Faith and Doubt [Guest Post]

Kathy Stock Shares Her Journey of Faith

I’d like to thank Andrew for inviting me to participate on his blog. Andrew is a great writer and a passionate leader. I’ve read his interesting thoughts and teachings and have personally benefited from the discussions I’ve seen afterward between people on different sides of many different issues.

Faith and Doubt - Kathy Stock

I am a lover of conversation. As a flaming extrovert, I thrive off of the company of others. Drop me in a room full of strangers and I’ll leave with a long list of new friends.

This temperament of mine has served me well, especially as a musician and public speaker but it has its downside. I share a bit too easily, I care a bit too recklessly and I am dramatically affected by the thoughts and feelings of others.

Wearing my hungry heart on the outside of my sleeve has served me both well and negatively in ministry. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I am told I came to know Jesus at the ripe ol’ age of two when I knelt beside my mother and wanted to do what my five-year-old sister did at church that day. So, at five and two, we surrendered our sin-laden lives to the Lord, knowing full well the gravity of that decision and went forth, sinning no more.

Just kidding.

We had no idea what we were doing!

Yet, I remained ingrained in Christ, and He in me, from then until now…sometimes fervently on fire for the gospel, sometimes gripping tightly with white knuckles while doubt all but swallows me whole.

Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. Click To TweetWhat I have learned is that faith isn’t a black and white issue. Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. It’s complicated and beautiful and terrifying and filled with unknowns.

I’ve done a lot of living for a thirty-three year old woman. I was married at twenty, a mother at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. I’m a published author. I have lived in two countries, three states, two provinces, and have changed addresses thirteen times in the last thirteen years.

I’m a musician who performs (unapologetically) secular music during the week and joyfully leads worship in a congregation I love on Sunday mornings (Spruce Hills).

I had cancer while my children were two and six years old and have been in remission for three and a half years.

I recently went back to school, where I sit in classrooms surrounded by other students who are closer to my son’s age than my own.

What has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus. Click To TweetLife has been more interesting than I can properly articulate in one blog post and I have had some high highs and some low lows along the way but what has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus.

Ironically, (and perhaps I’m over sharing here, in true Kathy form) I am writing this during an intense season of doubt.

Some do not believe that faith and doubt can co-exist but I am living, breathing evidence that they indeed can. I embody both. The disciples embodied both. John the Baptist embodied both, and he saw the sky open up and watched a dove appear out of nowhere, landing on Jesus and then heard God audibly say, “This is MY SON” and he STILL questioned who Jesus was from the darkness of his prison cell. If John the Baptist can doubt, and still be labeled by Jesus as one of the greatest human beings ever, certainly we can too (Luke 3:21-22; 7:18f).

This truth has brought an enormous amount of comfort to me as I navigate life, especially in my thirties. For the majority of my twenties, I lived in the Southern USA or the ‘Bible belt’ as it is sometimes referred.

I was so entrenched in church and church culture that I didn’t have one friend that wasn’t a Christian. I worked at church, sang at church, socialized at church…and the energy that I should have spent going out into the world and being Jesus to people was instead spent arguing about theology with other Christians.

My faith was very, very strong during that season but I wasn’t fulfilling the great commission. I wasn’t being Jesus.

When I was twenty-eight, my little family of four immigrated back to Newfoundland with nothing but the clothes on our backs and six suitcases in our hands. We settled swiftly and I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the ‘Bible belt’ anymore…and I was quite honestly relieved… so I set out to meet as many different people in as many different places as I could.

I began playing music at events and restaurants, eventually landing a permanent gig at a piano bar in downtown St. John’s (The Fifth Ticket).

After I finished chemotherapy and began my remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I set out to meet as many young adult cancer survivors as I could, and pour into their lives in a way I so desperately needed when I was sick. No hidden agenda, no bait and switch to evangelize…just living out love in the way that Jesus has asked us to and seeing what happens. Faith, usually, naturally comes up in conversation.

Through all of this, I have met so many different kinds of friends. People from varying spiritual, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, same sex couples, single parents, transgendered men and women…I’ve met ex-cons and CEOS, reconnected with people I knew from high school and been blown away by how we have all developed and evolved throughout the years.

There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story. Click To TweetAnd through all of these encounters I have learned one very valuable lesson: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story.

Breaking through the Christian bubble that I had created for myself has opened my heart and mind up to a world of doubt and questions that challenge me on a daily basis.

They challenge how I raise my children and the words I speak behind the microphone on Sunday mornings…but it has also allowed me the powerful opportunity to be Christ to people who haven’t experienced Him in a real way. Not by preaching at or fighting with or segregating myself from them, but by doing life shoulder to shoulder with them and seeing what God does through relationship.

I’m finding the older I get, the less I can claim to know for sure but the more O.K. I am with not knowing.  As exhausting as it is, doubt is worth wrestling with.

There are many days when I wonder whether any of this is legitimate at all, but I rest in the words of John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave and Peter responded, “Lord, to what person could we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

When doubt creeps in...I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. Click To TweetWhen doubt creeps in, or bursts the door down, I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. When I am challenged by the non-sense that is grace, the arrogance that is self-sufficiency, the ridiculousness that is child-like faith, I cling with both hands to Jesus!

I recently heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty…because what do the certain need with faith? The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and my hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).

There is no one else for me. None but Jesus.

Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?

The One Who Really Matters

We’re living in a world that demands our every moment of every day. Whether its politics, our jobs, family, friends, local church or community, we find ways to keep busy. The question is – who is at the center of all those activities? Is Jesus the one who really matters in our lives, or do we put ourselves in the center?

Who's More Important - Jesus or Me

The more we put ourselves in the center of our lives, the more we move away from Jesus. The more we move away from Jesus, the more stressed we become about the things we can’t change and the less likely we are to take the healthy risks that are required to follow Jesus’ agenda.

Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us. Click To TweetTo put this another way – are we being selfless or selfish?  If Jesus is at the center of our lives, then we use our money, time and energy for the benefit of Jesus.  If we are at the center of our lives, then we use those resources for our benefit.  Jesus desires for us to selflessly use our resources so to benefit the Kingdom, not us.

As I reflected on this personally, I thought about the two potential options this way:Discipleship Journey: Selfless vs Selfish

I know I need to make sure I’m moving towards the selfless side, but my humanity clearly wants to pursue the selfish side.

So how do I make sure I’m becoming a selfless disciple of Jesus?

The answer: start putting Jesus in the center.

That might be easier said than done.  I get that.  But let’s start with a simple narrative from Luke’s gospel.

Mary and Martha…

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, ESV)

Luke is trying to teach us about holy hospitality – how we welcome and allow Jesus to be the center of everything we do.  So much so, that we almost allow Jesus to be our host and we follow His lead.1

Mary focused her attention on Jesus.  She humbly took full advantage of the opportunity with Jesus. An opportunity that, in their culture, wouldn’t normally be an option.

Martha, on the other hand, was distracted by being “anxious and troubled about many things.” She was doing well and serving her guests, but was selfishly overwhelmed.  So much so, that when she spoke to Jesus she referred to herself three times (10:40).

Are we disciples (selfless) or are we distracted (selfish)?

I think we get distracted in our world of busyness and perfectionism quite often.  We get caught up doing things according to our agenda and forget to balance our lives according to Jesus’ agenda. Jesus is waiting for us to eagerly become selfless disciples, and not be distracted by selfish performance.2

What would our agenda look like if Jesus was at the center?  On the other hand, what would our agenda look like if we put ourselves at the center?  Would our priorities be different in each case? All too often, we sacrifice what really matters to pursue things that aren’t as important.

For example, when we become busy the first thing we often cut is our personal time with God.  Think about that – we cut the most important thing first.  From my experience, when we cut our personal devotions, we tend to default to selfishness.  From there, our priorities start to shift.

We shift from pursing God’s agenda to our own agenda.

We shift from growing the Kingdom to spending our money elsewhere.

We shift from committing our families to the local church to protecting family time at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong, family is very important!  But when Jesus is at the center of our lives, His call to put Him before our family begins to make more sense:

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Of course, “hate” is not referring to “dislike” rather the extreme difference between a selfless disciple and a selfish unbeliever.  We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples.We need to stop thinking like unbelievers and start challenging ourselves to become disciples. Click To Tweet

I’ll let Paul’s words conclude:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

Your turn…

Is Jesus at the center of your life?  Do your daily activities prove it?

I gave our congregation the opportunity to challenge themselves with a little exercise.  I gave them a sheet to list all their activities and to indicate which activities were most important if: 1) Jesus was at the center of their lives; and, 2) if we were at the center. It’s a humbling exercise if done honestly.

You can download the template here: Who’s More Important Worksheet. Maybe it’s a great way for you to take a spiritual inventory of what we spend our money, time and energy doing. I’ve also included a blank version of the above graphic.


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