The gift of Faith

I think…..that one of the most enlightening, compelling and challenging passages in the Bible is Mark 14:29; And Jesus said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. Then in verse 30 and 31, Peter begins to sink because he saw the winds and he cried out, Lord save me! Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. You of little faith, He said, why did you doubt?

This is one the most dramatic examples of the many passages in Scripture where Jesus talks about the faith of people, some that have faith, some that don’t,  even including His own apostles at times, as in this case with Peter.

Where does faith come from. Are we born with it? Is it something we can can attain on our own? Can we nurture it? How is it expressed? There are all kinds of questions one might have about faith. I know that I’m one of them and I’m still trying to understand faith and incorporate it more fully in my life.

I think we all would agree that walking on water is miraculous. So, is it possible to allow God to do supernatural things with our lives, if we keep our eyes on God and discern His will and love and be loved.? I think so, if we are humbly following Jesus. If we look to the lives of the Saints, we have evidence of this and two Saints that come to mind from recent history are Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Mother Teresa. Both of these Saints did extraordinary deeds without a perceptible means to which to do them. But did they always have the faith do the great deeds for mankind that they did?

Personally, I think we all have the capacity for faith and I think we all experience faith. For example, when we go into a dark room and reach for the light switch and flip it, we have faith that the light will come on; when we pick up a phone and dial a familiar number, we have faith that we will reach that number; if we see lightning, we have faith that we will hear thunder; and the list is really never ending. Synonyms of faith are words like confidence, trust, reliance, assurance, conviction, and belief, devotion, and loyalty.

Webster’s simple definition of faith is,” a strong belief or trust in someone or something.” And thankfully the Bible has a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1,”now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

We certainly don’t see electricity, except perhaps in thunder storms, so why do we expect a light to come on when we flip a light switch and why do we expect thunder after lightning? Because that is our experience. We know after Spring rains, the flowers will soon burst forth, that is the way its always been and it is our experience.

Now, I think mankind was made to know, love and serve God, but I didn’t always believe that to be true because I didn’t have the wisdom to discern this reality. And I think the reason for my human stupidity is my own personal sin and the sin that Adam passed on to us in original sin. And we are all born this way and some people are blessed in that they discover this reality sooner than later, but I would propose that most of us spend most of our lives living without ever discovering the fullness of this truth. If we had, we would be more like Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe, doing supernatural things. Why do I say this?

Well, if its not our experience to rely and trust in God, how could we? It seems to me that we put too much of our trust and faith in mammon, especially here in the western world. Our bank accounts, retirement accounts, the stock market, insurance, doctors, our jobs, our skills and here of late too many people putting their faith in our government. Not that all these things aren’t important, because God has his hand in all these things,  but did Maximilian and Teresa and the other Saints build their faith in these things? No, they didn’t because they weren’t available to them and had they been, they may have not become the people of faith that they became. They put their faith and trust in God to fulfill their needs. Mother Teresa didn’t start the Sisters of Charity with a thousand young women standing in line at her door wanting to serve the poor. she didn’t have a door. She started by herself and gave all that she had to the poor day after day relying on God to provide for her very sustenance, “that hoped for assurance and conviction of things not seen.” She learned to have faith by experiencing God coming through for her in the small things. She counted on God. And as she was assured of Him fulfilling his promises to her (as he has made to all of us), she trusted and relied on Him more and more. Faith in God is a practiced reality, the more you do it and experience it, the more you realize that you can count on it.

Its fundamental when you think about it. Satan used the distrust card on Adam and Eve and its still his go to card for all of us. It goes something like this, “You can’t trust God to provide for you. He’s holding back on you. You need to trust in your own capabilities and do it your way. Eat the apple and you’ll be like God.” And we buy into it because our parents didn’t know any different either and most of us follow our families’ values, so here we are playing like we are gods looking out for ourselves, with little or no clue about sin, not caring about what God says is the best way to live or not even acknowledging He exists. Not fodder for experiencing the super-naturalness of God in our lives, even though we have the capacity of great faith.

But it don’t have to be……. I’m going to continue this thought at another time and if you have read this and would like to comment, please do.

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