(written February 4, 2008)
Let’s talk about Faith. This is a subject matter that I have had to deal with a lot lately and not only in my own ability to have faith but in being exposed to other people’s own challenges with having true, unconditional, open-minded faith. Merriam Webster defines faith as:
(1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
Although Merriam Webster is far from Gospel (in the very literal sense, that is), I do believe they have a point here: firm belief in something for which there is no proof. No proof. If you have actual, solid “earthly” proof and that is what you need to have Faith, then you really are not having any Faith at all. In fact, the very idea that some of us will claim Faith in something and then seek out proof of that thing already cancels out the claim that there is Faith in that thing. When someone seeks out an answer – a definite right-before-your-eyes answer – you are not practicing Faith. You are practicing your own earthly ability to try and control Faith.
Ideally, we as humans – we as Christians – should be able to ask God for answers, ask God for help, ask God to show you the way, then move on. Move on and continue living your life in the pursuit of being closer to God. That pursuit is a path and if you truly believe in God, you have no reason to get off of the path and revisit that prayer just to make sure God has answered it. Granted, you should continue praying and continue asking God for help but the quest for control should stop at that point. When you ask God for something, God WILL give you an answer and the last thing God needs is for you to micromanage his work and to make sure that he follows through on it. I think that is the greatest roadblock for us as Christians when it comes to our Faith. We tell ourselves we have Faith, we testify to others we have Faith, we declare to God we have Faith, but then we feel the need to remind God that we have given ourselves to him and, well, just in case he got busy and didn’t catch it the first time, we want to check back in and see what God is doing and if he has had the chance to get to your request. Is that the kind of Faith God really wants from us?
My current career revolves around everyone and their dog asking me or my team to complete tasks for them. All requests for projects come to me and I manage whether or not a project request is really what the requester needs and if it meets that requirement, I schedule it to be completed. If a project is deemed as unreasonable or not at all the solution to the challenge, I offer an alternative – sometimes more than one alternative – and once the requestor understands how the alternative is actually a better solution to their challenge, I see that it is completed. There are two types of requestors that I have to deal with on a daily basis: 1) Those who know what I can do and what my team does and simply request the projects and get on with their own businesses, knowing that by the date promised (often times sooner), that project will get completed without them ever having to check in on my team or stop by my desk every hour to check on the progress. 2) Then there are those who ask for a request, send emails all day long to me seeing where my team is on the request, calling my desk to make sure my team hasn’t forgotten about the request, pulling me out of meetings to make sure I have everything I need to complete the request, coming by my desk to make changes to the request, and sometimes, in the end, realizing the request was not what they needed after all and cancelling the request after dragging the timeline well past the original completion date and exhausting everyone else’s time, while asking for a new request to make up for their unsatisfied state with the previous request. Which one of those types do you think has gotten more 100% satisfaction from my team?
There was a time where I would ask God, after having prayed for something multiple times, why he hasn’t answered my prayer or what am I doing wrong that may be preventing the answer from coming to me. Those were not productive times for me. I made a lot of mistakes. I caused others to stumble from my own misinterpretation of what I thought was the truth. I did not have Faith. Although I am still no where near where I need to be, I have grown a lot since that time. I have realized that those times when I would challenge God and call him out to be accountable for where he did not help me, that all along, as I wasted his time with my inability to see the truth, that he did answer my prayers and he did give me what I needed. But just in a way that I was not expecting. And that was the problem, I made a request to God and I made an expectation of God and in doing so, if God did not answer my prayer the way I wanted it answered, then I assumed that he did not listen and was being unreasonable. How foolish I was? Granted, I know I am still only a foolish human being now but one that has a better idea of what Faith is and of what God expects from me, not vice versa.
Control. The ironic thing about “control” is that if you put control in the hands of a child, your car will steer off the road and possibly kill you and everyone else in the car. You cannot allow an immature being to be in total control of any complex machine because that being will not know what to do if that machine goes awry and not function the way the being expects it to. Life is the most complex machine we as humans will ever know in our mortal state. You may be able to train yourself to better drive that car straighter on the highway or better guide that paint brush more smoothly onto the canvas but not a single one of us will ever be able to fully control Life. Even with the ability to steer a car perfectly between the broken white lines on the highway, all it takes is another car with less control to cause the both of you to go careening over the edge of the cliff into a fiery explosion of pure chaos. You can control aspects of your life but do you really have total control of it? And if not, how you can you even pretend to think you can control others’? And do you really want to? How many “others” would you have to control in order to make sure that this life goes the way you think it is supposed to? And what happens if someone else’s idea of “supposed to” contradicts yours? The only real control that we can perfect that will guarantee perfect results every time is Faith. If we can completely, entirely put our Faith in God and at that point, let go of “control”, things will be running a lot smoother than they have ever run in the past.
Human beings from day one have always had the wonderful ability to be unpredictable. The awesome power of freewill has always been a blessing but because we are humans and we are not God, that very blessing has given us the ability to make it into a curse. When God created Man, he created a beautiful thing. Far more beautiful than any other creature or object that he had ever created. Here is a being that not only eats and sleeps like any other animal, and loves and pleases like other animals…this being can choose not to do any of those things. God could have made us where we would merely exist and go through our routines like fish do or dogs or deer but he had already done that. He already made cats, he already made trees. Would it really have been that spectacular for God, after creating hermit crabs and dolphins and rabbits and moray eels to have created Man if he merely existed on this Earth as a reactive creature? Well, yes, because God would have created it and it would have been good. But God, the almighty Creator, is a creative person. After creating the duck-billed platypus, it was time to create something even more awesome. And the one element that made Man so much more awesome than a mammal that lays eggs was to create a creature that could think for itself and have the freewill to decide not to do the things God created him to do. Man was a perfect creation. Man was not perfect.
And being not perfect, any idea that Man creates can be flawed. This does not mean that we cannot come up with great ideas. We have. It was through the use of Man’s mind that we were able to utilize electricity to power whole nations. It was through Man’s use of his fleshly brain that we are able to fly from one country to another. It was through Man’s ingenuity that we can pinpoint the exact point when a single strand of DNA can determine what color our eyes will be. But it was this same Man that was able to use the same mind that created all of these wonderful advances in science that we were able to create an atom bomb and make the decision to drop it on Hiroshima. With this knowledge, does this not seem logical that any idea that Man comes up with can be questioned? Asking this question, does it not dispel any reason to have faith in Man and put us in a depressing state of how can I trust anyone? Not really. It is true. Man and Man alone cannot be trusted. You cannot have faith in Man because Man is flawed and Man at his own devices will fail you every time. So, yes, one cannot trust Man. But one can trust God. One can definitely have Faith in God. So when we question ourselves or others in our lives, we do not need to ask ourselves, “Can I trust him to do right?” or “Can I have faith in her to be true?” but ask, “Is God in his life” and, “Is she listening to God?” because although we cannot have faith in Man alone, we can have Faith in Man with God.
My wife recently told me about how her science professor made it quite clear in class that God had no place in science. I respect that. I recently heard the phrase, “Where science ends, God begins.” This makes sense. Science has never been (shall I go as far as to say) an exact science. But God has always been an exact God. You cannot switch the phrases around: Where God ends, science begins. This cannot be true because God does not end but science does. Where would we be today if we merely accepted the “science” that the earth was flat? Or if we accepted the “science” that removing “bad blood” from the sick can heal them? Yes, compared to today’s standards, those claims seem ridiculous but isn’t just as likely that the “science” that we believe in today can be just as ridiculous 100 years from now? Heck, it is most likely some of the reports we read in highly recognized science journals today will be completely ludicrous a week from now. Science is also a creation of Man and because Man is flawed, so is science. Having said that, how can I have faith in science? I cannot. But I can have Faith in God because you cannot disprove God.
These days I have been more at peace with myself. More than I have been in a long time. And I understand why. For years I have been trying to be in complete control of my life and in complete control of the world around me but I realize now that I am Man and Man is not perfect. It takes a perfect person to be able to control this world and the only one that fits that bill is God. I am not God. I am no where near being God. And because of that, I cannot, at my own devices, make myself right. I cannot, in my own control, help make others right. I am in no place, on my own, to justify my actions or judge others’. But I can, with the help of God – a lot of help, desire to be perfect. And because I know that I am Man and that Man cannot be perfect, the only way I can get as close as I possibly can be to being what cannot be physically accomplished on this earth is to have Faith.