Friday, June 05, 2009

Thinking about faith.

In the online Biblestudy I'm doing with some of my friends we were invited to write down our definition of faith. (Link here to homepage of Biblestudy for those of you who have emailed and asked me about it. I think it's a good one!) I've shared my favorite definition here before, but think it bears repeating. I heard it several years ago and it's never left me. It says, "Faith is believing in advance that which only makes sense in reverse".
Read that through and let it sink in for awhile. It's really that good and true. Since I already have a definition that I think sums it up so well, I decided to think about and compose a short statement summing up what faith is to me. Here's what I've come up with:
"Faith is nothing until you find it's all you need" or "Faith is nothing until it's all you're holding on to".
I've really had my faith tried and tested and stretched and questioned and out of all of that, it's grown stronger, deeper and defined what I know to be true in this life and beyond than anything else ever had or could. Many of you know that I was a pastor's kid for most of the years as I was growing up and into college and beyond. I was "raised in the faith", you might say. I know more words and verses to hymns and Scripture than a lot of people I know. I can whiz right through the Bible category on Jeopardy. I get almost all the Bible crosswords right in Sunday paper puzzles. I have a lot of 'faith knowledge' in my head... although I also know there is a never-ending amount of theology and faith-based topics to debate and discuss and ponder that I could never fully understand it all. Even after all the years studying and learning about faith and the Bible and other religions, I feel I've barely scratched the surface most of the time.
However, all this knowledge does me no good unless it goes from my head to my heart and actually changes and/or affects the way I live. Just as someone could hold the cure to cancer in their head, it serves no purpose unless it is applied to the life of one who has the disease. In the same way, I have learned that for many years I understood what faith was, but I rarely needed to put it into practice in my life or let it "consume me". It was just there.
I think that happens to too many of us. We might think we know all the right answers. We might trust that we have faith and feel comfortable knowing that if anything "really bad happens", we have something to fall back onto. But the fact is faith is so much more than just having the right answer at the right time. It's not supposed to be just a security blanket we carry around and pull out when the going gets tough. Rather, a deep-rooted faith should be life-changing. It should guide and direct our steps and teach us to be patient when our heads and hearts are full of anxiety. It is real faith that gives us peace in the midst of life's darkest storms. It is faith in the unseen that allows us to have Hope when all else appears hopeless. Faith is also having Joy when there seems to be nothing worth singing or dancing about in our lives.
My faith is something that I have come to depend on every day. I used to think faith was about following a set of rules- a long list of 'do's and don't's that God handed down to us through the Bible". I'm glad I was wrong about my former definition of faith. I'm grateful that, even through life's hardest struggles, God has shown me faith isn't about what to do or what not to do, but rather it is His gift of assurance and Hope and promise to me to always be with me and to have my best interest at heart. God isn't holding a rolled up newspaper over my head waiting to use it when I mess up and fail to follow the rules right. No. God is waiting with arms open wide with a Plan for all our lives and a Hope for our eternal future- our sins have already been covered by the blood shed by His perfect son, Jesus, who died for everyone of us. There is nothing we can do to earn (or learn!) His favor. It's a gift to us, given freely, to those who choose to believe. And in so doing, we begin a life of building our faith and trust in Him that I have found, compares to nothing I ever had before.
Faith is so hard to put into words, and yet so worth the effort of trying. If I can ever encourage you toward a faith that matters in this world and beyond, it is my honor and privilege to do so. If you ever have questions about faith and if I can begin to answer them or share what I've learned, I am more than happy to do so. I feel like I've been so lucky, SO changed by what God has done and given to me through His grace. It's undeserved and yet something I'm thankful for every minute of every day. Without faith, I know my life wouldn't look the way it does. Without faith, I know I would be worthless;lost. Without faith, I know my future would be hopeless.
If I could have only one thing in this world, it would be my faith. And that's all I would need!

17 comments:

Lauren Kelly said...

This sooooo met me where I was at today! Thank you a million times over. I love ya, girl, and I mean that!

xoxo

Journey to Mia Lynn: said...

The most important element in life is faith; if God were to take away all His blessings--health, physical fitness, wealth, intelligence--and leave me with but one gift I would ask Him for faith. For with faith in Him and His goodness, mercy and love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could suffer the loss of all my other gifts and still be happy.

When my G-Gma passed, I made a photo book for my Mom of her G-Ma's life & of the Memorial service & such. Among the photos I included quotes & poems. The above was one such thing that I included.

When I read your post today, I wanted to share these words with you. I honestly at this point can't tell you where they originally came from. When working on the book for my Mom I got different ones from so many places.

Journey to Mia Lynn: said...

Oh, forgot...one more.

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe!

Adrienne said...

Jody! So great! And, for me, I wouldn't have the faith depth that I have if I hadn't had to come face to face with my biggest fear and then face to face with my Big God! I loved what you shared about the 'set of rules' because that has been on my heart so much lately. Jesus didn't come to reinforce a bunch of rules, He came to give us love unconditionally...the faith kicks in when we trust He wasn't lying when He said He loves us just the way we are!

Thanks for sharing your heart here! You are one amazing woman!
xoxox

Anonymous said...

I pray I can grow in my faith each day because I believe that it is our gift from God. Faith gives us that peace that can only come from Him. Thank you for sharing.

65 Roses for Marcia said...

Amen!!

Carolyn Ward said...

Amen.

I guess that was just said, but I'll post it anyway!

Jan said...

Beautifully said, Jody. You have such a way with words... God is using you, sweet sister! ;)

heidi said...

faith is everything. w/out it we'd be empty. well i would be. we have to be willing to give up our desire to control the outcome...whatever is to be is by God's grace.

you are so amazing and you always make me smile so i left you an award. thank for sharing!!!

Jan C. said...

Speaking of quotes about faith, here is my new favorite,"Faith is also having Joy when there seems to be nothing worth singing or dancing about in our lives."

Thanks for this--I'll be mulling it over as I go about my week!

the rye family said...

jodi - as of 6:05 a.m. MONDAY - little MISS APRIL is still holding on! :) WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

I loved reading your blog today. It has been so much fun making new friends through the blog world. This is my fourth month to have a blog. I am amazed at all the unique and fun sites. I am posting about our recent Disney trip and have a couple more posts about our visit with the "Mouse" ....then I will have more than a few posts about a new "grandson" arriving in just a couple of weeks...

Penny said...

You do have a way with words and you are also inspiring!

heidi said...

post by rye family...they messaged me from here. they are frauds according to blogger and so is April Rose.

i can't believe they had so many people praying for them. such deception to the Christian community.

wife.mom.nurse said...

These last 2 posts are so encouraging to me...

Faith...what are we without it.

Thanks for sharing from your heart as you always do.

~Julie

Anonymous said...

Jody, yes faith is believing in things that are not seen, but you know to be true, but "faith without works is dead." It is true without the Savior, there would be no way back to Him, but now that the Savior has shown us the way back to him, we are required to do his works if we want eternal life. Everyone will be resurrected, that is the free gift, but eternal life, life with God, is for those who try hard to do HIs will. When we mess up a way is provided for us to repent and start fresh, but again we have to do our part, repent, be sorrowful, try hard not to repeat sin. Christ provided a way back, he did his part, and is still doing his part, but we have to do our part. "faith without works is dead."

Anonymous said...

Believing is DOING or we don't believe. We can't just say, I believe, for if we believe, we live as Christ walked, talked, and taught. We need to be trying,that is the important thing. So many people think that all you have to do is say "I believe". You can't say you believe and then go out and eat, drink, and be merry. Believing is living as closely as you can how the Savior lived. Does it mean be perfect, absolutely not, or we wouldn't be living here on earth. We are here on earth to learn from our mistakes. We are here on earth to receive these physical bodies. We are here on earth to use our faith and do the things we know to be true, even if we can't see them. If we mess up, there's a plan in place: We repent, and do better. Remember the path is straight and narrow back to Him, and few there be that find it. Life is all about faith and doing!