Wednesday, October 28, 2009

on joy

A wonderful friend gave me the book Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts a couple of years ago. This little book has ministered to my heart many times as I've read and re-read it. This week I read "The Healing Power of Joy" and really enjoyed this portion:
Bring Me your sorrow, and watch for the sunrise of the resurrection. Yes, truly there always comes a resurrection--a morning when hope is reborn and life finds new beginning. Wait for it as tulip bulbs anticipate the spring. The rarest of blooms are enhanced by the coldness of winter. The snow plays her part in producing spring's pageant. But when the blossoms break through, we do not then turn back to thoughts of winter, but instead, we look ahead to the full joys of the coming summer.
So you must do also. Your God is your maker. He is your defender. And He is mighty to save.

 I love the image of the most beautiful blooms being enhanced as they are by the coldest of winters. What a great hope that gives us for ourselves when we're find ourselves going through "cold" times! And Zephaniah 3:17 is my favorite verse of the Bible: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

When I looked up the book on Amazon I found that Frances has written multiple other books too, and think I just may need to go check out a few others as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

on faith

"Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits." (Dan Barker)

 There’s a problem with this statement, and it’s not just from a religious standpoint. The very definition of “faith” is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof (check out Webster’s Dictionary).

It is maddening, really, how simultaneously simple and complex the idea of faith is...believing in that thing which you cannot see, cannot feel, no questions asked, all doubts laid aside, having steadfast confidence—no matter what happens. How can something so simple—just believe—be so hard to grasp? No one can convince someone else to have that faith; they have to decide for themselves. A choice must be made to surrender all those unanswered questions and unknowns and uncertainties.

We cannot give up only some things and have true, all-encompassing faith and abandon in God. He doesn't ask for part of us, but for all of us. It's about giving up our "right" to anything and everything that we place value in—family, friends, lovers, dreams, goals, our very selves.

We ask whether or not the beauty of the world and the suffering of the world can truly come from the same hand. If they are from the same hand, we wonder what in the world God is thinking, and how He can truly be good and compassionate and loving. If they are not from the same hand, we wonder how God can truly be all-powerful, for if He was and He did not initially have his hand in our suffering, then why would he not intercede on our behalf and end it.

Believing—if only for a moment—that God does indeed exist and, in fact, has His hand in and on everything, we also have to believe in our own smallness, knowing that this universe is both complex and intelligible, and that He who fashioned such a world out of nothing might also be able to bring something beautiful out of all that is wrong. To envision a Godless universe—to strip away that intelligent being leaves nothing but a terrible and mindless force. What could be worse? Truly it comes down to that complex simplicity of faith—believing in such a God, believing in Him enough to know that He doesn't waste suffering, believing that when we are crying out to Him, our tears and prayers aren't falling into an empty void, but into a mind and power that ultimately and infinitely cares for us.

Folks like Mr. Barker have decided that God does not exist. There is no tangible proof of His existence, so it is foolish to have faith in God.

 Neither, however, is there tangible proof for His non-existence.

I love what Oscar Wilde says:

“Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.”

Wilde was not a religious person, but I think he struck gold here. There is nothing wrong with questioning our faith, whatever it may lie in. Asking honest questions and seeking the answers with open ears and an open mind will challenge us and strengthen our faith in the end.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome, October

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."

- Nathaniel Hawthorne -