Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Faith: How Much is Enough?

ex·pe·ri·ence (ĭk-spîr'ē-əns)
The apprehension of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses or mind: a child's first experience of snow.
Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill: a lesson taught by experience; a carpenter with experience in roof repair.
The knowledge or skill so derived.
An event or a series of events participated in or lived through.
The totality of such events in the past of an individual or group.
tr.v., -enced, -enc·ing, -enc·es.
To participate in personally; undergo: experience a great adventure; experienced loneliness.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin experientia, from experiēns, experient-, present participle of experīrī, to try.]

'For which reason, because we have righteousness through faith, let us be at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; Through whom, in the same way, we have been able by faith to come to this grace in which we now are; and let us have joy in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting; And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope: And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.' (Romans 5:1-5, Bible in Basic English)

'I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time that we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead. And he did help us, and he saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again.' (2 Cor 1:8-10 Living Bible)

'A big wind storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so much that the boat was already filled. He himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up, and told him, "Teacher, don't you care that we are dying?" '(Mark 4:37-38 World English Bible)

Sometimes I can really relate to those disciples in the boat, crying, "God, don't you CARE? Don't you SEE?" It's always amazing to me that God is not weakened by his love for me. His pity doesn't soften his resolve to give me the experiences I need. I've been in the boat with him before. I am beginning to realize that he never planned to keep the storms from touching me. I'm beginning to learn that with a little patience, I'll have an experience that will allow me to trust him further.

I can sympathise with those who find themselves unable to span the chasm that lies between their present knowledge and a knowledge of God with a great leap of faith. We who ask others to do such a thing ought to first ask ourselves if this is what we have done. I have not.

On reflection and careful consideration, however, it has taken a little faith. Enough to make me begin, and to keep me searching for what I had only sensed, and that rather dully. There was no single leap, for me, from doubt to faith. I carried both all along the way. I took little steps with the hope that there would be Something There, and my "faith" was replaced by experience.

Just as there is no way to quickly know or trust a person, or even a methodology, so knowledge of God is rarely sudden and undeniable. Rather, it is a cumulation of experiences that, looked at individually, may amount to little, but as a whole offers a body of knowledge that satisfies the questions we ask.

How much faith does it take to know God? A little. Enough to give me a little patience so that I can see the end of a thing. Enough to take a single step forward in the search for what God is - not a super genie offering wishes; not a white-robed grandfather-in-the-sky, but Light, Love, Truth. We need not take a second step until our faith be replaced with knowledge.

To all of you who have tried to make the leap and failed, many have done as you have done. But God does not require a leap into the dark. I hope that I can shine enough light on the trail to convince you only to take a tiny step toward whatever you may sense of Him who is Light. You don't have to take off your "atheist" sticker. You don't have to change your religion. You don't have to begin attending church. Just take a little step. Put yourself in a place where you could experience a God who who is Light, Love, Truth; the kind of God who makes stars and suns and trees and oceans and lions and puppies and people; the kind of God who is what he is no matter how much it hurts you OR him.

Faith doesn't mean deciding what God should do and believing sincerely that he will do it. It means knowing God well enough to be sure that what God does do is good, no matter how rotten it feels. There is a huge difference. Faith requires experience.


bjk said...

It means knowing God well enough to be sure that what God does do is good, no matter how rotten it feels.

amen and amen

kittykat said...

I also add my amen. Job, who was tried more than anyone I know, said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." I have faith in God, not because of what He says or does, but because of who He is. Because I see who He is, I cannot help but have faith in Him. I'm not saying it is easy and sometimes I fight because I cannot see, but when I remember what I KNOW of Him, then I can rely on Who He is.

joeyanne said...

Better a sword from the God who loves me than a loaf of bread from someone who cares not for my destiny.:)

Robert said...

solid meat here jenny amen and maen indeed not required to have the faith OF Jesus just to have mustard seed faith IN Jesus your heart is deeply caring loving and giving ty so much for how you share and seek to grow a li more and a lil more wanting us all to be right there with you