Sunday, August 06, 2017

Journey of Faith

From the archives, originally published August 6, 2015

A friend asked this question and I thought it deserved a thoughtful answer.

Everyone has a 'journey of faith'. What is your narrative? Describe it, with intellectual honesty.

My journey of faith is like a very long hike, following my guide, Jesus. The path sometimes feels like a scramble up a very steep, unstable slope. Rocks are falling from those who are ahead of me, and other times, these same folks reach back to lend a hand up and guide me to the best path around dangerous obstacles. I regularly consult the trail map (the Bible), travel with or simply confer with other followers of Jesus for the best routes and look for cairns left to mark the way. The path sometimes requires me to look down at my feet so I don't trip up and sometimes I look up to see my final destination.

There are many beautiful things I explore along the way, places and ideas I discover, I sometimes walk alongside others or stop for refreshment with a large group, and other times, I travel alone. The backpack of resources, memories, and burdens which I carry sometimes gets heavy. I have discarded some things along the way which I've outgrown, were mislabeled or weren't helpful any longer and I also picked up other resources along the path.

At times, I've relaxed beside quiet water, kicked off my boots, reflected on my journey so far, or even taken a nap. While the quiet moments of non-movement restore my soul, staying too long in one place on the faith journey is not healthy.

It's dangerous to travel alone. This mistake has cost me some painful tumbles in steep places where traversing alone was fool-hardy. There have been times my Guide, Jesus, has cautioned me not to go a particular route, but he won't stop me if I'm determined to go there. I've lost my sense of direction more than once when I didn't follow the One with the compass.

Ultimately, the majority of this interactive, dynamic, ever challenging journey involves steady, plodding, step-by-step movement toward eternity. Eugene Peterson calls this "a long obedience in the same direction."

Just like an aircraft has a flight path to which the pilot constantly must make course corrections to stay the course, my faith journey requires me to  keep in step with the Spirit, my eyes on Jesus and my heart fixed on the goal: the presence of God.

Sometimes this is obscured by cloud or darkness or my own blind determination to be self-sufficient. Sometimes I lose the path and need time to find it again. In those times, the voice I most long to hear is my Guide whispering "This is the way, walk in it." Sometimes I don't hear anything and then, I have to choose to continue walking, not doubting in the dark what I was shown in the light.

For we walk by faith and not by sight.

Do you have a different analogy for your faith journey? Share your thoughts in the comments here.

Photo credits: personal collection

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