Friday, November 20, 2015

And it Will Move: Faith in an age where anything else will work

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." 
-Matthew 17:20

I just created this new card for my shop, and thought it would be a timely occasion to write a little something that has been on my heart about faith.

To me, and to the people I surround myself with who uphold and strengthen me in my faith, faith is not the following: it is not blind. It does not diminish the ability to be logical or reasoning. It has less than nothing to do with a design on a Starbucks cup. It is not about asserting truth in words, but living truth in life. It does not happen only in a church- it happens in every single breath; it is not a religion, it is a perception.

It is not a belief in a half-formed, distant God whose hand I hold to save me from suffering. It is not a way of thinking I have chosen to adopt which causes me to discredit or fail to empathize with people who don't think the same way or see the same thing.

Faith is: a larger-than-life belief in the Biblical word of God discerned by both my intellect and spirit, the ability of myself as one created by God to believe in and rely on Him above all other propositions of spirituality (again, while remaining loving and completely tolerant of those who don't share it, are still looking for it, or even who have turned against it). 

Faith is the actual reason I make art. It is the reason I sit down and take time to write. Truly and honestly, there would be no way I would be an artist if I weren't first a Christian: someone who believed in who I was from the true soul of my being, rather than from outside impressions that the world constantly and repetitively makes on all of us.

Anything that informs my identity as a human being is grounded first in the belief that the God of the universe knows who I am, and has made me for a purpose. That's the starting point of all action.

Because faith points me to who I really am and what I'm really worth, to the things that keep me present and alive.

It is the primary reason I recently quit my job to follow what my soul was made for, not to be enslaved to the industriousness that the world demands and that the majority mostly pursues. There are no guarantees in life with faith or without it, of course: but it is the thing that enables people to cast worry and anxiety away without thinking or coming up with reasons why we don't need to worry. Our minds can manage and navigate around the bondage of thoughts that create worry; only knowing the Lord can break them. 

I can honestly say I never imagined the lack of fear that happens without even trying- just as a byproduct of knowing the Lord and seeking Him first

If a person truly believes that there is a loving, amazing, awe-inspiring Creator who has orchestrated not only the creation of everything but the creation of them, they should be both truly humbled and certainly fearless, unshakable, convicted, secure, and free from the opinions of other people. 
God's economy is as different from what seems wise or good to us as a mother's agenda is different from her ten-year-old child's: she has a perspective that is infinitely bigger than the child's- and she is right, regardless of whether the child genuinely believes the opposite. (And he usually does.)

We can consider the child, truly too young and unformed to see the purpose its guardian would have for withholding him from his desires or redirecting his actions. This is God with us all the time: a million steps ahead, leading us from a place of total guidance, wisdom, and freedom that we often cannot see at all. 

When we step out in faith and we see that this is the way God works with us, we become intimate with a way of operating through life that is beyond intellectual, beyond logical, beyond intuitive even- it can be all these things, but it is even bigger than that. It requires all of us, all of our lives, not just our Sundays; it requires our hearts to be still in God alone consistently and over time.

That's faith too: getting life this way, so much so that faith is ultimately all we want and all we know we truly need. 

Faith is what happens when we know we need to move ahead or change direction in some way, and we can't see the whole path. It's the positive instinct in that initial moment of knowing: do I pursue love, even though I don't know what the path will look like? Or do I let fear win, staying the same because I'd rather have control over a stagnant situation than freedom in an unfamiliar one?

Faith in the Lord teaches us, is our template, for faith in everything else- including our selves, our lives, and our worth. It is a humble approach to life that can (and I think should) inform our morality and our intellect; that teaches us what the world desperately needs much more of: an ability to actually care for others without the very human instinct for personal gain or profit. We talk a lot about compassion and love in the world today, and how much we need it, but it's not truly obtainable outside of understanding to Whom we really belong. 

When God is all we really need, when we realize a satisfaction and peace beyond all worldly understanding, we have neither the time or desire for coveting things that we know won't satisfy us nearly as wholly as Him: money, status, approval, even happiness.

If we believe the current and comfortable proposition that our lives belong to us, we want, as we want with anything that we believe 'we possess' or 'is ours,' to covet and own that thing: to have control over it, to claim it as our own; it creates an absence of freedom. Faith says the exact opposite, something much less popular but much more truthful: I am not my own. I belong to God. This life is not about me- it is about Him. 

Life is just life without God, the same way a painting is just a painting until we learn to look at it a certain way and let it inform us about the qualities of the artist who made it. There's a whole other story in that perception. The painting, or our lives, is simply a derivative of something much, much bigger- and it is that bigger thing that contains truth and meaning.

The story of what my life is worth does not depend only on what I do with my time on earth: it depends also on how well I understand what God has already done on earth through Christ, the way He has intervened to free us from not only the world and its brokenness, but from ourselves, from our own thinking- the worst bondage of all. 

What faith really desires is the realization of what believers understand God wants from us here on earth: the contentment, love, joy, and well-being of every human being we touch and meet through a deep trust in the Father, which manifests in how we show love and not how well we talk about the Gospel, claim a right religion, or point people to us as a standard of love and joy rather than Jesus. 

What faith really manifests as is a fearlessness and un-agitated peace-of-mindedness that actually comes from a supernatural, deeply spiritual awareness of the Spirit of God working in every aspect of our lives (career, relationship, friendship, personal, emotional, intellectual) and not from our own meditations, thinking, or success strategies.

What faith really is is a belief that there are be bigger things than doubt, and through God, we can accomplish any task- the most important of which is moving through this world with no fear of heart, and giving the glory of how that can be to God, not ourselves.

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