"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." -- St. Augustine

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Faith Like a Child

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."
-- J.R.R. Tolkien
Faith. My pastor gave an amazing message yesterday morning on that subject. Based on Hebrews 11, he noted that the definition of faith today is vastly different than the definition 200 years ago. Faith today is all about feeling, all about emotion. Our faith is flimsy, dependent on the events and people that surround us. Faith according to Hebrews is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." In that context, one can argue the idea that faith is not about feeling or emotion, because with this kind of faith we have no attachment or connection to the object of our faith outside of trusting and believing the God of the universe cares. As Jason Ostrander put it, "We serve the God who spins galaxies on one hand, but on the other, is intimately concerned about our afternoon." It is incredible how much faith it takes to believe that the God who created the universe, who molded the stars and put the planets in motion, is so concerned about our small problems.

I read a book titled, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek. It was one of the most challenging reads of my life and really spoke on how much more faith it requires to believe in the non-existence of God than it takes for us to believe in the existence of God. Do we really exercise that faith though? Jesus constantly referenced faith in the Bible as childlike. Children constantly have faith in their parents that they will do what's best for them, that they'll give them the food they need. Children also have amazing faith in the Lord. I've heard countless stories of the most impossible situations imaginable and a child giving the most profound, trusting and believing answer that God will heal or provide. We practice faith everyday in the world around us. We exercise faith that when we turn on a light switch, the light will come on. We exercise faith when we sit down in the chair to eat dinner, it will support us. We exercise faith that when the stoplight turns red, the other cars will stop as you proceed through the intersection. All small amounts of faith required for the littlest things in our lives.

As we proceed into 2011, I find myself asking the question -- do I have childlike faith? Do I have that kind of faith that says even when the road darkens, I will not abandon my course? Entering 2011, I pray that I have the kind of faith that always believes, always hopes, and always trusts. "Hope does not disappoint us." We may doubt, but when doubt gets in the way of our faith and hope, it is then the problem arises.

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time." --Oswald Chambers

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Opportunities, and a New Roller Coaster

It's January 1, 2011. This new year brings new opportunities as well as new chances to better myself in keeping this blog up to date. I must admit, I am not the best at staying on top of this little technological journal of sorts, but one of my New Years resolutions is to be better at it.

I found myself last night mulling over the past year. I shook my head as I realized how different this year is starting than last year. If I could describe this past year using some sort of metaphor, I would have to use the idea of a roller coaster. I love roller coasters. I love the ominous click, click, click as the cars climb higher and higher up the track drawing closer and closer to the top before the seemingly endless free-fall from the top. The plummet from the top always leaves me breathless, heart-racing, but screaming for more. Terrified does not even cover the emotion as I feel my body pushing against the straps and bars which are the only thing keeping me inside the little metal box I'm flying around the track on. However, along with that terror, I must admit I'm a little bit of a thrill junkie. I love the roller coasters that throw its victims in all sorts of directions and then start them on the slow climb to the top. Once at the top, it drops a short drop before evening out only to psych the riders out throwing down a total almost 90 degree free-fall. As the riders look around them, everything is a blur except for what is ahead.

I sat last night considering the past year. A year ago, I was packing up ready to head back to Minnesota to see my boyfriend. I had strapped myself into the 2010 roller coaster and little did I know the ominous click, click, click had started. I didn't see the free-fall ahead, but only focused on the view from the climb up. I believe John Mayer said it best in his song "Heartbreak Warfare" -- "How come the only way to know how high you get me is to see how far I fall." I reached the top only a short month into 2010, and plummeted into a death-defying free-fall. Looking back, I don't think I thought the plummet would ever end, but just as I reached the bottom, things evened out for a while. I spent the end of my semester enjoying friends and trying to see what was ahead for me, trying to forget what was behind. Granted I had a few ups and downs in between, but I survived my freshman year of college.

I spent the summer living in Minnesota (see "It Became Home") and loved every minute of it. It was during the first month living away from home the second set of click, click, click started, only this time I was some-what prepared. I hopped on a plane and jetted off to Sibiu, Romania for two weeks with my best friend. The first part of the inevitable free-fall left me breathless. Things I hadn't dealt with came screaming back at me as I plummeted toward the bottom which came sooner than I thought. After spending the first week of the trip letting God deal with me, I climbed to the top once again and then actually enjoyed the third major plunge to the bottom, loving on dozens of orphans and under-privileged girls. As I pulled out of the free-fall, I found myself laughing with a smile plastered on my face as I screamed, "again! again!"

The summer finished with no major incidents, it just flew by with a few ups and downs to keep things interesting. I arrived back on my beloved campus of Crown for Welcome Weekend, which was a joy. It was during that time I also decided to go back out for soccer. Click, click, click -- the sound I failed to hear as I jumped head first into the semester. POP -- the sound will forever be ingrained in my memory. On September 1, my competitive soccer career was laid to rest as I tore my ACL in my first soccer game, 12 seconds in (my only competition to better that record might be Chad Greenway of the Vikings his first season, but that's another story...). I spent the season on the bench and on crutches. I had surgery on October 14 and since then, it's been a slow climb to the top. Rehab, homework, work and other assorted things have kept me busy and anticipating the next God-filled free-fall.

No matter what happened. God seemed to be right there with me during the free-fall. He sat next to me, laughing, crying, holding my hand as I wished for the end of the ride. Every part of this past year has been a blessing. The friends I made, the relationships I built, the love and loss I felt, it was all part of His grand plan. As I strap myself into the 2011 roller coaster, I am looking forward to the first plummet, knowing He'll stand right by me as I take the plunge into His will again and again.