Image by Lisa Caroselli from Pixabay

I remember a time, many, many years ago, when, as a young man seeking to know God, I was walking through an airport having a conversation with God. I was lamenting to God that all this prayer and Bible study and church didn’t seem worth it, since I wasn’t completely sure God even existed. So I took a big chance and said to God, “If you will prove to me that you exist, then I will believe in you.” Almost immediately, I experienced hearing God say within my head and my heart, “No Coe, if you will believe in me, then I will prove to you that I exist.”

In John 7:17, Jesus says, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God…” I think that Jesus is saying roughly the same thing in the Gospel of John that God said to me in the airport.

God always takes the first step of loving us—unconditionally. But then God asks us to respond with the step of faith. And faith always includes some mystery, some unknowing, and a conscious decision to believe anyway. As beloved member of Grace, Port Townsend, Neil Potthoff used to say, “If there wasn’t any mystery, it wouldn’t be faith!”

Faith is trusting. Faith is acting as if it is all true. As one of my favorite Christian authors Philip Yancey (see below for more information on Yancey) explains, “Jesus presents the journey of faith as a personal pilgrimage begun in uncertainty and fragile trust.” But as fragile humans, prone to doubt and skepticism, we would really like God to prove himself to us, to give us undeniable experiences of God’s presence, so that we feel it in every cell in our being. Then, we will believe—perhaps.

But God and faith don’t seem to work that way. First, we respond to God’s love, making the conscious choice to believe, and then we find in the most amazing ways, that it is all true. Yancey continues, “For me, the life of faith sometimes consists of acting as if the whole thing is true. I assume that God loves me infinitely, that good will conquer evil, that any adversity can be redeemed, though I have no sure confirmation and only rare epiphanies to spur me along the way.” As we act as if it is all true, gradually, bit-by-bit, we discover that indeed it really is true. Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!

The ancient writers St. Anselm and St. Augustine explained essentially the same idea. They wrote, “For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand.” In my words, the conscious choice comes first and understanding follows as a gift from God.

Let me close with another favorite author, Frederick Buechner, who wrote, “Faith is not being sure where you’re going, but going anyway.”

Commit your way to the Lord, friends. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…and he will make your paths straight” (Pro. 3a, 6b).

God bless you,
Coe

Philip Yancey – One of my favorite Christian authors is Philip Yancey. I consider him a faithful dispenser of God’s grace. I have read many of his books, some of them twice. One of my favorites is his daily devotional titled Grace Notes. I am currently reading it for the second time. There are many days that I read the entry and find that it deeply resonates with me and I think to myself, “I need to blog about that.” So today, that’s just what I did. Today’s blog is based on Yancey’s daily devotion for June 23 in Grace Notes.