There is a simple concept that runs through my thoughts most every day. A thread that is as strong a spider’s silk but can be as difficult to see as a delicate web spun in the highest corner of a dim room.
I am speaking of faith. In a previous post, I shared a video about that very subject and really did not comment much past that as I felt the video alone spoke volumes. But in looking to further explain the why of who I am, it is not really enough. Though this blog is really just for me it seems (and with a whopping total of less than 100 total page view in the past 3 years there is really no need for anyone in the blog-o-sphere to worry)… but nonetheless, it is in writing about things that helps me to sort through different events and things, sorting the chaff from the wheat and ‘burning’ the unusable. It is in studying what remains that I learn of what is truly important and what is merely good to know.
My faith like everyone else is extremely personal and yet at the same time I know without a doubt that many do not agree with me while others are on the same page – so much so that their descriptions of their personal conviction and inner faith parallel mine.
The question of “What is Faith?” comes up often when speaking with those who do not share my viewpoint. So much comes out of these internal dialogues that it can easily descend to the point that what they believe seems so far off base that for me to ‘see the world they do’ requires that I ignore my faith and beliefs that it can potentially go well past the point of rhetoric and conjecture into an almost creepy realization that what I consider right and wrong will not fit into their faith construct in any way. Furthermore, if I were to continue down that intellectual path, I could very well lose my own faith in the process.
I like to use the phrase that Henry Blackaby expounded on in his series “Experiencing God” who described it as “A Crisis of Faith“.
At first blush, this seemed way out there, philosophically, because it has been those times that I really questioned my beliefs that I felt furthest from God and His mercy.
Not even able to see much less comprehend how that entered into the discussion. After diligent study, prayer and contemplation of the weekly lessons I eventually realized that I was moving further away from God and His plan during those times. Not intentionally nor because He had somehow moved, but the drift to a full-blown secular worldview was literally right around the corner and the old man would be demanding his way any minute. But that was and is simply a cleverly designed rabbit hole – one that could suck my very will away if I did not understand the truth at some point and turn back to higher ground. The distance from God’s grace and mercy were real. The gulf I felt in those times was real but then I did not understand what was happening. I had allowed others to chip away at my faith and supplant it with a more politically correct worldview that would be much less threatening than what I knew in my heart to be true.
The gulf was caused by my taking my eye off of God and allowing the world with all it’s glitter and fancy trappings to become vastly more important. Not only was I wrong in allowing this to happen, I was wrong in that God had somehow moved away from me and could not feel what I was going through. Jesus spoke from that same place on the cross at Golgotha. Matt 27:45-46
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).(NIV)
Wow! This is exactly how I had felt!
So, I could not say that God did not understand what I was going thought. He too had felt that great gulf between Him and the Father. Matthew’s Gospel precedes this with a statement that the sky darkened from Noon to three in the afternoon. That darkness is, I believe, a direct example of how that crisis of faith can darken our viewpoint and claim us in the ensuing confusion of the soul.
So, how do we get out of that dark and desolate place? Well, in a nutshell, we have to honestly answer the questions of who is God and who am I?
I am a part of God’s creation and as such, I cannot do any more than any other part of creation by causing the rain to fall or the sun to shine. Much as I would like to say that I could but in truth, I can really do very little to make much of a change in the larger world around me. This blog stands as proof of that. But God can and does make the rain fall and the sun to shine. Or the rain to stop and the sun to be obscured by clouds.
Much like the dark clouds that covered Golgotha on that first Good Friday, there are times when clouds darken the view of the world and the sun is hidden. The sun does not “go away” as it is still shining there above the clouds. Much in the same way can we understand God. Though our view of Him may be obscured and hidden, He is still there. He has always been there and will always be there.
Even when I want to cry out, “God, why did you let that or this happen and what are You going to do about it?” God is there. Not that He’s too busy or any of the other malarkey one hears in those situations (Job heard all of that from his friends, too), He knows what is happening but as James wrote, we will be tried and tested for it is through those times that not only is our faith strengthened, we can also gain a deeper understanding of His purpose for us and what we need to do to be firmly and steadily in the path He has set before us.
Our faith can ground us like nothing else in the world. But without the proper connection to be author of our faith – when in the middle of a personal crisis – can also seem to be a useless rudder on a ship being tossed and buffeted by the winds and waves. We need to be careful of these times when the world and all that glitters can lure us like a siren’s call into the rocks.
I tend to listen to quite a bit of music – no surprise – but occasionally I hear something in a song or lyric that makes me go “Wow! Great idea! That right there says so much to what I am going through right here and now!” It is as if He feels what I am going through and has allowed my to bask in His glory by revealing an underlying truth hidden from a cursory glance. One such song comes from the group Casting Crowns. It is simply called “Who Am I”
I could say more about how this was one of those songs that truly ministered to me but I feel that would take away from the power and beauty of both melody and lyric.
This YouTube video is a wonderful interpretation by UPC Conference Church – Oslo Youth Group. Please enjoy!