Posted by: minnow | January 12, 2010

Shaking Faith

My friend’s daughter died in her sleep.  She had been battling this  round of cancer for over two years.  Like our former pastor she and her family had received words  and encouragement that she would be healed.  Obviously those words were wrong–either misinterpreted or not from God.  I say obviously because I believe in a God who can heal and also in a God who keeps His promises so if that encouragement was from God it had to have been misunderstood.

I am writing about death this morning because I found myself (as I was letting my son know the news) filled with concern for my friend.  She had been so certain her daughter would be healed.  I told my son I prayed it would not cause too deep a shaking of her faith.  He echoed my prayer but suggested that death always shakes ones faith, at least to some extent.  He said he thought some people come out stronger from the experience of loss but that he was sure death always does some shaking.

I am NOT looking to be tested on this but I do not believe death, even the death of a loved one, will ever shake my faith.  I know I will be saddened by the death of those I love.  I am saddened at the passing of this young wife and mother.  And I will not always understand why some die so young (like the two teens my daughter knew from softball that were killed just a few weeks ago by a drunk driver) and others after such a long and painful illness (like my friend’s daughter).  But, neither will I spend a great deal of time asking those questions. 

I know death will anger me, at times, because it already has.  If something tragic were to happen to a loved one, like suicide or murder or an unnecessary accident, I am pretty certain I will see depths of my anger I have not yet visited.  That does not however take away how angry I am about the senseless deaths of others.  War, starvation, drug abuse, we humans have found all kinds of ugly ways to die.  Still, my faith in God is not shaken.

Perhaps I am too fatalistic, although I do not see death as an end so the negative connotations of that word do not apply.  Rather, I see death as a transition from one phase of the journey we are on to the next.  But, since I do not honestly know what to expect on the other side I am not particularly anxious to get there.  In other words, I can wait until I’m 100 since there is plenty on this side to do which I do understand.

For some my last sentiment might sound un-Christian.  Does not The Father wait on the other side?  Is not life with Him to be desired and anticipated with sheer joy?  Can not our whole purpose be summed up by the idea of getting as many people as possible to think the way we do (anticipate life after death in Heaven worshipping God) so we can all be eternally happy together?

I do not know about you, but when I was a kid Heaven sounded pretty boring–sitting around playing harps, bowing down before some big (and I mean BIG) entity I was never allowed to see until then, singing and praying all day, every day, for ever and ever.  Amen.  UGH.  (I know blasphemy).  But the fact is, I can not quite wrap my head around those images even as an adult. 

So, I choose instead to believe that my eternity with  God began when I started having God sightings–when I started understanding He was indeed at work in the world, when I felt the Holy Spirit move in my own heart, and when I saw evidence of the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of others.  My Christian upbringing gave me names and labels to put on some of those experiences.  It gave me a framework through which I can understand some of the hows and whys and wherefores.  It did not however, answer all my questions, create my faith, or even contribute to my faith in significant ways.  This is why I feel confident death can not shake my faith–eternity has already begun and death is just a transition.

I am, we all are, on a journey.  Our destination is not Heaven: Man’s Most Boring Vacationland!  Our destination (if we must call it that) is deeper intimacy with our Creator.  He loves us.  He is wooing us.  Some of us do not understand what love is because we have not had very good examples but He is teaching us.  The Holy Spirit is constantly moving back and forth over the earth.  Jesus the God-man lived it out here in our midst so we would know what path to walk, that walking it is possible, and that we do not have to wait for heaven to begin eternity with the Father.  “Where O Death is your victory?  Where O Death is your sting?”  Christ has defeated you, and you will not shake my faith in Him!

QUESTION: What can shake your faith?

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Responses

  1. Hey minnow,
    it’s interesting you posted this – I just sent you an email not too long ago with some thoughts on struggling. I know you and I have talked quite a bit about struggles, good, bad, God’s sovereignty…. interesting you posted this today.

    As far as what can shake my faith — my grandma’s death shook my faith (the timing I believe and just her being gone — and situations involved) and it was the hardest thing I went through – yet I know that it was the biggest turning point in my spiritual life. She was my pastor, my spiritual mentor and then when she died I found myself crying on the pavement cheek to the cement saying wow God I am so sick of faking it – I want to truly KNOW you like she did. I had a huge revelation I always related to Him through her and others and never really had that intimate, personal relationship just me and Him to start…. it was huge.

    but anyway — just rambling….. I definitely agree with you about death — a transition…. also agree about not focusing on heaven too much… I really try to soak up life now and I really don’t think about heaven too much — because I can’t even wrap my mind around any concept of it at all….

    but I imagine if I had to go through the death of one of my children or my husband right now – it would shake my faith so much because of how immature I am. I would not understand and ultimately I know I would trust God, love God and realize my spiritual journey was more about me, what I desire, what I plan and praying for all struggles to stay away…

    but I imagine it would shake me…

    maybe tragedy would shake me like it did grandma’s death. shake me awake. open my heart/eyes…change my perspectives & priorities… like many in haiti and natural disasters and whatever…..

    I do pray I won’t have to experience that sense of tragedy to learn, grow, change whatever. I pray that I never experience the death of my spouse or children! I even mourn already for the loss of my parents on earth because of how close we are.

    anyway – ramble ramble ramble… geesh 🙂

    thanks for sharing ur heart as always!

  2. “Our destination (if we must call it that) is deeper intimacy with our Creator.”

    Beautiful words and a great way to start my day.

    My faith is weak as it is, so I can imagine lots of things that might shake its foundations. Like the earthquake in Haiti, for instance. I find myself asking why a God would allow his creations to suffer so terribly. I just have to trust that he sees a much bigger picture than I do.

  3. I may be using too narrow a definition for the concept of shaking my faith. I am thinking of it as creating doubt toward God, toward His existance or power or love for the world. I definately do not understand all (most) of His timing or intentions. The young woman’s death that I mention at the top of this post for example perplexes me. Why let her fight so hard for nearly two years? Why let her go into remission once, have a baby, and now leave her 3 year old son without a mother? Why the year of really severe pain?
    How is God in any of this? Lots of questions, confusion, sadness. BUT still I am confident that God is who He says He is. He is who He has shown Himself to be in my life. And I am equally sure my faith will continue to be shaped by my experiences this side of death. Yet, my faith in Him does NOT reside in my mind.
    And, feel free to ramble any time. I like it!!

  4. Brian–Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog as well. From the sounds of your story your faith has been “tested” at a personal level as well as a global level (Why would God allow His creation to suffer?). Hope to see you again sometime.

  5. “My faith in Him does not reside in my mind”

    those are great words and I can say the same. very true.

    my mind really messes things up and just causes a lot of unnecessary confusion/turmoil a lot of the time!

  6. so i wonder if a person is shaken by struggle….. big struggle or little…. and has lots of doubts and truly “shaken” the way you described in your comment —

    what sort of faith they have (had) anyway? was it faith in the one true God? or more faith/hope/pie in the sky wishing this god out there would make me the center? prosperity gospel thinking? ….. gotta jet. more later


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