Faith in God is a crucial issue in any year, but it is even more important in this year that started with the nuclear disaster in Japan and the Arab Spring, now that unrest has also surfaced in Russia, Israel and England, and governments struggle to tackle the problems left over from the global financial bubble of the first decade of the 21st C. What does it mean to be a person of faith and to trust God with our lives in such uncertain times?
To me a belief in God is the gateway into a deep faith. If a person believes, he can entertain the teachings of the Bible, she can begin to feel the mystery and the unknowing that is at the heart of faith. Beliefs take us only so far because a belief is essentially a way of thinking often without any commitment, but beliefs can become the vehicle that draws people into a deeper and deeper relationship with God.
The bridge between a belief in and a deep faith in God is the commitment of one’s life—heart, mind, soul and body–to a relationship embracing all that God brings into a person’s life, to loving God with all of oneself and to allowing God to transform one’s life into the purpose for which each of us was created. Call that “born again” or surrender, the result is the same: one pledges to put God first in his/her life, to listen to what God is saying, to follow where God leads and to allow the Holy Spirit into the deep places in one’s life to transform them, to heal them, and sometimes to recapture forgotten talents or interests.
In other words a person allows the Spirit to bring him into the perfection, wholeness and completion of who she was created to be.
Once committed a whole new world opens up, the kingdom of God that Jesus taught. A person moves from being immersed in the culture/world that he grew up in to begin immersed in the kingdom, in something that is so much bigger than herself: in the mystery of who God is, how God acts in the world and how God can be so vast and unknowable, and at the same time, be the God who accompanies us, supports us, loves and forgives us.
While this transformation doesn’t happen overnight, it does gradually evolve so that one’s whole orientation changes. He goes from being a captive audience to the culture and all its rules and expectations to being a captive audience of God’s. She still lives and works and loves and does everything in the world, but her heart and mind and soul and body belong to God.
The trust in God that accompanies this deep faith allows each person to live in this world, but not of the world. In these uncertain times the person who has committed her life to God doesn’t give way to anxiety or despair or any version of “what’s going to happen to me and mine?” He knows in a deep place in his being that everything will be alright. Along with Julian of Norwich, an English mystic who died in the early 15th century, they can say, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”