Monday, April 25, 2011

A Friend's Faith

A journey of faith through the valleys and mountains of a husband's stroke. Every day, signs of hope, and then signs of setback, too.

What has touched me so deeply is her easy integration of faith and church into the ordeal. Faith soars and plummets, like a swift in flight. Church and prayers and friends and concerts hold her soul together, and often bring tears. There's a level of comfort here that speaks of a mature faith nurtured over the years, with good theology and Bible and steady patterns of worship.

She's what some would call a "mainline" Christian.

As I write and think about her faith, I reflect upon something that has bothered me for years - the need of so many "evangelicals" to prove the "power" of their god and the "miracle-working wonders" of their faith. Frankly, it's all talk, and mutual hype - a lot of fury to keep the illusions going.

No wonder evangelicals are up tight. It's tough to maintain a false front of hope and victory and courage and smiles and Jesus talk. Anyone who raises a question is shouted down. Those who express doubt are labeled "backsliders." Writers and preachers who question the standard lines of thought are treated as "heretics."

How much better when nothing needs proving, because of Christ Jesus.

The cross and the tomb, his wisdom and his love, and the mystery of the resurrection - what else is there to prove?

Why must Christians always be proving their faith? Is this some kind of competitive one-upsmanship? What's the point?

For my friend, the journey through these demanding days is as natural as breathing - in and out, up and down, good and bad, fear and faith, hope and sorrow, friends and family and church and sacred concerts and hymns and sermons.

I'm grateful to share a bit in my friend's journey, through her postings, and the musings of her children. They hope for the best; fear for the worst. They're flesh and blood, as we all are. And mortal, too. Dadgum it all!

Faith, if it's faith at all, is not some cosmetic heavily layered on to hide wrinkles and blemishes. Faith is something deep within, something that understands and welcomes the foibles and failings of mortal flesh, even as we rejoice in the wonder and glory of God's love for us.

We have nothing to prove to the world, because God has already done that, and continues to prove to the world through sunrise and sunset and pot luck dinners and preachers struggling to proclaim the word and little old ladies with blue hair and children and grandchildren singing hymns and organs and pianos and love divine and folks who strive for justice and folks who dream big dreams for a better world.

Nothing to prove, so that we can be at peace with who we are and the way life is.

Nothing to prove, so that we can live amidst the hopes and tears of real life.

Nothing to prove, so that we can love fiercely and deeply and powerfully, and cry, as well, when the darker moments come to us.

Nothing to prove.

And everything to live.

And to God be the glory.

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