Nothing to Believe In

zomby-8I read an article by Nici Lalli, a writer, educator and the author of the book, Nothing: Something to Believe In.  Lalli is an atheist; her new article passionately expresses her hope that believers and atheists could learn to coexist without imposing their personal beliefs on each other. I am cool with that even though I can’t get a handle on believing in “nothing”. Conversely, I expect Ms Lalli would say the same thing about my belief in God.

In the last century when I was an altar boy, the week before Easter was a big deal and a special time for young John. It was a time of “supersized belief”.  During “Holy Week” there was something going on at our church every day or night and I was always right in the thick of it. Although I couldn’t put my finger on it, I recall that time as being strangely exciting and spiritually set apart from the rest of the year. Accordingly, I felt especially close to God during that week.

Back then we didn’t talk out loud when we were in the church. Instead we whispered because we knew God was there. A perpetually burning candle high above the main altar constantly reminded us. The truth is I knew he was there even without the candle because I had been taught he was there.  That is why I believed.  That is why I believed in God. I had been taught to believe. Twelve years of Catholic education taught me to believe in someone beyond myself.  Today, I believe for a better reason. I’ve experienced God and the truth of these words written by Jeremiah.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)

I know what God has done in my life.  I have experienced his miraculous power and presence, his mercy, his love, his acceptance, his forgiveness and his leadings.  Can I explain God? No, but I know that he is.  When I read Lalli’s article I felt sadness for her. I don’t see how anybody can have even a speck of hope in nothing at all.

As I wrestled with that question it occurred to me that when it is all said and done I believe in nothing too; albeit not the nothingness of Lalli’s book. Yet, we both believe in nothing.  My nothing is the fact that there was nothing in the tomb that first Easter morning. Friends, that “nothing” is indeed something to believe in.

Something to think about

The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory.

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