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Am I really a believer?

By Shaun ~

So here it is...3:40 AM.

A little over two years ago I was a pessimistic, drug abusing, alcoholic that abused my wife and children in uncontrollable rage. I locked myself in my room (separate from my wife and kid's room they shared) and wanted to be alone. I was bitter, depressed, and wouldn't have it any other way. I told my wife to take the kids and just leave.

A month later I began a relationship with an attractive woman with a daughter. Shortly thereafter, she broke my heart.

This new low was greater than any of my previous pet-depression. This really hurt. Life shouldn't be this hard on somebody. I knew I had to get better somehow. I prayed that God would lead me to do His will, and felt that I had to get my wife back and be the spiritual leader of the house. That is exactly what I did.

Part of the church, trying to figure out what I should go to college for (now 27, later than I wish I would have started) a fundamental Christian whom I admired suggested that I was called into the ministry. He drove me to a Bible college and I signed on without giving it a second thought, by faith.

It became the defining factor of my spirituality, feeding great energy into my prayer and Bible study. After all, if I was going to be a pastor some day I had better get started right at it by living a Holy and devout life, right? I bought into everything I was told, hook line and sinker. I agreed that the King James Version was the only inspired English translation of the Bible. I believed that God gave us free will to be able to choose Him, and that salvation was by grace through faith. The list goes on.

As time progressed, I noticed that the changes in me were limited. I still had rage, just not as much. I still wallowed in self-pity and flirted with depression, but only occasionally.

Then, I began learning different theological doctrines that really brought questions to mind. The doctrine of Calvinism, for example, completely baffles me as to how a good God could select some for salvation, and abandon others to hell, just as He hardened Pharaoh's heart. Questions about Genesis chapters 1-3 started to arise. What came first, plants or people? Why did God allow sin to occur if it would result in so many people dying the second death, abandoned to suffer eternal torment?

The more I think about it, the more it stings. I want there to be a God. I want to believe in God. I want to continue to feel the love and joy that I felt for such a short time. I want the "blessed assurance" of salvation, and the eternal life promised. 1 John knocked me down, though.

1 John 5:18 - We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

If this is true, then this means that I should stop sinning, right? I've checked the commentaries and the theologians say that this is in reference to repetitive sinning. But perhaps the greatest defining element of fundamental Christianity is literal interpretation of Scripture. If so, why do we have to dance around tough issues like this? I sinned just a little while ago looking at something I shouldn't have. I am sinning now by losing faith in God and doubting His existence. It doesn't sit well with me either: I rage against it inside, hating the thought of letting go of God.

I can't stand this struggle anymore. I've got to get this settled once and for all. I can't pretend to believe in a God that I preach about.

Please help me to understand what's going on. What can I attribute all of the change that did occur in me after I became a (so-called) believer? What explanation can there by for the joy and love of God that I felt? What hope is there without God? My tears are real, and if God is real too, He'd better speak to me loud and clear really, really soon.