Ways of Seeing Meditations: 2. It’s about faith
Heb 11:1 “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Recap: In the first of these studies, I noted a theme that I feel has been coming from heaven throughout lockdown: what have we learnt in this time, specifically what have we learnt about how we view everything as God’s children? This time has been a time of refreshing for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. We’ve been catching a fresh sense of who we are, who God is, and His resources that are open to us. We have also started becoming aware of the key fundamentals of our faith again. In the first study, we faced up to that very basic truth that this world is more than merely material, it is physical and spiritual and you and I as believers should be able to be those who can testify to the knowledge of the spiritual, our experience of it. And that brings us to the vital subject of faith.
Faith? Faith is a funny old thing; it’s all about seeing what cannot be seen. Faith comes from hearing God speak and is simply obedience to what He’s said, even if we don’t fully understand it or see how it works (try feeding a crowd with a couple of fish!). And the tricky thing is that we are called to, “live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7) We live by hearing (and believing), not by seeing. Faith says God is here with you and me now, listens to us, is for us, is the basis of all we are and do. That brings in a totally different ball game. But why is that sometimes so difficult?
The Material World Again: I’m afraid we have to go back to the previous study again where we observed the two primary causes of unbelief – the world of science as it is put to us to determine our thinking, and the world of technology that makes us interact with things, material things. Everything about our lives is, from a very young age, taught to us on the one plane – material. As a child we learn things about living but unless we go to a Sunday School (which is very rare today) we will hardly ever learn about God, Jesus and faith. Maybe every year at Christmas time we have Nativity Plays but increasingly they are filled with things that were not there in the original accounts, things that make it just seem a fairy story – unreal, untrue. And then increasingly, in the Fall, Halloween is made a big feature and ghouls, ghosts and goodness knows what are made normal, but in the so doing, they too are made unreal, just objects of fun. However, Halloween, according to Wikipedia, is supposed to be “the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed”, which could be a worthwhile exercise, yet it never is that. All of these things transform truth into myth. There is no room in the material world for anything ‘other’, says the world.
And Church? So there we are living in this incredibly material world, a material world given to us by God in whom He dwells. If He made it and gave it to us and gave us five senses to enjoy this physical world, we should not decry it but learn to enjoy it – with Him. Faith looks at flowers and thanks Him for them. Faith looks at all the wonderful things in the world and thanks Him for them. Faith looks at the bad things of the world and mourns for the Sin of the world as it realises that was not how it was originally and not how it will be one day after He has restored all things – a new heaven and a new earth. Faith perceives the big picture and thanks Him for it.
A Moving on World? While the rest of the world looks on in fear and trepidation when a virus brings the world to a halt, and then speculates as to how the future can ever return to anything good, faith knows that Jesus IS ruling in the midst of it all and is working to destroy all wrong things, things that are contrary to the design that he and his Father built into it at the beginning. (see 1 Cor 15:24-26) But those are ‘big things’ and in the meantime you and I have to live with the minutiae of life, the mundane things of everyday life. Is there room for faith there?
Moving on Faith: Faith believes God is there (Heb 11:6) and even more, “that he rewards those who earnestly seek him,” or, as the Message version delightfully puts it, “that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” So faith reaches out to Him. That is what the traditional ‘quiet time’ is, a putting aside time to quietly seek God, usually in the quiet and stillness of the early day, before all the hustle and bustle of the day imposes pressures and tensions upon us. The ‘quiet time’ resources the person of faith to handle those pressures and avoids the tension that can so easily be there. Faith that is exercised grows and becomes stronger. Faith is spiritual muscle and muscles need exercising.
Faith also knows that the Father is always working (Jn 5:17) and therefore the child of God will want to keep up with what He is doing (Jn 5:19, 14:12). Faith is not passive, not static, not inoperative; faith listens to the Godhead and flows with them. Faith means life changes, not at the whim of a virus, but at the instruction of God. Circumstances, with faith, take on new purpose and meaning, going with the flow of God who is purposefully working towards an end goal. There may be many stages in the process towards that goal and only He knows what they are. Faith hears and responds and steps into the next stage as He leads, and when for a moment or two there appears silence, trust takes over and peace reigns in the reliance that He is in charge and He is good, even if we cannot see it in this present day.