Living in The Tensions of Faith

The ways of God are sometimes as clear as a mud puddle in the midst of a path. When someone tells me they can see what God is doing, I pause and ponder. The ways of the Lord are His ways, affected by the cries of His people, applauded by their praise, but often mysteriously confusing.

Some followers of Jesus probably disagree with me on those words. I have no problem with that. The solid foundation of their faith may be as firm as my late grandfather’s jawbones, set and unchanging. For me, however, I wrestle with the different directions the Almighty can travel. It’s the tensions of the faith journey.

For example, fervent pleas of prayer are offered up for different people afflicted with devastating illnesses. Some end up with people surrounding their hospital bed for their final moments of life, while others recover, experience healing, and become living witnesses to the power of prayer and the touch of God’s hand upon their lives. Why are both ends of the spectrum the results?

Why are followers of Jesus divided into a multitude of camps in regards to what are the most important elements of being a person of faith. Some emphasize the amount of water used in baptism and when baptism should occur; some emphasize the leading of the Holy Spirit and others never even mention the Spirit; and some emphasize the preaching of the Word while others “wait for a word from the Lord.”

Why are we called to live by faith and not by sight, but also called to see what God is doing around us? Why did Jesus call an assortment of common folk to be His lead disciples, but we become enamored when a celebrity of some kind becomes a Christian and is treated like he instantly has all the answers about faith? Why does it seem that some people are always living in pain– relationally, emotionally, mentally, physically– and others never seem to have any hint of unrest?

Why do some people become followers of Jesus, passionate and enthusiastic, but then fall away as quickly as the leaves dropping from the front yard maple tree in mid-October?

Why does God seem so close one moment and a distant cloud the next? Why do I seem to hear His whisper one day and experience the silence of God the next?

By this time some of you might have elevated me to the top of your prayer list and are sighing deeply in your wondering. But some of you are understanding the tensions of faith that I’m talking about.

And here’s the thing! If I, or we, had everything figured out and following Jesus was as clear as the lenses in my glass frames (that were wiped off with a cloth this morning), we would depend on God less and go our own way more. Kinda like a child who has matured from childhood and adolescence and no longer needed his parents’ supervision and help. You know what I mean? That point in life when one’s parents become more like advisors who we talk to a couple of times each week when we’re wondering what they think about a situation.

If faith didn’t have any tension in the mix we might become complacent and self-absorbed.

So I’ll continue to wonder why one person succumbs to cancer and another goes into remission? Or why one follower feels the closeness of God while another follower is wondering if He’s even there? I’ll live in the tension and the uncertainty of there really being a right answer. I’ve always enjoyed mysteries and, like an Agatha Christie novel, the answers to the mystery become clear…at the end.

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