Our theme for October is “Why I Believe.”
I’ve been thinking a lot this past month about the concept of conviction: ‘The feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true,’ according to Merriam-Webster. That definition seems aptly confident, yet unsettling at the same time. The feeling of being one hundred percent certain of something ought to be decisively reassuring, but what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? What happens when my convictions are in direct opposition to someone else’s convictions? Surely one of us is wrong. It can’t be me, of course—because of my conviction—but in my opposer’s eyes, it must be me. And therein lies the wonder.
Conviction leads me to believe I’ll never leave Michigan. Why would I? I was born here, raised here, fell in love here, work here, and live here very happily. The majority of my free time is spent advocating—subtly and overtly—how our entire state is worthy of appreciation and exploration.
Conviction leads me to believe that Taryn was meant to be my life partner. I knew that even during my freshman year of college. And here we are enjoying our seventh year of dating and our second month of marriage.
Conviction leads me to believe there are people out there who love me. I’m a blessed man. I am now a part of two encouraging families, not including the numerous friends out there who’ve given me their time and support over the years. Experience has shown me that this love is honest and genuine.
Conviction leads me to believe that God is real, that He died to save humanity, and that in spite of my often-weak devotion, He still loves me unconditionally.
But there is still the wonder. I have another conviction: that certain events, ideas, and causes exist beyond humanity’s capacity to understand. “Rationales” would not be the right word because they would not appear rational to us. If God exists, why does humanity end up in certain situations? Is it necessary for acts of evil to happen exactly as they do?
This train of thought leads me to the story of Noah. To me, the Flood is the most shocking and frightening story in the entire Bible. No measure so drastic has ever been undertaken before or since. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). Every inclination… only evil all the time. Even if you read that as an exaggeration, humanity had reached a low so despicable that God decided to scrap the whole idea and start afresh.
Conviction tells me He did not decide this overnight.
It makes me wonder how we compare today with the populace referred to in Genesis. Now, I wasn’t around in 2500 BC, but I have to believe some of humanity’s modern-day transgressions aren’t much better. And besides that, there are more of us now, lots more opportunities for atrocity and corruption to steal the spotlight. I think of the most cringe-worthy moments in human history and wonder: is it impractical for God to keep on with this world rather than create a new one? Do we exist today solely because of the promise of the rainbow? To humanity’s rationale, there comes a point where you have to nip it in the bud, cut your losses, and start over. Would God keep a promise even if it meant sticking with a species predisposed to evil and greed? When he could’ve created a better one, still exhibiting the option of free will, but perhaps tweaked a bit more towards the light? As you can see the story of the Flood opens up a can of worms that can be little more than acknowledged in a blog post as brief as this.
But the nice thing about having a conviction, even with the caveat of wonder and fear of the unknown, is that you believe it to be true. I am comforted by the promise God made to Noah, and I believe He’s going to stick with this team in spite of our track record, for reasons beyond my comprehension. And from the side that I can understand, I believe that God sees enough glimmers of faith and goodwill in our everyday conduct to keep Him convicted of our worth.
To end on a more positive note than the verse from Genesis, I quote another conviction of mine, Ecclesiastes 3:12, which was read at my wedding just over a month ago: “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good while they live.” And that is an encouraging thought.
Nick Meekhof (’15) graduated with a major in writing and a minor in geography. A farmer for the first twenty-three years of his life, Nick currently works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. When he’s not traversing the state conducting orchard inspections, he can be found exploring the rivers, forests, and small towns all throughout the Great Lakes State. His current goals include kayaking one hundred Michigan rivers, swimming in Lake Michigan during every month of the year, and visiting as many Michigan breweries as possible.