On Faith and the Human Condition

I wrote in a previous entry that the journey of faith is in some ways short, and in some ways infinite.  I’d like to take a moment to explore that idea here.

Faith is simple.  You just do it.  You just let go, and believe.  You have faith.  You take the leap. Just like that, it is done.

Faith is also complicated and difficult, because we are human.  Doubts enter our minds, and our minds sometimes trick our hearts.  Our human brains are unbelievably powerful observers of information, perceivers of stimuli, and processors of pattern. They are working constantly to give us information about our surroundings, and bring us the understanding of those surroundings required to survive in a constantly dangerous world. Every day, we drive deadly, two-ton hunks of steel at speeds orders of magnitude faster than we could ever hope to move on our own.  We do this on freeways where 10,000 other humans are performing the same task, at the same speeds, many of whom are some measure of distracted, and our brains allow us to do this as though it was second nature. It is staggering to think about.

This observational, logical nature of our brains is a gift, to be sure, but in some ways it is also an interdictor, preventing us from realizing our total, true self. I have fallen prey to overestimating the limited facilities of my own brain, to be sure. My mind is one that values the scientific method, order, and empirical evidence. It has cast doubt upon the unseen. I believe this was one of the reasons why faith has been such a struggle. I trusted my limited human brain to tell me everything I needed to know about survival. Because I thought that understanding the world with my mind and soul were more or less mutually exclusive ideas, I never really considered that my empirical observations and logical understanding of the world might actually only constitute one portion of the whole picture that I needed to survive.

Empirical evidence and faith are not mutually exclusive ideas, and you can simultaneously trust your mind and your soul to guide you, because both of them are of the Lord.  And just because I trust in science to tell me about the observable universe does not mean that I cannot also trust my heart to tell me about the unseen truth behind the curtain, because one does not preclude the other.

I also trusted my mind to tell me when the time was right to believe in God. This was undoubtedly one of the reasons why it took me so long to understand what it truly meant to take a leap of faith. I’m coming to understand that faith is not necessarily about what my brain tells me. It’s about that for which my soul thirsts.  My brain can help me comprehend along the way, of course. There are lessons in the Book I need to digest in order to internalize.  There are lessons I will learn from observing the good deeds of others. There is knowledge to be sought. But coming home to the Lord means using my whole array of senses to make the leap of faith, so that I can move my soul from the dark rim of the canyon to the light.

So, in much the same way that we will never run out of questions to ask of science in a seemingly infinite universe, our souls will never complete a journey to faith.  Our souls are limited and flawed, and the Lord’s presence gives us an infinite space to explore and observe.  The journey to understanding God will never be complete.

But it is so simple in theory to begin the journey.  Open the book, open your heart, and take the leap.

I have chosen to jump.

Prayer of the morning:

Father above us, Father among us, Father in our hearts, this morning is a time for courage. I ask that you please give me new strength every day to take another step closer to you.

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