Three weeks before I wrote “Faith,” the most recent post here on Common Life, Jennifer and I saw an ultrasound room’s light flick on, the machine shut down, and the picture you see above land in our hands. A week after I wrote “Faith,” we returned to the same room, the light was kept off for several minutes, and no picture was printed from that day.
Faith is confidence in the ability of some external power, namely God, to bend all things toward some better end than what naturally occurs. It is openness to—and ultimately, dependence upon—the ways and wisdom of God as a new power for daily living. It is the vital connection to life and reality itself while all things within and without would drift toward wreckage and ruin.
My confession is that Jesus is the one who satisfies faith as I described it. I confess that the purpose of life is not to forestall death, prolong life, pursue pleasure, or find myself, as it were. In every effort to find myself, I have found myself more mystified and alone, more helpless and undone. I have needed some trustworthy word from an outside source to find me under the heap of ill-fitting clothes I’ve worn. I have needed a new source of power for daily living and the healing of relationships. Even suffering and loss and terrible disappointment can push me toward the satisfaction of my faith, which is a tree rooted in my chest somewhere safe from storm and fire. Because Jesus is Lord over all such forces, in the great and terrible and awesome wisdom of God, they are at times permitted to pass into our lives for the express purpose of getting us closer to the unending and overflowing life that is accessed in Jesus. They are given just enough power to be rendered powerless in achieving their own intended ends. Faith in Jesus is the great subversive conspiracy against the march of sin and death. This is a mystery I don’t claim to fully understand, but I have lived with Jesus long enough to trust Him.
I have faith that Jesus does such things better than all rivals, and that Jesus alone responds to this universal problem with the healing we seek. Amen.