God. Jesus explained that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

The National Enquirer’s famous ad slogan from the 1980s, “Enquiring minds want to know,” quickly passed the tipping point to become an oft-used cliche from a questionable publication. The cliche is applicable here, however. Inquiring minds do want to know, for our mind is a gift from God, designed to be used and not turned off. Our questions, doubts, and uncertainties are meant to lead us to and not away from Him.

The great all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present God can handle our seeking of answers. We were created to yearn to know His nature and character and His plans and purposes — to long for Him. God designed us to come to know Him through Jesus Christ and to discover, truth by truth, who He is and who we are meant to be.

I finally found Father God. In reality, He pursued and drew me. Toward the end of my 23rd year, I discovered that He had been there all the time, patiently waiting for me to recognize and receive His love and great gift of salvation.

My tree-climbing days are long gone. Now, I quiet my soul in the Lord, asking Him for wisdom and guidance with my everyday life. I have learned to take refuge in Him, “for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

I still face challenges, but I am no longer adrift, for where the Prince of Peace comes, He brings His peace (Isaiah 9:6). His peace is not based on outward circumstances or an artificial stuffing of emotions, but is an inner calm that flows from the unshakable assurance of His guiding presence and care — an anchor for the soul.