Thursday, August 31, 2006

Faith

When you move faith outside the theoretical, it can get really tough.

The last several months have been a roller coaster experience for me.

I think I've learned some important lessons about faith. These lessons have been extremely concrete. . .not much place in this classroom for theory or speculation or debate. No Sunday School rhetoric allowed here!

Just great and small leaps separated by what appears to be important breakthroughs or set backs.

For example, over the last 6 months we have faced impossible odds, difficult situations and really hard problems with no certain or discernible solutions. In each case we have come face-to-face with a choice. Do we keep moving ahead, or trying to do so? Or, do we give up, stop, call it a game and go home?

Many of the dilemmas we've faced have brought us to the edge of just this sort of precipice.

We've learned to gather all the information available to us, work hard on homework assignments, talk to everyone and anyone who is interested, call in as many favors and gather as much support as possible from our community of interest.

Then, against whatever odds or doubts, we just jump.

Back to my lessons.

I've learned to flinch at success. That's because with every breakthrough we soon face a new, even larger and often unanticipated barrier, chasm or problem. This principle is inviolate. It happens every time.

I've learned that there are always new questions to ask. And, I can be sure someone will ask them. Most of these questions don't seem to have a self-evident answer and each sends us back to the drawing board or to the huddle for new investigation and strategies.

I've learned that most of our plans, estimates and expectations are about "a half bubble off plumb." Adjustments are the norm.

I've learned that nothing significant happens without trusted friends and close allies. . .nothing. Without trusted associates for whom you would gladly go to the wall and who end up again and again taking care of your back, nothing much worthwhile ever gets done.

I've learned that real faith in the real world, outside the theoretical, doesn't look much like what I was taught faith would look like. I've found that faith looks a whole lot like really hard work with lots of risk just built right into decisions that involve lots of money and the future of lots of people.

I've learned that faith means I don't get to be in control, feel in control or act like I even know what control means.

Faith is simply moving forward. . .no matter what.

Faith is what God expects me "to do" when I reach that place where I am always forced to leave the next "landing" completely up to someone else.

What a trip!

Please understand: no merit at all here. No room for arrogance or boasting! There have been far too many stupid mistakes, crazy ideas and examples of failure for anything like that! In this regard I am learning that faith is not about me.

Faith is just a decision about how to spend one's very limited time.

9 comments:

Mike Exum said...

Thanks for sharing your lessons. I will take them to heart in my life too.

Many blessings...

JD said...

Excellent thoughts, Larry. Faith is all talk until you have to take the next step and just trust that God's going to place something there for your foot to land on.

owldog said...

I love the "faith" steps Great way to start the morning and encourage me to "keep on walking"

krister said...

Barbara Brown Taylor has a great quote from The Preaching Life in a sermon called 'One Step at a Time.' She says, "Belief...is like a rope bridge over a scenic gorge, sturdy but swinging back and forth, with plenty of light and plenty of air but precious little to hold onto except the stories you have heard: that it is the best and only way across, that it is possible, that it will bear your weight." Thank you for your thoughts, Larry. They are an encouragement to me this morning. shalom!

DJG said...

It is one thing to write a definition of the word...it is another to live it out. Thanks for living it and expressing that it is not always "Blue Skies and Rainbows". We need to keep it real.

David Cook said...

Faith under fire is really when faith becomes defined in my humble opinion. As a minister in a church with a similiar outreach ministry I struggle with how to go from just handing out food to reaching them spiritually and really becoming involved in their lives. I am overwhelmed with preaching obligations and find myself constantly praying that God will raise up a ministry leader for this outreach. All the while I feel convicted that I should be doing more. Have I lost my passion for ministering to the unchurched? Lord I hope not...
God Bless,

MommyHAM said...

Larry-boy (sorry, I know you're old enough to be my father, but I have this tendency to nickname folks...and the veggie tale reference is hard to refrain from!)

You took the words straight outta my mouth!

Keep it up brother....

Anonymous said...

David, maybe you've begun to realize that preaching does not always involve words, and that its most powerful manifestations are in actions and lives lived.

JG

grace-marie said...

i like that. faith gets tough when it comes off the page and onto the side walk with us, that's for sure. your words have given me much to think about.

-ajei