Saved By the Bell

By Brent King On May 15, 2016 Under Books

polar-express-bell

“I pray and pray and pray. I consistently claim God’s promises year after year, and yet I see nothing. God has a pretty poor track record of fulfilling any of His promises to me.”

The thought took me off-guard. Yet it did ring true, and a squadron of unanswered prayers strafed me.

“But, but…” I desperately tried to defend God, citing all the times God had come through for me, but they all seemed like meaningless coincidence.

Why was God so silent—so distant? He seemed to answer others. What was I doing wrong? What magic words were missing in my requests?

My next thought shocked me. “Perhaps it’s because He doesn’t exist.”

And I couldn’t believe my response. “Well, He may as well not exist for me.”

I attempted to terminate the crazy spiral with common sense. I recited prophecy, archeology, and the facts of history. Jesus was real—then and now.

“Then why is He ignoring you?”

I couldn’t shake the accusation. Everyone else had glowing miracles to recount while I was left stuttering.

I fell asleep amid dark thoughts, swimming in doubt.


I awoke to more of the same. My morning prayers were a wash. I couldn’t deny God’s existence, but I hated His silence, his shunning, and the way He played favorites.

“I don’t like the way You run things,” I shouted.

I gave up and stormed out for a walk. I had to clear my mind.

The sun warmed my face, and a cool breeze rustled the trees. The sky was so blue that I could almost drink it. The houses and flowers slipped by.

“You’re a doubter…a doubter.” I was my own judge and jury. “Doubter!”

Yes, I was a doubter, like so many others before me. I remembered the first chapter of James. Doubters get nothing from God. I didn’t want to be a doubter, but I couldn’t see any other options. I was a victim of thorough biblical teaching from birth. I was collateral damage in a supernatural war from which I would just as soon be exempt.

As I strolled down my neighborhood street a familiar scene from one of my favorite movies, The Polar Express, pierced my mind like the rays of the morning sun. Soon I held the bell in my hand, shaking it near my ear, but all I could hear clashed with the morning splendor around me.

“You’re a doubter…a doubter.” It whispered the harsh words. “Doubter!”

My heart sank. I was losing my grasp on all that I thought I believed, all that I held dear. My heart grew desperate, and I held the bell out in front of me. With earnestness befitting my extremity I gripped it, like the keel on a capsized lifeboat.

“I believe,” I said. “I believe.”

I refused to let go of the word as my heart focused on the imaginary bell in my hand. I formed the phrase again and again with my lips.

The neighborhood floated by, oblivious to my supernatural trauma. At last the climactic moment came, and I held the bell to my ear and shook it.

I froze in my tracks as an unexpected God shattered my doubts. The clear, high ring of a glorious bell reverberated in my ear—a clear, high ring from my imaginary bell.

A gust of wind had picked that moment to blow through the morning and engage the most bell-like set of wind chimes I have ever heard, at just the moment I walked by, at just the moment I shook my bell.

My heart leapt. A living God, a God who often hides in dark places, was speaking to me.

Coincidence? I think not. Sometimes the voice of God is so unmistakable that no one can miss it, and when it comes—sweeter than the chime of any bell—no doubt can hold it’s ground.

So yes, I still believe.

Why?

Because a real God actually speaks to me at my lowest points, even through the ringing of an imaginary bell from one of my favorite stories.

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