Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the greatest authors of his age. He wrote numerous short stories and poems, but he is best known for his novels, most notably Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Many of his writings are still required readings in school. But most people are not aware of the depth and strength of the faith he had in God.
Stevenson’s life was a bit of a Dr. Jeckyll-Mr. Hyde story in and of itself. He was raised in Scotland in the mid-1800’s in a very strict Christian home. But once he left home and began attending college, he rebelled against the teachings of the church. He called Christianity “the deadliest gag and wet blanket that can be laid on a man,” and adopted a thoroughly worldly lifestyle. He even referred to himself as a “youthful atheist.”
But as he grew older, he began to have, as he described it, “doubts about his doubts.” He came to see that for all its claims to wisdom, the world had no satisfying answers to the deepest questions of life.
And thus, because the world couldn’t satisfy the thirst in his life, he returned to God. Later, Robert Louis Stevenson would write, “There is a God who is manifest for those who care to look for Him.” And he described his own walk with God as a “cast iron faith.”
Like Stevenson, most of us have gone through periods of doubt in our lives–especially in a crazy year like 2020 when few things have gone like we had hoped or planned–and there’s a little prodigal son in all of us. But there comes a time when we have to have, as he worded it, “doubts about our doubts.” This world will lie to us, and rarely delivers on what it promises. But if we are sincere in our seeking truth–and seeking God–He will not leave us hanging. He truly will manifest Himself to those who really care to look for Him.
F.F. Bosworth said it well a long time ago: “Believe your beliefs, and doubt your doubts.” (Some will also recall that Switchfoot adapted that statement in the lyrics to one of their songs.) That’s what truly exercising our faith looks like, even when we are inclined to doubt. I wonder, what would happen if each of us really lived by what we say we believe today, and refused to believe our doubts along the way?
I am praying that you will, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.