I almost lost my faith last month, but I got it back. So what happened exactly? I'll explain.
I'll begin with stating something obvious. I'm a human being, therefore I have a finite mind. I cannot properly understand infinite things, and I struggle to understand absolutes (absolute power, holiness, love etc.) I don't want to make a big martyr of myself, but the fact remains I have suffered quite a bit, and my mind has become somewhat cynical in the process. Likewise, my heart has grown a bit cold. So in short, Aleax = a being with a finite cynical mind and a bit of a cold heart. On to the next paragraph.
For me, the problem with Arminian theology (I'm not even going to touch Calvinism) was that whereas on one hand it didn't really make any sense, on the other hand it kind of did. Let's see: there's an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving God who "desires" to save all His creation. Then there's a few billion creatures, which countless amounts of church hymns and Bible verses describe with adjectives like "poor, wretched, carnal, broken" etc. Okay, all creation need to be saved. We've got to have someone who's going to be held responsible for the work. Who would be the more logical pick, this omnipotent God or the "poor, wretched and broken" creatures? I think God would be a better pick. I think pretty much everyone agrees with me. Yet, according to Arminianism, in the end of it, it's up to the creatures who, according to Bible, aren't able to amount to pretty much anything on their own. This never really made sense to me.
But like I said, on the other hand I could sort of accept Arminianism. Not the harshest versions of it with sinners burning forever in a literal fire, but some other versions, well, yes, kind of. I remember reading one of those "I went to Hell" accounts. A woman and an escorting angel went to The Bad Place. It was a cavern-like place with very dim lighting. People were sitting around in tables looking sad, and many of them were drinking beer. The woman was surprised at what she saw. She told the escorting angel she had expected Hell to be much worse. The angel told her this was only the first level of Hell, prepared for good and decent people who had behaved well, but died as unbelievers. There were more severe punishments for murderers, warmongers etc. But in the first Hell, people's fate was "only" to spend years in darkness and sadness, in a place completely devoid of God's light and love, having got nothing to do except for feel continuous misery and regret for not making it. Days would feel like weeks, weeks would feel like months, months would feel like years, and years like a lifetime... Every soul entering this Hell was indeed given some money, which could be used to buy beer to alleviate the sadness caused by the regret. Also, in this Hell (and in every other Hell as well) souls were gradually "wearing out", in other words, people were slowly but surely getting annihilated. I didn't take this NDE account in as absolute truth, but after finished reading it, I found myself thinking maybe something like this was justice. After all, none of us really deserved Heaven, but none of us deserved to be punished eternally, either. Perhaps some years of misery followed by annihilation was what the average unbelieving Joes and Janes deserved. After all, the world we know was full of tragedies, so maybe an unhappy ending for 95% people somehow fit in the picture.
Fast forward many years. One day I became 100% convinced Bible teaches UR. At first it made my faith a lot stronger. Finally Christianity made complete sense. Both my mind and heart could immediately accept the teaching. But in the long run, the cynical part of my mind and the cold part of my heart began to take control. Can you imagine 10+ billions of people living forever in an eternal state of bliss and perfect harmony? Maybe you can't. Doesn't it sound a bit utopian? Too good to be true? Greatness beyond human recognition? Life had taught me that if something seemed too good to be true, it usually was. So the cynical part of my mind started coming up with alternate scenarios. What if the Universe was just an experience being run on a super computer? Kind of a cosmic ant farm. Someone just fed people different kind of "God-experiences" and observed their reactions. Muslims would get visions of Mohammed, Christians would get visions of Jesus etc. Gary Amirault would get UR affirming prophecies and Bill Wiese would get very hellish experiences. At some point the Experiment Conductor would decide he's collected enough data and pull the plug on us, and we would just cease to exist. No return of Jesus, no Millennial Kingdom, no GWTJ and most importantly, no eternal life.
At first these seeds of unbelief didn't bear fruits of unbelief, but towards the end of this summer (2011) they started to do so. There was a six week period that was almost devoid of spiritual life. I didn't go to church. I didn't read any Bible. On odd days I tried to pray but wandered off after a few sentences, on even days I didn't even make an attempt. Deep down I believed my prayers to be of zero effect anyway. My thought patterns started to resemble these:
a] ET can't be true 'cos it's not in the Bible -->
b] ED can't be true 'cos it's not in the Bible -->
c] UR can't be true 'cos it's just too good to be true -->
d] Bible is said to be inerrant word of God -->
e] Bible seems to be teach things that aren't true -->
f] Bible probably cannot be trusted -->
g] If the Bible cannot be trusted, it's quite possibly a book of fiction -->
h] If the Bible is a book of fiction, it's quite possible that NO GOD EXISTS.
One Saturday evening I realized I had very few mustard seeds left. Then I made a decision. I would go to church the next day. In case "The Dude" would indeed show up, I would continue seeking. But in case of a no-show, I'd throw in the towel for good.
I didn't feel too good taking a seat on the pew the next day. After all, I thought I was something like 1½ hours short of becoming an atheist. Our pastor greeted the congregation and told us a guesting pastor would give us a speech today. The guesting pastor introduced himself and promised great things would probably happen in the church today, for God, Jesus and the HS were among us. First he gave a sermon. There was some good stuff and some bad stuff in it; I paid attention to the good stuff and just ignored the bad stuff (eternal torchery). But the most important thing happened after the sermon. The pastor announced Jesus had arrived to the church to heal people. He said he could see Him walking among people and laying His hands over them. The pastor gave "a live commentary" of what he claimed he was seeing with his spiritual eyes. "Right now He's laying His hands over this sister with a blue shirt... she's got problems with her heart... In Christ's name, your healing process starts now!" "Now I can see Him touching that brother with a beard, he's got a fractured ankle... In Jesus' name, your healing process starts now!" I witnessed the people spoken of getting heavily touched by something, indeed. Some of them were so moved they started to cry. I was a bit overwhelmed by this and started to hope if Jesus really was in the building He would not touch me, 'cos for some reason I thought I possibly couldn't "withstand" the touch or something. Only a few seconds after this the pastor announced he could sense a spirit of fear in someone who was present, and then he went on stating how perfect love casts out all fear. However, my wish was fulfilled and I wasn't touched.
At the end of the service the guesting pastor and his assistant asked if someone would like to receive intercessory prayer. A lot of people went forward to the altar. Me too; after all, I had suffered from a personality disorder (which produces depression and anxiety -like symptoms) pretty much all my life, so I started having second thoughts about this opportunity to be healed. Eventually my turn came. The pastor (whom I had never seen before and who could know absolutely nothing about me) laid his hands on me and, to my astonishment, described my problems very accurately. Then he announced that my healing process would start. I didn't feel anything immediately. However, later on that day I noticed I smelled of a pleasant scent unknown to me, as if I had been anointed with physical oil. Also I didn't feel any depression or anxiety symptoms. I felt really great and tranquil the rest of the day.
The next morning I woke up feeling rather blue. Immediately the cynical part of me started developing thoughts like "healing process... yeah right." But gradually something started happening in me. Over the past few weeks many people have told me I look surprisingly much better than before. Some have even stated I'm like a completely different person now, in a positive way. I've started caring about my own well-being instead of just accepting being kind of depressed. I picked up gym, which has further aided my healing. On the whole I'm feeling such levels of energy and calmness of mood I haven't felt in years. To conclude my testimony: I believe "The Dude" (as I put it) indeed did show up. And I do retain my faith.
I hope this testimony will be of some help to someone.
(I'd also like to apologize for the numerous grammatical errors I probably made.)