Over the past few days I have been giving some thought to my faith: the things of God in which I have great faith, and those in which I have little faith or even no faith at all. This time of reflection has been both a delight and a sorrow; a joy and an embarrassment.
I have seen that my faith can be understood as something like a graph. Certain points along the Y-axis are very high and quite unshakeable. I believe that God exists. This is a faith that God has placed in my heart and I do not believe that it can be shaken, or at least surely not destroyed. Beside that are other high points in my faith: the Bible is God’s Word to us and is inerrant; God has saved me and adopted me into His family; God loves me; there is a heaven; Jesus Christ died to take the penalty of my sin. These are all areas in which I have great faith.
As we travel down the X-axis, we come to areas where my faith is not so strong. Here we will find my belief that God truly does desire to bring me the best through adversity. Here we will find my belief that God does hear and answer prayer. These are things I believe, but without the strength of conviction of those I listed earlier.
And then, not too far distant down this gentle slope, is a precipice. Just like that we come to the edge of my faith and plummet down into those areas where my faith is vague and distant and shows little conviction. And what is lurking down here? The one thing I’ve found through all my heart-searching is the faith that God will take care of my family if I cannot. You see, I desire heaven. I truly do want to be in heaven and to put an end to this life which is so filled with pain and discomfort and all manner of things that will be absent in heaven. I do desire to be with the Lord and know that this desire is healthy. Yet I desire it just a little less than I desire to stay right here. And the reason for this is that I don’t trust God with my family.
I know that if I were to go to heaven I would leave my family here without me. Aileen would be left without a husband and my children would be left without their daddy. And who would take care of them? Who would support the family financially, bringing in the money to buy food and clothing? Who would put a roof over their heads? Who would continue my work in teaching my son to play baseball and who would tell my daughter she looks beautiful when she puts on her favorite pink dress and spins across the room? Who would make sure the doors are locked and quietly assure the children that “daddy is here, everything will be alright?”
I have given my family to God. I have said to God that He is free to do what He wills with them and I will accept His decision. Of course I know that God is not dependent on me in this way, but it was a faith-building exercise for me. Likewise I have given Him my life, begging Him to live in and through me and to use me however He sees fit. But despite my pleas and despite my apparent faith in His goodness, I am still not ready to leave my family.
I guess what it comes down to is that I trust God with my life, but not with theirs. I trust that He will provide for them, but only through me. The hypocrisy in my heart is terrible, is it not? Somehow I believe that God needs me to take care of my family. Somehow I believe that He will provide for them, but yet I don’t believe He can or will do it apart from me. Somehow I believe that I am the one taking care of them.
But there must be a second factor at work here. I must also have too low a view of heaven. If all that God has revealed about heaven is true, and I believe it is, I ought to desire it more than anything. I should feel the same anticipation as the apostles who spoke continually about their hope being not in this life, but in the life to come. It is clear to me that I am basking in temporary, fleeting pleasures that are merely a shadow of what is to come, and enjoying these so much I am not looking forward to the real thing. I am licking my lips in anticipation of the crumbs that will fall under the table rather than anticipating the great feast that is to come.
And I guess the third factor is that I do not trust the church to fulfill its role in caring for the orphan and the widow. Sure they would be there initially and for a few weeks the freezer would be filled with macaroni casseroles, but my faith does not extend to six or eight months down the road when I have long since been forgotten and the deepest loneliness sets in to the family.
So this is my confession based on much reflection. It is almost embarrassing to write about this. It is humiliating to come to the very edge of my faith. Yet I trust it will also be helpful as I now have several specific areas I can bring before God and search for in Scripture. I trust that with His help we will be able to push the edge of my faith further down that slope. Perhaps in a few months I will be doing this all again, having come to the next precipice.