28 Jul 2011

What does it mean to have faith?

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Faith is not like a single cube-shaped building block sitting on a shelf by itself. Faith is more like a cloud that has a vague shape and almost imperceptable edges. When you try to define concepts like faith, integrity, perseverence, truth you will find that they all overlap one another Each one is a part of the others. Instead of being able to clearly define each one separetly (like setting up building blocks), it's more like trying to stack clouds on top of each other. There is a core component in the middle of each cloud, but it's hard to determine where one concept ends and the other begins.

As an example, we'll look at just one of thse concepts, perseverence is very much connected with faith. If you try to separate one from the other, each one becomes quite useless. i.e. what good is perseverence if you don't have a purpose or a goal in mind. Faith gives you that purpose and goal. Faith gives you the thought that there is something of value to be obtained or achieved. "There is something out there that is of great value."

Now, if you were to try to isolate faith by itself, it too would become useless. What would the point of "believing" that something was possible if you didn't work trough the countless details and if you didn't have perseverance to keep on going and never quit.

You can't truthfully say, "I have faith so I've got it made". Faith is not an isolted component in our lives. Faith is usually connected to some process. You can say, "I have faith that God will provide for me." That faith is coupled with your efforts to work hard and to provide for the needs of yourself and your family. If you use your "faith" as an excuse to sit around and be lazy, while claiming to have faith, you are lying to yourself and to others..

Our faith is not supposed to be static. If you say that you have faith, but then you don't do anything to work through to the completion of the object or goal of your fiath, then you supposed faith is meaningless. "Faith without works is dead." James 2:17

In much the same way, you can say, "I have faith in God", but what does that mean? Faith in God is not a single component that means we are therefore special and don't need to do anything else. God has a purpose here on earth. He doesn't just drop that purpose into our laps, but we have to work it through and find that purpose. Perserverance keeps us going when things seem pointless. Faith gives us the idea, the though, the assurance that it is out there somewhere waiting for us. In some ways it is like the prize in a treasure hunt. But, as much as anything, God's purpose for us is found in the journey more than the destination. The trials and difficulties that we have to work through to h God's purpose for us is what helps to grow us into his children, people of integrity and honor.

God gives us faith for a purpose here on earth. Your faith grows throughout your life as you continue to take on and work through the challenges that God sends your way.

The growth of our faith is a cycle. Our faith either decreases according to the decsions and actions we take or avoid in our lives. For example, each time we back away from the tough things God sends us, then our faith decreases. Conversely, if we have a little faith, and then put our faith to use working through the tough challenges of life to completion, then our faith grows. We can thank God for the hard things that come out way. Because through them God becomes more and more real to us.

In our immaturity we want everything to come easy to us. We don't want to have to put a lot of effort into anything to make it happen. So, if something doesn't easily come together we give up and go onto something else. The big problem here is that each time we give up on a task, we make ourselves weaker and less able to do anything of real value. Then we think that life is too hard. We feel trapped, we feel like life is against us.

By contrast faith makes the (seemingly) impossible possible. Many things in this life seem impossible because they take a lot of thought, awareness, planning, research, diligence, perseverance, and effort to work them through to a successful conclusion. An extremely important part of the process is to keep our minds focused on the task until it is thoroughly finished. There are often many unexpected twists and turns, and (seeming) roadblocks along the way. Each of these has to be noticed and worked through as they come along. (Each of these may be a opportunity to learn what is needed for the next stage of the journey or process.) You must keep thoroughly awake and engaged in the process. If you let yourself become bored (being bored is a choice), then you may miss some of the turning points along the way. This will cause you to fail or to go through needless extra trials or difficulties.

Each time we stick with it and work through a challenging project to the very end, we increase our abilies to accomplish difficult things. Few people choose this strenuous path on their own, but those who do are greatly rewarded. Their fear of life lessens while their faith and confidence increase dramatically.  This is the path to growing and maturing as one of God's chosen and valuable vessels.

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