A blog I follow regularly from All Saints Center for Theology is “The Writer’s Block.” Today the featured post was about the messiness of faith.
Relying on early Church history to make the primary point, the author was mostly concerned about the big question that has caused division through the ages, the answer to which requires faith. Is Jesus who he says he is as recorded in scripture? This essential tenet of Christianity has met with all manner of trouble and a fair share of messes.
All well and good to understand the struggles and costs involved as a result of which side of the issue one has stood on. But, I have in mind a different sort of messiness that results from faith as we grapple with who God says he is and what he says he’ll do for us. This day-in and day-out faith is a lot harder than it seems.
From every corner we are told to live our best lives and to be an amazing success, for God’s sake. There aren’t many bestselling authors and celebrity Christians on the speaking circuit taking about the messiness that comes from faith. They wouldn’t make much money if they did.
This morning I took a drive along Lake Dillon, about an hour west of Denver in the heart of the Rockies. The visit to beautiful Summit County for a few days is a both the result and antidote to the faith mess.
I happen to be in Summit County, Colorado, due to the generosity of a friend who provided temporary accommodations for a few nights. Sunday I moved out of my home because I did not renew the lease, a seemingly obvious choice because I’ve long been without regular paying work. That last nickel was spent months ago, and were it not for God’s amazing provision through the generosity of many people at the right moment, I would have been out on the street, without food, and in the midst of a far more difficult situation than I am at the moment. Despite such care in the past several months, it’s difficult for me to be without a home or an address. It’s hard to not know what the next step is, like where I’ll sleep when it’s time to check out Thursday. I don’t know how long it will be before I have any sort of regular income again. I’m walking a spiritual tightrope without a visible net, but each wobbling movement is one of faith.
Through this and many other experiences, I’ve come to know the immense importance of our faith. God puts great value on it, and gives us ample opportunities to develop every ounce of faith that is within us. It’s not surprising that God uses hard experiences, tough trials, pain and suffering in his intensive faith boot camp. When we’re immersed in such training, when our lives are upended for inexplicable reasons, when we face circumstances beyond our imagination, we’re told to be happy, or to rejoice. (1 Peter 1:6) Hardships develop faith which is worth more than gold, one of the most valuable earthly substances.
I’m in Dillon because I haven’t a job, a home, or any other viable options. This mess comes from faith. And yet I’m here as part of the answer.
All around are beautiful mountain views. The peaks are a strong, silent witness to God who created the earth and all that is. They reassuringly point higher to God who is above all.
Even on that drive along Lake Dillon, I was reminded in a clear manner that our faith will result in a life that looks messy, especially to anyone looking in. The sign in front of an A&W in nearby Frisco proclaimed a current chili dog promotion and added “Isaiah 43.” When I looked up the chapter, I read about the messiness that comes from faith: “When you pass through the waters … When you pass through the rivers … When you walk through the fire.” But there it is! In the midst of the difficulties outlined in Isaiah is the promise upon which our faith hangs: God is with us, Emmanuel.
When in the messes of faith, when in doubt, go higher!
“I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1