Monday, September 28, 2009

Faith, Undefined

No doubt, some find faith (including mine) to be suspicious; some find it curious; some silly; some fascinating; some admirable, or even enviable. I must be quick to listen, and careful in responding to any perspective or assessment of my faith. I do not pretend to fully understand it myself,... neither its every tenet nor its every operative feature. But nor do I fully understand gravity, although I have become quite accustomed to it. Faith in Jesus Christ, and gravity, are fundamental in the world in which I live.

It was not always so. I think that it is quite common, perhaps even “developmental”, for a young man to proceed from denial…to doubt…to belief…to knowledge, …the same quality of “knowledge” that one has in gravity. (Or for the sake of the nuclear physicist who might fully dispel the mystery of gravity, perhaps we might substitute “love” for "gravity").

I have walked down the long hallway, turning many doorknobs to various rooms, rattling many doors. Many were locked. Some I actually entered, but quickly…or not so quickly…retreated, and moved further down the hallway. Many questions got answered. Many more did not get “answered”, but were somehow otherwise “resolved” or simply lost their importance. Some remain quite unresolved. There came a point in time when a profound faith was all I knew for sure, somewhat like gravity or love, neither of which can be denied; neither of which requires an explanation or a defense. This may sound like resignation. To my sons, this may sound a bit like Kierkegaard, and perhaps it is. But I am more struck by the repentant words of Job after his epic quarrel with God:

“You [God] asked [me, Job], ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I [Job] spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
Job 42:3

The Psalmist seems to exhibit a similarly humbled heart resting in the arms of a trustworthy, but unfathomable, God, when he declared:

“I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131

It is understandable that many require a clearer, succinct definition of "faith". For those, Hebrews 11:1 teaches: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." We do not see God, or gravity, or love, but the existence and power of each is clearly manifested and experienced.