James: In Faith
Someone once told me that I had the gift of faith.
Someone once told me that my faith was weakness,
and that I believed blindly like a child.
I have wrestled with these contradictory statements for years. In the Bible, Jesus tells us to be like children (Matt. 18:3). The world tells us to grow up. I suppose there is some correlation between children and weakness, and maybe the person who read my faith as such misunderstood that although children are vulnerable, they also have great hidden strengths. They are open-minded and open-hearted; they are moldable and impressionable; they are teachable; they are slow to judge, and quick to befriend. Children have a beautiful ability to speak truth in many situations. I have had a child innocently comment on the “lines” on my face (from too much laughing and smiling, right?!). Looking around the church on Sunday mornings, I am overwhelmed by the freedom with which the children in our congregation operate. Acknowledging these features of child-like faith, if there is truth to either of the statements above, then I accept the challenge, and aim to apply this type of faith in my life.
I went through a rough patch a few years ago, remnants of which have yet to completely resolve. When I was confronted by this particular rough patch, I didn’t know it at the time, not really, but I had a choice. I could choose to become bitter and angry, or I could choose to believe that God had a plan and a purpose. At the time it didn’t feel like a choice, not really. It felt like as I put one foot in front of the other, God was already there in front of me, setting the path before me. One step, then the next, and the next one after that, all laid out in front of me, urging me to keep looking ahead, toward Him. I wouldn’t have been able to explain why I chose to believe Him, but looking back, the steps on that path, where He caught every footfall, are the evidence of my faith in action, my faith leaping out of my being, urged on by the One who put it there in the first place.
James says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (2:18). I used to get caught up in the deeds and do of this passage. But after walking through the last few years, I have come to realize that faith is in fact what we do, but not in the way that I once thought. By faith we are urged to put one foot in front of the other and fix our eyes straight ahead toward Jesus, as He continues to show us that He is trustworthy and faithful; and He, as the author and perfecter of our faith, is with us every step of the way.