A few Sundays ago I visited a church in downtown Vancouver that is doing the Alpha series over the summer. This week was on episode 4, “What is Faith?”. In the beginning I was a bit cocky thinking it was too simplistic but as I watched the video I realized how complicated it can be to define faith.
I wasn’t completely satisfied with how Nicky Gumbel answered the question. In terms of the theology and the biblical perspectives he was right on the mark but at the end of the video I felt a bit disturbed. In my opinion some things are not meant to be completely defined and put in a box. Faith is meant to be experienced and is so personal and beyond our mental capacity to think about and define completely in words.
As I kept contemplating the subject of faith I realized how integral faith has been throughout my life and my childhood. As a child God gave me an incredible inner strength to believe that I could go beyond everybody’s expectations of me. When I was around four or five years old I remember being at the hospital and overhearing the nurses say that I would never be able to walk or use a power chair or read. Something inside of me just knew that I was more capable then anyone expected. Looking back I can see how God put certain people on my path who had the insight to see what I was capable of, that I was capable of driving a power chair, reading and getting an education. As I got older my faith in God and what I was able to do in him only grew and defined my outlook on life. I knew that God was bigger then me, more powerful and more loving.
Sixteen years ago I moved from a group home into an apartment to live on my own. It was a huge step of faith not only for me but for my family and friends. The biggest question for all was how I was going to manage everything; will I have adequate care support, how would I get groceries, what would I do in emergencies, etc. I couldn’t really answer. All I knew was that somehow I would do it and that God would provide for me, that God would help me get through it.
The biggest reason why I moved was to rely on God knowing that I could live independently like most adults but also knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do it completely on my own, be self-reliant, that I would have to depend on others to come in every day and help support me but also I would have to depend on God for everything else. A testament of faith.
I can truly say that for the past sixteen years in one way or another I have been completely reliant on God. In the beginning it was a bit challenging to find attendants that were reliable and dependable. Sometimes they wouldn’t show up to work or they would quit because they got another job or they didn’t like what they were doing. But that’s when faith comes in. Faith is the cornerstone in my relationship with God. The trust that exists down in your soul gives you unsurmountable peace and internal hope.
Many people say that they don’t have faith or they have lost their faith but I think we forget to differentiate between the reality of having faith and our visual expectations of faith. I think you can have faith and still be disappointed about the outcome. The light of faith may be dimmer but it’s still ignited.
So back to the question of “What is faith?”. As I have said, prayer is the breath of life while faith is the result of being in God’s goodness, choosing to believe in the Holy Spirit and knowing that even if you’re not able to see God in a tangible context (human form), his love, grace and mercy are as evident as the sun beaming on your face.