Imagine this: you are hiking up a long, winding trail on a beautiful mountainside. The flowers are wafting their early summer scents through the warm air. The hummingbirds are darting to and fro, seemingly effortless in their flight. The path is not smooth, but the rocks do not hinder your progress. Occasionally, a tree limb or root cause a short detour. But always, always the path is there, winding its way to the peak.
Suddenly, as you place one sure foot in front of the other, there is a drop off--sheer rock below you for hundreds of feet. A loose pebble finds its way down into the apparently bottomless span before you. One foot slips, and down you tumble.
Scary thought, isn't it? It makes my heart pound just to ponder it!
Our faith journey can be similar to this. We find small detours, yet always wind our way back to the truth. We traverse the course before us, this odyssey we call "life," and push forward. Sometimes a dark shadow falls across our way. Sometimes we face torrential rainstorms that prevent any evident progress. Yet we press on and on, ever upward.
But what about that precipice? What happens when everything we have believed to be true suddenly gives way, and we begin a downward spiral?
In other words, what happens if we lose our way? Our faith?
Some from the "once saved, always saved" persuasion might say you were never really on the path. You only thought you were heading up the right trail.
Some would say the yawning canyon is only a diversion. You will return to the right route after passing through the dark valley.
Some would say you have finally found Truth.
I have recently learned that, while there are a large number of individuals returning to belief in God, there are also thousands turning away from that track. They are signing themselves onto the "maybe there's a God, but maybe not, so I'm probably an atheist" corps. They see this as an alternate course, but one that is more realistic and less in the Neverland world of religion.
I am no theologian. I am definitely not a philosopher. I am a sojourner.
I will not pretend to have the answers to all their questions, but I would be willing to point them to those who have far more knowledge and understanding--the Trail Masters who have studied and know the terrain far better than I ever will. (These are the great theologians, apologists, authors, and philosophers: many, many saints; Dr. Scott Hahn; Fr. Robert Barron; Patrick Madrid; George Weigel; and Peter Kreeft, just to name a few!)
If you feel like your feet are slipping, don't hit the bottom of the chasm before you reach out to the hands of those who have traveled this way before (Antony Flew left his long-held atheistic beliefs to believe in God; C.S. Lewis, a great thinker and self-proclaimed atheist became a very strong believer in God; Josh McDowell...there are many others).
For the Truth is not in that long, rock-filled crevasse, but along the rock-strewn path before it.