Wednesday, March 10, 2010

faith? that's for old people!

Keep the faith! People have said those words to me over the years.
I guess for most of my life I have thought, ... "and just HOW do I do that?" Keep the faith? What faith? I have known people who I thought "had" great faith ... but I sure wasn't one of them. Most of them were wrinkled. And IF they weren't seriously wrinkled ... well, they were really quiet praying kinda people. People with faith, ... I guess I have always thought that flies never landed on them. You know, those dear wrinkled souls ... never really seemed to have any serious problems.
By nature, (OK, I think I am getting over some of this) I am and have always been a control freek. I hate change. Not even Obama has been able to make change sound good for me. Change SUCKS! I remember to this day the trama of seeing my oldest daughter after her first haircut. It's weird! How am I going to get used to that?
Well, we had five "wild" (generally speaking) kids in comparison to many families we knew ... but our kids are no where near as wild as I was (at least that I know about ... and believe me, I don't want to know about it either). So, we saw our fair share of change.
I can tell you countless stories of having to deal with REAL change in our world. Some really BIG stuff! Not just haircuts! Our kids were absolutely darling! I mean I love them to death and am very proud of them all ... but I can tell you other stories of years of pure "HELL" that my wife and I survived trying to be parents without a good clear cut manual. Sometimes we lived in terror of things coming apart at the seams. Those years changed us forever. Now we can laugh (a bit) at the past.
I think everybody experiences the kinds of things that change our worlds and our thinking. We don't experience the same stuff ... but our worlds change in different ways. It's all tough to deal with ... we just get different stuff to carry. I know people that have gone through the turmoil of divorce and the splitting up of their family. I know others that have lost children by disease and sudden tradgedy. I know of joblessness, homelessness and of others who were and seemingly ARE utterly alone in the world. I have known of so many horrible things that are real life changers. I'm sure you do too!
Where is faith in all of these trials? Where is God? Doesn't He care? Why is this happening to me? Is God getting some kind of pleasure watching me suffer? If there is a God, ... is He good? Or is He powerless to change things? Can He hear me? GOD, ... DO YOU HEAR ME NOW? I am calling out to you ... and I need to know you are there and that you at least hear me. Will you please talk to me and tell me what to do?
Have you ever wondered these things ... or shouted them from a hilltop into the starry night?
Perhaps, you don't believe there is a God at all. I understand that! And I have questioned what I believe countless times.
Faith? What is faith? And exactly how do I "keep the faith" that I can't fully grasp? Some of you hate reading these words. Perhaps, you may not even want to know if there is a God. Maybe you think ... if you don't fully understand that there is a God ... you won't be held accountable for sticking your head in the sand to avoid Him.
Some of you are searching for God. I believe that God is desperately searching to get through to you and yet you might feel like He is hiding or running from you every time you get close. Try praying this (without any predetermnined ideas on what or who God IS). Pray, ... God if you really are out there ... help me to really find you. Every time you wonder if He is there or if He really cares for you, ... pray that!
Faith? Mine never grew that much when I was young or when our kids were young. The truth is ... if my wallet could solve the problem ... I found that my faith had little opportunity to grow. I think faith can only grow when you remove yourself (or God removes you) from the equation so that you have to allow God to take control. I rarely ever had the guts to do that. So, I had and still have a somewhat retarded faith so to speak! I think those wrinkled faces I have seen were probably owned by people who struggled with their faith when they were younger too. I believe they learned to be faithful from lessons that they were given that were far too big for their wallets or any other resources to solve. I believe it is quite possible that they were forced to wait upon God because they could do nothing to solve their problems by themselves.
Have you ever experienced having a problem so big that you could not solve it? If you haven't ... I believe it is really difficult to have deep rooted faith. You likely lack faith wrinkles, which is OK, but life is not likely going to grant you that forever. The absence of wrinkles doesn't mean you don't have faith. It just means it hasn't had the opportunity to really grow. I'm saying, ... I think if you win the lottery every week ... it's a lot harder to need God ... and I think it's a lot more difficult for your faith to be stretched.
Have you ever seen a huge problem solved by God's hand? OH, ... I sure haven't arrived when it comes to being a "man of faith". I am not even close, ... though I think I am becoming a bit more weathered (wrinkled) every day. The Bible teaches us that "Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
Have you ever felt you needed a sign from God that He even heard your prayers? I sure have. I wished that I could have those signs every day. It would have made the days a lot easier.

Remember the story of Thomas the disciple after the resurrection of Jesus? (See John 20)
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

You know, Judas of course is considered the worst of the disciples but Thomas wears that "doubting Thomas" label because of this account. What a slouch! Thomas you are such a loser! Oh wait, ... that's me too! So many times I have to see things in order to believe or to have faith. I am often a doubting Thomas. Is that you too? Maybe you won't even believe in Christ ... because He won't die on the cross for you this year and rise from the dead so you can see it for yourself and have it reported in your local paper. We all doubt. We all lack faith.

I want signs that God hears me everyday. Isn't that a form of doubt too? Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus is talking about you and me here. If you believe in Christ, you had to do it without seeing the evidence Thomas was given. That means you need greater faith in one sense and you are blessed. Maybe It doesn't please God that I am always looking for a sign of His presence. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. If it takes a daily morning video conference call with God for me to be convinced He cares and that He hears me ... how much faith do I really have in Him?

Waiting on the Lord and letting Him provide answers in His timing takes greater faith. Those wrinkled men and women of faith I have seen were likely shaped by the times in which they had no other choice but to wait for answers and see God provide in His way. But they were also shaped by accepting the answers that were provided. I guess I think the wrinkled people have spent more time being observers to what God is doing rather than being control freeks trying to do it themselves. They pray more and worry less. They pray BIG things that they know only God could possibly do. I admire them. I hope that one day I will be counted among them.

Faith? That's for old people! And for me.
Have a great day. It's great to be home ... even though it snowed again.
NikonSniper Steve

25 comments:

Teacher's Pet said...

Welcome home. What a beautiful post to 'come home' to.
Love,
Jackie

Luke Smith said...

In many ways, this post is very encouraging to hear another believer endorsing faith without seeing.

I would like to add, and speak more specifically to those younger men out there like me, that just because you don't have wrinkles, doesn't mean that your faith isn't 'big' enough to make disciples and be actively involved in the faith. Regardless of how old you are, it is a command from God in Scripture that men of all ages be actively involved in the faith. Paul writes to Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

Thanks for this post! I love reading about subjects pertaining to the faith.

Stand Firm,
Luke Smith

CO said...

Amen, and may God bless your socks off!

Dee said...

Wow...impressive. I at times have doubted my faith...till I hit a spot in my life when all I can do is lean and trust on the Lord, then I realize I always had my faith,it was just set aside. My husband needs a heart transplant and I have insurance fears, my faith in the Lord is very strong that the Lord will provide, and we are both at peace at what lies before us. I like your statement of how "God is trying desperately to get through to you." Happy Spring.

Heckety said...

Now this post is really, really interesting.
I'd say I was among the lucky ones because the very culture of old rural Ireland was based on faith- the 'pray through everything', 'accept your lot because its what God's given you', 'be grateful', 'our yesterday-today-tomorrow God', and all that jazz. In some ways I think rural Ireland in the '70s '80s remained similar to 1930s everywhere else!
I guess what I'm trying to say is, our wallets never solved anything, then, since, or now, we've struggled for everything always, and so, faith comes as easy as breathing because if God isn't for us then what the heck are we here for?!
But reading your writing is good, and I'll return and read it again I think.

Argent said...

A terrific, thoughtful piece, Steve. I've had many of the very same thoughts and have not nearly enough wrinkles myself yet. Keep the faith indeed!

@eloh said...

I couldn't agree more. I can also tell you that your assumptions are correct.

The worst day of my life was not the destruction of my beautiful first born...but the day I lost faith. It has been a very long road...

Angela said...

"I believe they learned to be faithful from lessons that they were given that were far too big for their wallets or any other resources to solve. I believe it is quite possible that they were forced to wait upon God because they could do nothing to solve their problems by themselves."

this really spoke to me because this is where I have been walking these last 18 months,,I would also add the word trust...My wallet was far too big AND I still feared how we were going to pay the bills, I thought I had faith,,but more faith in the big wallet,..

and" What a slouch! Thomas you are such a loser! Oh wait, ... that's me too!"

I cracked up at that statement and TOTALLY related..I've been known to say that I thought I had faith, I thought I trusted,,but I've been brought to a place where I have A LOT of spiritually wrinkles these days...lol. And yes, some in the natural realm also,,but hey...slowly there Lord God..a little slower there in that department please.

I really was blessed reading this. I enjoyed it...now I'm going to look a the pics you take.

I love photography. My family is in the habit of taking a good pic,,than we enlarge it and frame them..have quite a bit around the house...

Blessings...

Stephen Baird said...

dee & @eloh, prayers for you.
nikonsniper steve

Stephen Baird said...

heckety,
as you know ... i do know a bit about those roots from ireland.
nikonsniper steve

Rena said...

Wonderful post.

karen hopkins said...

Thank you, friend, for becoming a blog follower on my blogsite, http://www.karensthreadsofhope.blogspot.com - my joy is being able to write on the blog, sharing my heart, and what the Lord has given me to share with those who come across it. I hope you find encouragement in the posts that are there, and I look forward to reading more of yours.. I have a " God story" about photography , that I might be sharing on Threads.. It truly is a story of God's healing in how He used a sweet young woman, to help me conquor some major shame because of the use of Photography.. I hope you come back in the near future and see how God has brought joy now to my soul .. Bless ya, brother.. looking forward to reading more of your blog..
Hanging onto the Thread of Hope,
karen

Katherine said...

I can't imagine living life without my faith.
Life, as you say, throws some very unexpected curved balls and life as you know it can be turned inside out & upside down.
I have had my share of these times but I know this much to be true...without my faith, it would have been a very tough road.

Journaling Woman said...

Nice post. Faith is truly "waiting on the Lord...in His timing.... And I might add no one has ever told me having faith or being faithful is easy. Whether you have wrinkles or not - having faith is worth it-worth believing in.

Richard said...

Haven't we all said at one time or another..."God, show me a sign that you can hear me" and then the sun comes up and the birds sing...all are God talking to you and me and we don't even see or listen.

stanw said...

Love your thoughtful post about faith. This sentence, "forced to wait upon G-d because they could do nothing to solve their problems by themselves," certainly holds important meaning to me. Some things just have to be given to G-d because only He knows us the best and what we need, and often to just trust Him.

I am also a Nikon enthusiast and love getting out there and getting shots of G-d's amazing creation, and even man's handiwork evidenced by your pic of the graffiti, etc.

Gods Little People said...

Hi Stephen,
There's so much good that can be said about this "breath of fresh air" piece of writing, but for the moment I just want to say how utterly relieving it is when someone comes out of that dogmatic box of such utter certainty about that which we actually do not know about. It can only go everywhere from there!! So full of potential.

Stacey Dawn at "Addicted to The Click" said...

I'm earning my wrinkles and my weathering... and my faith is increasing right along with their additions. Thank you for your words and your posting. It's so encouraging to see more and more of Faith and God written about in the blog world! And - I have to second a commenter from above - "may God bless your socks off!"

Jeni said...

Well, I'm old, more than a bit wrinkly too and a grandma as well and I think I have faith. I know I do believe without "seeing" in one respect but yet, I think I "see" things every single day just because I woke up again and was able to manage to roll out of bed and get the kinks to start working out of my stiff and sore limbs.
I doubt very seriously if there is anyone walking the planet who hasn't had questions such as you voiced in this post. I know I have had many of them at times in my life. I learned something though about 34 years ago this summer that I thought I knew before then but really, I wasn't quite as observant as I had thought I was before that time. I learned via Al-Anon and the Twelve Step program to turn things over to a Higher Power -and anyone can do that regardless of one's beliefs but for me, it meant turning things over to God, the name of my Higher Power. That first step has brought me so much peace of mind over the years -not that I didn't have a hell of a lot of trips and stumbles and falls along the way either, because I did. I raised three children as a single parent when their father decided marriage was not the way for him to live. We survived somehow. There have been many times when I have felt horribly alone, deserted, lost -you name it -but somehow things fell back into place. Seven years ago, two things happened to me though that really restored my faith. One was being diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer and the other was the birth of my second grandchild -my only granddaugher -who was subsequently diagnosed as autistic as was her little brother, born almost 3 years later. I don't look at those things that happened as bad things -uncomfortable perhaps, yes -but not bad because of the effect all of that has had on me. I see things in a much different perspective much of the time today -grateful for having all three of my grandchildren (an understatement there as I adore them) and welcoming the challenges of helping them to become all that they can be. I see the world around me differently as well -not with the big pangs of jealousy and envy that used to hit me hard at times but with the understanding that I have so much to be thankful for -my family; children, grandchildren, cousins still with me; friends -some that go as far back as to when I was a toddler, some recent additions and it is still faith that life is good, as it should be, that whatever ills I may feel I am dealing with are still nothing compared to what so many people around the world are facing -daily! I have a home -old, in need of many things, yes -but it's been my home, all my life and now it's home to two of my grandchildren too. I have food -and way more than I need as evidenced by the fact I am under doctor's orders to shed a few of the poundage from all that abundance. Clothes -I have more than enough there too even though I often hear myself saying "I have nothing to wear." Hah! Liar, liar!
So many things -freedoms, too many to count really. A wonderful life? Oh sometimes not exactly "wonderful" but it's mine and I'm still living it so that makes it wonderful for me. It's faith that runs like the tide at times -sometimes low, sometimes high -but it's what has kept me going and will sustain me too. Of that, I have faith.
Sorry to write a book here -I do that at times when someone posts something that really trips a trigger in me, and -as you can see, you did just that with this beautiful post today. Thanks for reminding me of all the things I have, have done, can do, will do in days to come too and to keep trying to abide by that faith that's carried me through thus far.

Stephen Baird said...

jeni,
thanks! great thoughts you expressed.
nikonsniper steve

Marcie said...

It is just planet school,,,..just do the best you can, let God take on what you can't, he is our father and wants us to take it all to him. Give it over, all that hard stuff. Your normal and all is well, and will be.
I do admitt to the cosmos,planets,suns,blackholes,and outerspace...blowing my mind. Humans are not to evolved really.
Marcie

Deborah Jean said...

I'm back to chat " Faith"...I like your words about faith and becoming more faithful. I agree that when times are wonderful ( PROSPEROUS, LUCRATIVE)it's easy to forget just where all those blessings are coming from... I'm getting grayer too and learning to let go of my ideas and listen to his with each and every day. Oh, I still want the rains when I can grab hold of them, but now I KNOW even when I've gottem', I'm not steering alone... Having and keeping Faith is a lot like riding a horse.. You have to trust each other and one of you has to believe the other one knows where you are going!
Blessings on your faithful journey!
Deb

Judy said...

Faith is a muscle that needs regular exercise to stay strong and grow. God may not deliver me from every trial, but He will never require me to endure alone. My faith whispers God is always there. "God doesn't always come when you call, but when He does come, He's never late."

Diana Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ said...

Lo único cierto es que la fe mueve montañas.

Saludos, excelentes temas!

Te de Ternura said...

Me gusta tu SENTIMIENTO, tu SENSIBILIDAD y tu FOTOGRAFIA
BIENVENIDO a mi blog!!!