WHY I HAVE FAITH
My Grams kept a statue of Praying Hands next to her bed. Alongside it was a well-read Bible with bookmarks, church programs, newspaper clippings and greeting cards marking significant verses or passages. When I was five or six years old I asked why she had the statue. She told me that it reminded her to read the Bible, pray every day and to have faith. I didn’t know what faith was. She explained that it was trusting God as I trusted my parents to love and take care of me.
All that did not make a lot of sense at the time. Grams told my sister and I that she prayed for us every day. She had faith that God would draw us to Him. My Grams had a deep well of faith despite the hardship of raising five children alone on a farm during the Depression and sending two sons to war.
What is faith? Definitions range from, ‘complete trust, a conviction of truth, or confidence in someone or something’ to ‘strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on assurance or divine persuasion rather than proof’. In Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) faith is described as… “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Faith is nebulous. It is part hope, part trust and a willingness to believe in something that may or not be there. Faith is a gift from God.
The stories of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) and the bleeding woman (Mark 5:21-34) demonstrate the power of faith. The centurion asked Jesus to heal his suffering, paralyzed servant. Jesus offered to go to his home to heal him. However, the centurion replied, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed”. The woman with the bleeding knew that if she just touched the edge of the Messiah’s cloak she would be healed. Both heard reports of Jesus’ healing powers. They had not seen them yet deep in their souls they knew Christ could do what they asked.
Trust however, is a sense of confidence and reliance on people, situations, organizations and our own resources and efforts. Trust is an action word and based upon a prior experience we use to form an opinion, decision or choice. We learn to trust God over time with experience and practice.
The prayers of my grandmother, her faith in a responsive loving God help pave the way to my salvation. Confusion about God crept in when my 14 year old sister died after a battle with cancer. My parents were lost together in worry, grief and pain. My best friend’s family surrounded me with nurturing and love as I was led to Jesus during that difficult, live changing year. I was given a faith that God knew what He was doing even if I didn’t. And that He had plans to give me hope and a future despite my grief and loneliness.
During my rebellious college years I turned away from God. I sought comfort and acceptance in the ways of the world. My life was self-centered. I hurt those I loved by my self-destructive behavior. I believed there was a god, but I searched Eastern philosophies to find a god more responsive to what I thought I needed and to ‘my truth’.
Jesus seeks us. As the parable with the lost sheep, I was pursued. Early one morning I sat on a beach asking, ‘Jesus are you real?’ As the sun was rising over a mountain, light brilliantly reflected on the gray ocean waters. That light brought a profound peace and calm to my soul. I have no idea how much time passed but when I opened my eyes, I knew the truth. The gift of faith God had given me years before was renewed.
Even though the path and the outcomes in my life have not been what I expected, my confidence, trust and faith in God has deepened. I learned and accepted that He truly is protecting, guiding and yes, correcting me along the path He planned for me. Therefore I have faith. He is here now. Call on Him, listen, wait and He will answer.
Lord, thank you for your gift of faith. Open our hearts to your will and the faith to obey you. Guard us from doubt and remove unbelief. Protect us from the temptation and deception of the evil one. Help us encourage others in your love, and faithfulness. To God be the glory! Amen.