Thursday, October 13, 2005

Faith

I want to talk a little bit about faith today. The Bible says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for...the evidence of things not seen".

What does that mean? For me faith in God is a vital part of my everyday life. I believe that God will prevail through whatever circumstances arise. Everyone has faith. Maybe you have faith in science. Maybe you have faith in evolution. Maybe you have faith in your own abilities. Maybe you have faith in our government.

We all have faith. The question is whether what we have faith in is something that will last beyond tomorrow. Science changes daily, so it's hard to put too much faith in that. Evolution has too many holes in it to be taken seriously. Having faith in your abilities is a great thing but where did those abilities come from? Having faith in our government is dicey because the people in charge change so often.

I decided a long time ago that my faith was best placed in something that is never changing, and eternal. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the same God who is in charge today. His Word gives us a guidebook to help us through life's challenges and the direction we need to find a better way to live.

My faith was tested recently when someone very close to me, who had a dynamic relationship with the Lord, died. She was the most amazing person I've ever known. She would help anyone in need, even if that person had just slapped her in the face. She was brave beyond words. Even in her last days she was more concerned with other people than she was with her own situation.

When my aunt died of this horrible disease after fighting it for 12 years I had a crisis of faith. Here is a woman who served God faithfully for many years and yet he allowed her to be consumed by this plague.

I don't know why God chose to take her the way he did. Honestly, I still struggle with a certain amount of anger, both towards God and towards some of the people in her life who made her last few years much harder than they should have been. There are times when something will remind me of her and I get furious with God all over again. I wonder why he would let her suffer so much, both physically and emotionally.

I've come to understand a couple of things through this that I didn't really get before.

Number one. The passage in the bible that says that God will not burden us with more than we can carry has taken on a very different meaning for me. I always thought it meant that God wouldn't give us any more trouble than we could deal with. Now I think that's only partly true. God will give us only what we are capable of doing in order to carry out his plan. In my aunt's case, she was capable of carrying more than most, so he put more on her. The result, in my opinion, was more difficulty in this world, but a great reward in the next.

Number two is something the pastor at my church mentioned one of the very first times I visited there. Almost in passing during his sermon he said something about how once we've reached that point where there's no more room to grow, nothing more to learn from this world...that's when God takes us. I believe that's what happened with my aunt. She had reached as many people as she could, done as much for the Lord as was possible. So he took her home.

In the end, my faith is stronger for having known my aunt, and even stronger for having watched how she handled death.

In closing, I want to leave you with the last verse of an old Ray Boltz song. Every time I hear it, it reminds of what my aunt was, and what I aspire to be...

One by one they came
as far as the eye could see
each life somehow touched
by your generosity
little things you had done
sacrifices made
unnoticed on the earth,
but in heaven, now proclaimed

And I know up in heaven,
you're not supposed to cry.
But I'm almost sure,
there were tears in your eyes.

When Jesus took you by the hand,
and you stood before the Lord,
and he said...

My child look around you...

For Great is your reward.