5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your fleshand refreshment to your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)
Say we had never met before. And, honestly, there is a pretty good chance – if you are reading this blog – that we haven’t. I would suggest we meet at a neutral, public place (most likely a Caribou Coffee or Dunn Brothers) where we could sit down, grab some java and talk. (For those of you who know me already, I’d love to sit at the ‘Bou for some coffee and conversation as well. E-mail me or message me on FB.)
As our conversation went on, we would share little facts and details of our lives – work, family, interests, faith, etc… Nothing too deep or personal (after all, we just met). And we would most likely trust that what the other is saying is truth. Unless, of course, one of us goes off on some tangent about being the first man to open a Burger Chef restaurant on Mars only to have to close it down when you discover the Martian atmosphere has too little oxygen to support the flame for your burger grills, so you relocate to Mattoon Illinois where you discover your true life’s ambition is politics, so you move to Europe and run for King of Belgium, only to abdicate after scandal breaks because you make some ill-conceived slanderous comment Belgian waffles, and so on and so on…
We have to enter into the conversation with some level of cautious trust. As time goes on, and we get to know one another better, that trust level grows. Over time we build a relationship on that shared trust.
Today seems like a good day to discuss faith. The subject was broached yesterday as we discussed the Bible because, frankly, if you do not trust Scripture – God’s written revelation of Himself to His people – you will never trust God. And if you never trust God, you will never have a meaningful relationship with Him.
As we continue seeking God through Advent (and beyond), faith will become more and more helpful in our understanding of the Lord. The reason is that we humans, quite simply, are not God. We are flawed and imperfect. We cannot understand the past or discern the present with 100% clarity and understanding. In fact, whether due to misunderstanding or bias or any of a number of reasons, we often (maybe even usually) get our perceptions wrong. Add to that the fact that we do not know the future, and you see why it is far better to trust God and His Word, instead of relying on ourselves.
Faith is far stronger than “fact”. Our idea of fact is based on what we (think we) know for sure. However, faith – believing what is unseen – brings amazing results. This is where God works; it is His milieu. God’s thoughts and reasoning are far above those of limited man, so the only way we are going to comprehend the Lord with any depth is through faith.
That does not mean that reason does not apply. It most certainly does. And, my prayer is that, as we go along, your faith is deepened and each of us sees just how reasonable following Jesus Christ really is. You see, God is so often the God of the Unexpected. To Him, what we consider “miraculous” is mundane (as if anything to do with God could ever be mundane).
Take a moment and read Matthew 14:22-33. The apostles are in a boat, out on the sea of Galilee, very late at night. The time of night should have been no concern to the fisherman among them. These guys worked the night shift, fishing when it was cooler and the catch would be better. But, on this particular night, the waters were rough. And out walking on the waves they see… an apparition? A ghost? No – it’s Jesus!
And when Jesus tells them Who He is and not to fear, Peter – who loved and was devoted to Jesus in his own very flawed, very human way – wanted so badly for it to be Christ on the water that he cried out, “If it’s really you, call out for me to come to you!”
And He did.
And Peter did.
Peter walked on the water. Not by his own power, but the power of God working through faith.
And everything was going great, until…
Until Peter took His eyes off Jesus. He turned away from faith to face the “facts”: he was standing atop crashing wavs in the middle of a storm. He was human. He can’t walk on water!
He panicked. But, Jesus saved him.
Oh ye of little faith.
Oh we of little faith.
Faith is what it takes to understand the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith is what we need to know God better. Because, left to our feeble comprehension, God and His will and His ways are impossible to understand. We start with a little faith. We crack open the Bible and begin reading, and seeking Him in His Word. We pray and begin looking for Him in the everyday of our lives. We seek Him diligently, trusting that He is here and, in His time, will reveal Himself to us. And, one of the most remarkable a-ha moments is when eyes are open and we see that He has been with us all along, every step of the way. Through every trial and every hardship, every celebration and every mournful day.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then,who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! _ Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)