Have you ever had a startling thought that falls out of nowhere and hits your head like an actual brick? Thoughts like, “Do I even believe in God? Is the Gospel good news? Is Jesus real? Is it okay to ask Jesus if he’s real? Does that prove that I KNOW he’s real in my heart, and I’m just being an annoying question-asker?”

I don’t know where those ideas come from, but I have them often.

Some people would probably point to Satan, but I’d lean towards Frederick Buechner, my favorite 90-year-old author, who says, “If you don’t have doubts, you’re either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.”  This is where I’ve found myself lately, questioning yet wanting to believe: I’m not convinced, yet I’m kept afloat by a minuscule seed of faith.

Then this morning, after watching the movie Going Clear for the third—yes, THIRD— time, I read Galatians 5, and the whole thing became so beautifully undeniable to me: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:1-6).

What Jesus did is too kind and mysterious and unimaginable to be make-believe. No human could’ve thought it up. Just watch Going Clear and see what happens when a person starts his own religion.

God’s purpose for you is not slavery or terror-driven submission. It is not striving. It is not to scare you with hell. It is not works-contingent grace. It is not bribery. It is not guilt. It is not shame. It is not obsessive control or manipulation. It is not secrecy. It is not darkness. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts that make you good enough for heaven.

God’s purpose for you is freedom. And while his aim is certainly his own glory, it is simultaneously for your joy. You are not a pawn in his game. You were his idea. And even though you’re a tiny particle floating in space, you matter to him: he gave himself for you. His love for us is stunning, and this morning, just a glimpse of it shocked me back to life.