What Faith Looks Like

September 07, 2008

“Through our struggles, the dream is rooted more deeply in us.”
-Nelson Mandela—

Sometimes I wonder how Joshua must have felt to have journeyed through the desert to reach the promised land, only to find it inhabited by someone else.

How did he feel when Moses told him “Be strong and courageous for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them and I myself will be with you.” (Deut. 31:23)

Did he want to laugh? Or run away? Did he think God heartless to give him an impossible task? Why did God tell him five times “do not be discouraged?”

Was it because He knew that the natural circumstances would overwhelm him?

And yet of all the heroes of faith, it is Joshua who does not falter.

But I wonder what was going on, on the inside, when he saw the armies, when he saw the walls of Jericho, when he looked into the eyes of children he was supposed to protect. How much doubt did he have when God asked him not to go with a sword, but with singing?

I see him out there on the wide plains having a crisis of faith.

What kind of strength did it take to choose to believe…

Did we think faith could be had without a fight? Or trust given without a cost?

What kind of hope in God does it take for a woman with AIDS who walks with a limp to stand up and say,

“Some answered prayers come slowly.”

Here we are on the edge of the Jordan. Here we are staring up at the stark walls of Jericho. Before the waters part, before the breakthrough. And the question is there—needling underneath skin, speaking in the dark before sleep:

What will you choose to believe?

I am not as brave as Joshua.

My wrestling comes in waves and in weeks, ceilings and stares and a host of unanswered questions.

I watch Plan A and Plan B circle down the toilet, along with backup Plan C. I explain to God about how much easier my life would be if He would just let me keep one of my strategies. I complain about how I’m responsible for this thing and people are depending on me or about how nervous people get when things are out of control. No one wants to put their faith in a homeless, suitcase laden girl with a business plan that keeps getting thrown out the window.

It’s not a long conversation.

Out here there are no pat answers.

Out here trust is one un-illuminated footstep at a time on a red-dirt road full of potholes.

We walk by the halos of candles in the dark.

Out here there is worship to ward off despair.
And a lot of laying down.
Our agendas, our plans, our swords.
Our self-sufficiency we wish to project to the world.
And probably our privilege to write the newsletters.

In the unknowing, before the walls come down—something is birthed.
Tenacious and clinging.
And I think it makes God smile—this thing–
that looks a lot like faith.

  • Anonymous

    Okay so I know the disclaimer was for me! I Love you so very much and I believe in you and everything God is doing in Gulu. Keep on trucking!