I don’t feel qualified to write about faith. I’ve never walked on water. Never faced a cave full of ravenous lions. Never led an outnumbered army into an impossible battle.
But it seems like I’m always writing about it. Always coming back to it. Maybe because it’s one of the things I struggle with most.
I used to think I was great at having faith. I’m usually a pretty positive person, even after going through (and being in the midst of) some difficult times. But I don’t think faith and optimism are the same thing. At least, I don’t anymore.
Faith is both the easiest act in the world and one of the hardest. It’s as simple as saying, “I believe.” It’s as complicated as believing in something when everything about your life tells you it might not be worth believing in.
People sometimes tell me to have more faith. But I don’t understand how to have more faith. It seems to me that I either trust God or I don’t. The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). What if I trust God to move mountains, but not even anthills budge? And what if that happens again and again?
“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
I come back to this every single day. I don’t understand it. Don’t know how both belief and unbelief can exist within me at once. But they do. I’ve figured out that I can’t do this faith thing alone. Just like with forgiveness, with love, it is always and only by the power of God at work in my life that I can ever have faith. True faith, at its core, must always come back to the Object of that faith, the One looked to in belief.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.”
Paul says those whose minds are blinded to God are perishing, but those whose minds are unveiled see God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Like the serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness, which the people of Israel looked upon to be saved from death, Jesus said He would be lifted up to be looked upon and believed in so that those who did so would inherit eternal life (John 3:14-16).
Faith is looking, seeing, lifting up your eyes—in the process unveiling your mind—to behold… what?
The writer of Hebrews says, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Jesus says those who do not see and yet believe are blessed (John 20:29).
The truth is, when I look to Jesus, I can’t physically see anything. So what am I supposed to be looking at? How can I look at what I cannot see? This is the act of believing. This is faith. It is beautifully simple and frustratingly incomprehensible.
Faith is not imagining. It’s not a trick of your subconscious. It’s setting your sight upon a certain hope, an unseen reality.
Seeing spiritual realities is a struggle for us humans, with our minds darkened by sin. The intangible eludes us. Or we ignore it.
But, Paul says, “it is the God who commanded light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
God gave us His word and Himself, the greatest lights and the truest realities. Granted, when you open your Bible, it doesn’t go all Night at the Museum on you and come to life. And Jesus is not physically here with us at this time in history. Even the clearest signs of eternity are somewhat intangible to us at the present time. They require faith.
Through Christ, though, we can look forward to this eternal life, defined by knowing Him (John 17:3). Even now, on this earth, we get glimpses of who He is. We may not see with our eyes, hear with our ears, or touch with our fingers His concrete nature, but we are given what we need to believe in a day when we will.
Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
It’s a dirty mirror, extra blurry at times. And it’s just an image, just a representation of the real thing. We gaze, but do not yet fully see.
Tozer says, “When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.”
This is what we are looking for. To be face to face with our Lord. To look out and find Him looking in. I look up at God, believing He is looking back at me. But for all my looking, I don’t usually catch His eyes with mine. That is part of faith, I think. Part of the temporal nature of this world. While this mirror is dim, I have to look up and trust that He sees my eyes. Now, I only see in part, only know in part.
BUT THEN I shall know just as I also am known, shall see just as I also am seen. One day, my faith will no longer need to exist because the Object of my belief will be before me in all His glory. My hope will no longer need to exist because the Promise of all desires to be met will be satisfied. One day, I will look and see His eyes meeting mine. I will know God as I am known by God. And there will dwell love.
Faith and hope are crucial, and will serve me well during these dark days, but when light overtakes all, love is what will remain. There is no more need for faith or hope. Love is faith fulfilled, hope fulfilled. These two will continue in this sense, but in their very fulfillment they take on new definitions overtaken by Love. Love will be the looking and beholding, the unmarred meeting of our gaze. Love will be the light. Love will be the cry of our hearts. Love will be the nature of our existence, the all-encompassing substance of our presence with God and one another. Love will outlast all (1 Corinthians 13:13), because it will be all we need when our Love is right before us.
Thoughts? Questions? Theological rebuttals? Leave a comment below.