[AUDIO PODCAST] Amid Waves of Doubt, God Brings Peace: Erwin McManus & Dominic Done


Wrestling with Questions, Finding Peace from
God: Erwin McManus & Dominic Done Erwin McManus: My goal is to help people have
inner peace in the middle of the conflict, to have inner peace in the middle of the chaos,
to have the kind of peace where they measure their life by how many others they helped
find peace in the world. Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we talk with two pastors who ask deep
questions of God, but in the midst of their struggles, they’re able to feel peace: Erwin
McManus and Dominic Done. First up, Erwin McManus is an artist and writer
who works to integrate creativity and spirituality. He is the founder and Lead Pastor of Mosaic,
a Los Angeles-based church recognized as one of America’s most influential and innovative
churches. Today Erwin walks us through humanity’s
lifelong struggle to find peace, why God is instrumental in helping us win that battle,
and how we can keep a grip on the hope that fuels us towards the places where God designed
us to go. Erwin McManus: My name is Erwin McManus. I’m the founder of Mosaic, and I just recently
wrote a book called The Way of the Warrior. The Way of the Warrior came from kind of an
unusual moment. My wife and I were traveling through Hollywood,
driving down Vine, and I was thinking and daydreaming and had a moment of quietness
while I was driving. I just heard this inner voice say, “The warrior
is not ready for battle until they’ve come to know peace. This is the way of the warrior.” And I looked over at my wife and said, “I
know what my next book is. I know what it’s called, and I know it was
the first line is.” I didn’t know anything else after that. But it was this idea that the warrior is not
ready for battle until they’ve come to know peace, that every human being is in a battle—the
greatest battle in the world is for inner peace. And I started processing how humans are incredible
as a species. I mean, we’ve harnessed fire and light. We’ve harnessed nuclear power and solar power. We invented the Internet, the telephone, and
the television. But as evolved as we are, we can’t seem to
create peace. Peace seems to constantly elude us. What drove this book for me is that we’ll
never know world peace until we have inner peace, that the reason the world is at war
is [because] we are at war. The reason there are wars that rage all around
us is that there are wars that rage within us.[a] And I felt like there wasn’t a definitive
conversation about how to bring inner peace. But we, in many ways, hold onto a magical
view of faith. If we believe the right things, if we say
the right things, if we hope the right things, then it’s supposed to happen. Then we actually end up replacing a truly
deep spiritual journey with magic and superstition. And that’s why it leaves us so desperate,
because if you quote these verses, you’re supposed to get better, or if you memorize
this truth, it is supposed to change you. And that’s why I use the metaphor of a warrior. The battle for peace is exactly that: it’s
a struggle, it’s a battle, it’s a daily engagement for peace within your soul. I wanted people to understand when you’re
fighting for inner peace, you’re actually taking on a heroic journey. This is a warrior’s battle, and it will not
come easily, and it will not come without a struggle, and it will not come without a
fight. So, I chose this language, even though I know
there is a sense of conflict in [it]. But I want people to know that if you have
the sense that you’re supposed to go to war against something, you need to make sure you
go to war for the right things. Even Jesus said there will always be wars
and rumors of wars. How did He know that? It’s because He knew the human heart, He knew
there was a war that raged inside of us. My friends who are atheists, agnostics, or
Buddhists, or [even if] they just don’t know there’s a God, they look at all the suffering
in the world and all the violence in the world and say, “How can there be a God? Look at the human condition.” My response is, “Actually, no. This is how we know there’s more, because
of the human condition. The fact that we can’t seem to get along as
a species tells us something broken inside of us. Something is out of alignment.” It is interesting how we create scenarios
for ourselves in which we lose hope. One of the unique things about hope—and
I write about this in the book—is that for hope to exist, it has to be in the future. When our hope is placed in the past, it turns
into regret.[c] The strange thing about hope is that you can hope for something, and once
you have it, it is no longer a source of hope. Humans are designed to be connected to the
future. The reason we lose hope is we lose our confidence
in a better future, that we can create a different future. And it’s odd, if you think about it, that
we humans need hope. I mean, when you look at the human experience
you [think], Okay, every human needs to drink water. Every human being needs to breathe oxygen. Every human being needs to eat to survive. So we know we all need to eat, drink, and
breathe. That makes perfect sense because of our physicality,
our physiology. But how odd it is that humans have to have
hope? [Without it], we actually begin to die. Our souls begin to die. Isn’t it odd that we all want peace, but we’ve
never known peace? How is it that we can imagine world peace
when we’ve never experienced it? How is it that people fight so that every
child will have food when we’ve never known a world without poverty? How is it that we can imagine a world where
everyone has justice when all we’ve known is a history of injustice? Human ideals are actually rooted in something
that is outside of reality. We have never it known as a species. It’s the soul telling us what humanity is
supposed to be like, what life is supposed to be like. And it’s our soul’s reminder to us that
were created for more. Jesus is, clearly, the singular personality
that defines peace in all of human history. To me, it is pretty extraordinary that two
thousand years ago, in the middle of conflict and a Roman oppression over the Jews, in the
middle of a world of chaos, violence, and dying the most violent death, Jesus becomes
the icon of peace, which should tell us something. And I hope, as people are searching for peace,
that they’ll crash into Jesus. I’m convinced the reason we’re created in
the image of God is that we’re imagined by God to create.[d] I never accept reality as
a permanent condition. Reality is just a temporary state of being,
we can redefine reality and recreate it. There was a time where submarines were not
reality, airplanes were not reality, flying in space was not a reality. There was a time when breaking the four-minute
mile was not a reality. So many things that we thought were impossible
are now normal. People who accept reality have actually conceded
their future. I mean, I live in L.A. so it’s the epicenter
of dreamers. In fact, one of the metaphors [of] L.A. is
the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, because so many people come to L.A. with huge dreams,
and then ten thousand people come with the same talent, the same passion, the same training,
and the same skill set, and they’re all fighting for the same dream. And even if they’re all equally talented,
[only] one of them is going to get that job. One of them is going to step into that particular
moment and it can be devastating. You would think people who have such huge
dreams could recover easily from a broken dream, but it’s not true. Most of them, when they do not achieve their
dream, end up paralyzed and float through life. It’s one of the reasons that I think conversations
like The Way of the Warrior are so important, [because] anyone who ever aspires to do anything
meaningful is going to have the loss of a dream. One huge challenge is to not put your identity
in the dream, because if your value as a human being is based on the dream you’re pursuing,
then your value is really fragile.[e] I’ve had so many dreams in my life, and I’ve
aspired to so many different things, and I’ve endeavored to do so many different things
in different careers. And I had a lot of successes, and I’ve had
an endless number of failures. I just think that when you have a broken dream,
what you have to do is step back and realize that the loss of a dream isn’t the loss of
your intention. It should not be the loss of your destiny,
or your calling, or your future. One of the ways you can know you’re pursuing
the [wrong] dream is if you love the outcome, but not the process—it’s the wrong dream. If you love the process and the outcome is
an extra, then you’re in the right dream. And that’s why when you lose a dream, you
were probably in the wrong dream. Because when you love the process, you never
actually lose it. The process is a reward in itself, and that’s
the beauty of it. The best basketball players in the world don’t
just play for the championships, they love basketball. They just eat, sleep, and dream it, twenty-four
hours a day. They wake up [and] no one has to make them
practice. There are some professional players who have
to be forced to put the best of themselves [forward]. And that’s why there’s a huge divide between
the best basketball players and the ones who achieve a level of greatness. The ones who achieve a level of greatness
really don’t need to be coached, they don’t need to be managed, they don’t need to be
prodded. They’re driven by their own ambition and their
own determination. What I would say is, “Look, when you lose
a dream, see it as a part of a process to get you where you need to be, to get to the
next part of the dream.” Narrator: Erwin’s book The Way of the Warrior
is available from your favorite book retailer. Stay tuned for our chat with pastor Dominic
Done after a brief message about the Jesus
Calling Weekly
Prayer Call! Narrator: Dominic Done is filled with questions
about God. But today, those questions don’t fill him
with doubt like they once did—in fact, Dominic has discovered those questions have led him
into a deeper relationship with God. Today Dominic tells us about his journey through
faith and shows us many places in the Bible where others like us asked questions thousands
of years ago—and yet Jesus left space for them to do so. Dominic also walks us through practical ways
we can address our own doubt and why we can hold a strong faith and deep questions in
both hands, which he’s written about in his new book When Faith Fails. Dominic Done: My name is Dominic Done, and
I was born in England, although you’d never guess it based on my accent. I was raised in Southern California, spent
a ton of years traveling, teaching in different countries, and now I’m a pastor at a church
in Portland, Oregon. It’s called West Side Jesus Church. So last week, Gallup poll put out this study
and they found that church attendance in America is actually at an all-time low. And then, according to another survey—this
was Pew—the number of Americans who are experiencing doubts about God has actually
increased fifteen percent in the last ten years, and that two-thirds of people who identify
as Christian admit to struggling with doubt. I think we find ourselves in a time when people
are hungry and thirsty for a more authentic form of faith. We’re also confronted with questions, doubts,
and uncertainties. The author James K.A. Smith said, “We don’t
believe instead of doubting—we believe while doubting. We are all Thomas now.” And I think that’s true of this time in which
we live, many of us can identify and relate to a guy like Doubting Thomas. We want a deeper form of faith, but we also
don’t know what to do with our struggles and our questions. [f] And sadly, in Christian subculture, there
isn’t much room for doubts. I grew up in this context, thinking, I’ve
got these questions. I have these uncertainties. I don’t know what to do with them, because
what I’m told every week is you just gotta have faith, you’ve just got to have faith. And you really suppress your doubts, you push
down the questions with more songs, sermons, and affirmations of faith. Part of the reason why I called my book When
Faith Fails is because I went through a time when I thought my faith was failing, and almost
walked away from the faith, actually. That was really hard, and a big factor was
the silence of God. I didn’t know what to do with these doubts,
uncertainties, and questions, and I wasn’t finding those quick answers that I wanted. I think rather than suppressing our doubts,
we need to honestly engage with them. I would argue that doubt leads to questions. If you begin to unpack the word “doubt,”
it comes from this Latin word dubatare, which means “two.” So when you’re doubting, you’re literally
in two different minds. Think of what the book of James says, “The
person who doubts is like the person who’s going to toss back and forth on the waves
of the sea.” And I think that’s more descriptive, rather
than a judgmental comment about those who doubt. You’re in this place of being thrown back
and forth, you’re in two minds, you’re torn between two perspectives. And that’s where questions are born, because
you’re wondering Which one is true? Which way should I go? I think it takes wisdom to learn how to live
in the tension of an unresolved faith. [g]And that’s the key, isn’t it? Because our faith is unresolved, we see “through
a glass dimly,” Paul said. So, questions are part of the package. In fact, I would actually argue that God designed
[us] in such a way that questions are born and that questions can lead us into a deeper,
richer, more meaningful relationship with God. [h] For example, my relationship with my wife:
I love my wife. I know a lot about my wife. She she loves to paint. She loves to cook. She likes sweet potatoes, which I don’t understand. She used to be a cat person, and then we got
a dog and she repented. There’s a lot I know about her from years
of being married to her, and that’s great. There’s also a lot I don’t know. There are times that she’ll surprise me. She’ll respond to something in a way like,
“Oh, I didn’t see that coming.” Or she will share something with me about
her past or something she went through, and even though we’ve been married for all these
years, I’m still surprised and say, “Oh wow, that’s amazing. I didn’t know that, I didn’t see that.” I would argue that the mystery in a relationship
is actually what makes a relationship beautiful. [i]So, if I literally knew everything about
my wife, if I knew every placement of every atom, if I knew every word she was going to
say before she said it, if I knew where she was at any given moment, not only would that
be slightly creepy, I think it would hinder the progression of love, because true love
is the pursuit of love. Mystery is the lifeblood of intimacy. And what if God created the world the same
way? There are mysteries, uncertainties, doubts,
and questions. God allows that, while at the same time making
us deeply curious and inquisitive. What if that is God’s invitation to us saying,
“Hey, I’ve got more for you. I want you to wrestle with this. I want to reveal myself to you”? I think [of] Jacob in the Old Testament, in
the act of wrestling with God. Through our doubts, we don’t necessarily come
away with all the answers, but we can walk away with a changed name. And we can walk away having encountered God
in ways that maybe we haven’t before. I think one thing that I’ve seen in Christian
subculture is that we get so obsessed with wanting all the answers. But it’s not about having every single answer. It’s about the wrestle. It’s about the struggle. It’s about intimacy with God. [j] I think of C.S. Lewis, who went through his
own aching, raw seasons of doubt when he wrote A Grief Observed after his wife died. Coming out of that time, he said, “God, you’re
the great iconoclast. My view of you is being shattered.” It was a version of deconstruction, but he
would say in another book, “Now I know why you give no answer, because you yourself are
the answer.” In other words, it’s less about trying to
come up with scripted answers, bullet points, certainty. It’s about depth in a relationship that can
only come through those times of wrestling with Him. So, for many people, their theology of doubt
begins in Genesis 3. But what I say is, “No, let’s back up a little
bit. What if our theology of doubt and questions
should begin in Genesis 1?” And what I mean by that is Genesis 3’s where
most people most people view doubt. Adam and Eve in a garden, they’re tempted,
and the serpent uses questions as a way to derail their relationship with God and bring
sin into the world. And that’s true, Satan did use doubt in a
very destructive way. Doubt can be destructive, if it’s not dealt
with and reacted to in a healthy way. For so many people, that’s where their theology
of doubt begins. They think, Okay look, doubt is always of
the devil. Questions are always bad. So let’s just suppress them and let’s just
pretend everything is okay. But I argue we should go back to Genesis 1,
because what we see there is an infinite God who creates a finite world. We see a God who has endless power, resources,
and knowledge. And yet, He creates. And just by the act of creating, He’s going
to create something lesser than Himself. He’s not duplicating Himself. He’s making something less than Himself, which
means just by definition, the world in which we live is going to have boundaries and limitations. We’re going to have boundaries and limitations. He placed the first humans in a garden which
had boundaries and limitations. They had limitations on their time, limitations
in their knowledge. There’s a lot of uncertainty—even the animals
needed to be named. And at the same time, in a world of boundaries
and limitations and unresolved mystery, He creates male and female deeply curious, deeply
inquisitive. And there were things they wanted to discover. I think if we start there, in Genesis 1, it
reshapes how we view doubt. It reshapes our theology of questions, because
then we realize God made the world in which doubt and questions could exist, and actually,
they can be the very catalyst that pushes us closer to Him. So many of the authors of scripture had doubts. John the Baptist, I was just reading his story
recently. Jesus said he was the greatest prophet who
ever lived. That’s no small compliment. And yet, there is a time in his life when
he’s in prison and he sends a message to Jesus, saying, “Are you the one, or should we look
for another?” I mean, talk about doubt. “Are you the Messiah? I don’t know. I’ve got questions.” Jesus didn’t rebuke him for his less than
perfect faith—He gave him room to ask that question. And then Jesus says “This guy is the greatest
of all the prophets.” That’s so beautiful and amazing to me. I think that some of the most raw and passionate
expressions of doubt ever written are in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken
me? Or, “How long, oh Lord,” or, “Why do the nations
rage?” These deep, and even unsettling, questions
are found in Psalms. Here’s what I love: it’s not just the content
of the words, but that God gave space for it. God didn’t edit out the doubt-filled tomes. He didn’t say, “You know what? Forget Psalm 22. That’s not going to be in the Word.” He allowed it space, which I think is God’s
way of saying, “Look, there is room to be honest. In fact, I want you to be honest. And in those times where you’re hurting, questioning,
asking, Why? you’re going through some tragedy or crisis, or it seems like God is silent,
I want you to bring those things to Me. I want you to know that I care for you. I want you to know that I’m standing with
you and beside you. Just tell me what it is you’re experiencing. Come to Me when you’re weary and heavy laden,
and I will find you rest.” The Bible is jam-packed with stories and examples
of characters like that, women and men who had doubts and uncertainties. And Jesus, He gave them space. In Matthew 28, the Great Commission, He sends
them out into the world and you have this amazing line that says “Some worshiped,
and some doubted.” And if I were Jesus, I would divide the worshipers
from the doubters. I’d go, “Okay, worshipers, you’re part of
this thing. You doubters go home.” But He doesn’t. He sends out both the worshipers and the doubters. They were vital to the revolution that Jesus
began that literally turned the world upside down. So I would say you’re not alone. And not only that, you’re actually right where
you need to be, because God is going to use this season in your life to grow your faith. Don’t give up on your faith. Don’t give up pursuing truth. Don’t give up seeking and searching for the
answers and for God. He will meet you on the other side. In the process of learning, many times we
discover that we didn’t know that we didn’t see. I can’t say how many questions I’ve had about
scripture that were so confusing to me, and once I actually began to look into what it
meant, I was like, Oh, that wasn’t as weird as I thought. For example, the Book of Ruth: one night she
comes and lays at Boaz’s feet. I’m like, What is that about? It just seems like the weirdest thing. But in that culture, it’s a form of marriage
proposal. And once you begin to peel back similar layers,
it makes sense. And so that process of learning, don’t settle
for the low hanging fruit or for clichés, but actually say, “I want to go all in,
and I want to tear into the story, and I actually want to read both sides.” That’s what I did, actually. There was a time in my life when I had a lot
of questions. I had read some of these atheists and what
they were saying about God. And the further I went down that path, the
more I realized, Oh, this is actually a worldview that’s pretty empty. But Nietzsche once said, “If you stare into
the abyss, the abyss is going to stare back into you,” and he’s speaking about this
worldview of nihilism and atheism and the emptiness of it, the aching loneliness of
it. I took a season—a couple-year period actually—and
went down this path and looked at what this worldview has to say, and I got to a point
and realized, Oh, okay, I’ve read a ton of these books now, and I’ve studied their worldview,
and it’s empty. That process of learning and reading books
on both sides, in a weird sort of way, strengthened my faith, because I’m able to counterbalance
that with the story of C.S. Lewis and others who have gone through similar times. And I think Okay, there are some answers here. Thinkers like N.T. Wright offer really intellectual,
robust answers to some of the questions that we have. Alexander Pope said that “A little learning
is a dangerous thing.” But when we dig deep and study both sides,
I think that’s where wisdom is found. One practical way that we can move through
our doubts is through study, through listening to a good podcast or reading Jesus Calling
or tearing into a good commentary or sitting down with a teacher or a professor or pastors,
one who is further on in their spiritual walk. I think everyone’s heard about Jesus Calling,
and it has impacted so many lives, including my own. I just find it deeply refreshing. I pastor this church in Portland, and there
are so many people who have been shaped and inspired through its words as well, because
it helps you slow down. It helps you be in the moment and in a posture
of receiving from the Lord. That’s what I love about it, it’s impossible
to read Jesus Calling without asking the question, “God, what are you saying to me today? What is your heart for me today?” Bathing yourself in that day after day after
day puts you in a place of receiving and trains the soul to go through life in a posture of
receiving. Here’s a line from Jesus Calling on February
29. I just love these words. I think this lines up with so much of what
we’re talking about. It says: “You are on the right path. Listen to Me more and less to your doubts. I’m leading you along the way I designed just
for you. Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you,
so you are never alone. Do not expect anyone to understand fully My
ways with you any more than you can comprehend My dealings with others. I’m revealing to you the path of Life, day
by day and moment by moment. As I said to my disciple Peter, so I repeat
to you: Follow Me.” And I love those words “follow Me” because
I think it captures what the journey of faith looks like, that when Jesus invites us to
come after Him, it’s about following. It necessitates movement and motion and change
and travel and adventure. And so, that means there’s going to be seasons
in our lives when we’re sensing Him and His presence is real, closer than our next breath. And there can be other times when we wonder
where He is. But it’s in times like that He’s taking us
deeper and deeper into Himself. You know the word question actually comes
from the root word quest, and that’s what we’re all on, a quest. We’re pursuing God and He’s with us through
all the highs and lows, the ebbs and flows of faith. And even if it feels like our faith fails,
the good news is He never will. I’m learning that God is speaking, but I’m
not always listening.[k] The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said that, “Earth is
crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes.” And so, we begin to understand, You know what? God is speaking, maybe it’s through His scripture
when I open it up in the morning. Or maybe it’s in a conversation like this
one, and something you say just resonates and you go, Oh yeah, Lord, you’re speaking
to me that way. Maybe it’s just the beauty and wonder of creation
as you’re walking outside and taking it all in. Maybe it’s just you being moved by some piece
of art or a poem, and it touches your heart. I think these are all ways that God speaks
to us. If God exists, then there is no such thing
as ordinary ground. It’s all holy. Like this moment right now, wherever you are
is holy ground. The only response then is to be like Moses:
Okay, I’m gonna take off my sandals. I’m going to learn to listen, even in the
mundane moments, even in the hectic moments sitting in traffic, mowing the lawn, or washing
the dishes. God, you’re there. And what do you want to say now? How are you speaking to my heart now? It’s not just the big dramatic times when
God rolls back the clouds and says, “Here’s the answer.” I think we all have times where it’s really
obvious God spoke. But I think most of the time, 99% of the time,
it’s the subtle whisper, it’s the sublime. It’s those moments when we learned to be still
that He’s there and we discover He is God. Narrator: You can find Dominic’s book When
Faith Fails at your favorite book retailer today. If you’d like to hear more stories about
how to go on after struggling with life’s toughest moments, check out our interview
with Bishop TD Jakes and worship leader Don Moen. Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast,
we talk with Robert Morris, the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas. Pastor Morris has written about the many ways
we can be generous to others with the blessings God has given us. But when readers would ask him how to be financially
generous when they were struggling themselves, he realized we needed to have a bigger conversation
about how to be better stewards of those blessings first. Pastor Robert Morris: Stewardship involves
every area of our life, because if God owns all the money in my bank account, then I don’t
even grieve if He asks me for some of it to use it for some reason. But it’s more than just the money. He owns my life. That’s why I wrote Beyond Blessed, because
for us to truly live a life of blessing or a life that blesses others, we’ve got to be
generous. But we’ve also got to be good stewards of
what God gives us. Narrator: Do you love hearing these stories
of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with
God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling:
Stories of Faith Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us
a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on
video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday
on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on
our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on jesuscalling.com/media/video.

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