True Story: in college I read the twin passages in Isaiah and Peter, “By his wounds we are [were] healed.” I sat at my desk, wearing my glasses. I thought the fact I wore glasses meant I was flawed--that I was sick. I read the Bible verses and faced a crisis of faith: I wanted to stand in faith on these wonderful promises--which would I believe: God’s perfect word or my fuzzy vision? I prayed, “God, I have faith in this promise. By your wounds I am healed.” Without any fanfare I set my glasses on the desk, went to bed, woke up the next morning and announced to my friends that God had healed my eyesight!
“Absolutely,” I declared, choosing to believe God’s word more than my blurry vision. “I asked him to heal my eyes, and now I see perfectly.” I still couldn’t see very well.
I was the talk of the campus for a few days. Of course, my eyes were actually no different, but I was determined to believe God’s word rather than my lying symptoms. My glasses stayed on my desk for two years. When I graduated from college and moved away, I quietly put them back on. I was a faith failure.
Some Bible-words sit behind so much stained glass it’s hard to recognize their meanings anymore. For me, it was the word "faith."
Several years ago the word faith became so stale I was tempted to cut it out of my Bible. Every time I read "faith," the word seemed so heavy and trafficked with religion. Televangelists rave about faith. Athletes use it like human growth hormone. George Michael sings about it. For me, it had become a lifeless word, an albatross around my neck, a flat tire slowing me down, or a worthless metaphor like the bird and the tire.
It was a problem, because I’ve been told that without faith it’s impossible to please God. Everyone kept telling me faith was the currency of God’s Kingdom, which meant some days I was bankrupt and other days I was a rich as a sailor on payday. I was a pastor for 15 years--I was supposed to deal faith like Kanye deals beats. But when it came to faith, I needed five new letters like David needed five smooth stones--you get the idea, right? I needed a fresh metaphor.
Then Holy Spirit changed my life when he gave me a new meaning. The Spirit whispered the simple word, "trust," and new life filled my veins. I may not have had faith, but I knew how to trust. I had trusted my friends and been rewarded with deep and lasting relationships. I’ve had complete assurance that no matter what bone-headed thing I’d done they would not judge me or leave me. I met the woman who became my wife, and I’ve trusted her for decades. That trust has grown into a little outpost of God’s Kingdom on earth as together we model Jesus and his bride. Trust is the natural outcome of loving relationship.
Faith I do not understand. Trust I have lived day-by-day.
So many believers have been taught that faith exists as a proposition: you believe, then God fulfills his promise. The Bible is filled with promises, and many of us have been taught that faith means reading those words, even memorizing them, and (I have really heard this) “holding God to his promises.” If faith is only propositional, no relationship is necessary. Faith is a currency, God is selling promises, so pay the Man.
It never worked for me. Frequently I mis-understood the meaning of the words I read in the scripture. Even more frequently I presumed upon the Father’s good grace, and tried to tell him what to do. Most frequently of all, I talked myself into having faith in something I didn’t really believe. Like the little girl in Sunday School who answered honestly, “Faith is believing something you know isn’t true.”
But trust? I’ve learned to trust people even when they’ve hurt me. I’ve learned that trust transcends my puny brain; trust builds a bridge between my foolishness and his mercy. I don’t care one bit about “the problem of evil” portrayed in the Book of Job. In that wonderful book I met a man who trusted God beyond all reason, because God was his friend.
I suspect I’ll be a faith failure all my life, but I trust the One who will welcome me home in the end, and I trust him day by day.