Faith Doesn’t Matter

Pushing against the open wound of the nail stuck in his foot, his human body pressed against the shocking pain until his chest was able to gasp and then he released, feeling the choking pressure against his chest.  Beyond the worst day in history, his was the worst life.  No other suffering on earth could begin to even comprehend his bursting heart that bled water and blood at the rejection of his Father, the breaking of the Trinity, perfect holiness carrying the burden of complete sin.

Mary looked on, her mind overcome with what she beheld.  She is the only mother that, rightly, ascended her son to her personal God.  She remembered the miracle of the joy of a virgin birth announced by the Angel Gabriel.  Her marriage with Joseph had forever been bonded with the realization that they had been sent here to raise the God of the Universe.  Her life, her faith, her son, her everything hung in agonizing pain and she could do nothing to relieve him.  Everything was dying here.  Satan had won.

He, literally, stood in heaven in the very presence of God himself.  Lucifer was the director of the choir, spending his days in worship of God Almighty.  His voice, his body, his eternal life was beyond beauty, it was heaven.  He, literally, spent his days in the perfection of heaven.  Lucifer believed in God, as real as anything he had ever seen, touched, or experienced in any capacity.  If there was even this life that he lived, he knew it was created by God that sat upon his throne.  And yet Satan turned.  And he was flung into the fiery pit of Hell.  Even the demons believe, believe in the one true God of the Universe, and their belief does not save them.

My Western culture holds tight to few things, but remaining in the hearts of the vast majority of Western thinkers is the foundation of LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.  And I will take it!  I cling, with those that vary so much from me, to the belief that these ideals have made my home nation who we are today.  We are a people that stop whatever we are doing to fight for freedom, as well we should.  We believe that one life is important, we believe in holding debates and agreeing to disagree, we believe in differing opinions and a different perspective of personal happiness, and we believe in not taking away those rights from our neighbors.  But somewhere along the way, this belief was skewed into the belief of believing:

“Believe whatever you want to believe.”

“It does not matter what you believe, as long as you have enough faith.”

And this is why we see our culture beginning to crumble.  From inside the church, inside the educational system, inside government, and the very core of our foundation:  the family. We are falling apart because we no longer cling to right and wrong, we believe that as long as you believe in something, that is all that matters.  But what if BELIEF DOES NOT MATTER.  Faith is not what saves us.  Even the demons believe and shutter.

If you want a religion of faith, there is none greater than Islam.  Muslims believe so wholeheartedly in the afterlife that parents proudly offer up their children to jihad.  Wealthy husbands leave their life of comfort and their wives and children behind to strap bombs to their chests and die in the fight.  WHY?!  This blows our Western minds!  IT IS BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH!  It is because they believe more boldly than the majority of Christian believers believe in their God that Allah is going to send them straight to a world of bliss where there will be more pretty girls waiting for them than they can comprehend.  According to the words of the Qua-ran, girls that will never have to blow their nose or menstrate, girls with beautiful dark eyes, girls that can not take their eyes off of their martyr hero.  And these men will have supernatural ability to have sex over and over again.  This is why they want to leave this world as quickly as they possibly can!  Because they have so very much FAITH!

So, why are Westerners running out of the church as soon as they are off to college?  Why are Christian marriages just as likely to end in divorce as any?  Why does our culture now criticize and despise Christians?  Why are followers labeled as hateful as soon as they mention their God?  IT IS BECAUSE FAITH HAS BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WESTERN CHURCH!

Now, Am I splitting hairs here?  Don’t I, myself, speak of my faith and praise faith?  Yes!  An extremely important side note is that FAITH IS IMPORTANT, FAITH PERFORMS MIRACLES, FAITH IS NECESSARY AND GREAT!  So, what am I complaining about?  And it is this:  Faith is not the most important, LOVE is!

Love is why Jesus nailed himself to the cross.  Love is why Mary will be in heaven even when she lost all faith at the foot of the cross.  The absence of love is why Satan was thrown out of heaven and into eternal damnation.  The absence of love is the leader of jihad.  And the absence of love is why the American church is falling apart.

Love restores marriages.  Love rescues families.  Love gathers people to church (not rules!). Love saves lives!  The only answer is love.

AND THESE THREE REMAIN:  FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.  BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

Expecting Faith

The smell of the donkey rose to my nostrils the entire day so that I did not pay it attention anymore.  His prickly, thick, coarse hair rubbed my legs, even through my long robe.  The road was bumpy, we had traveled the entire day.  My lower back ached from pregnancy.  Pregnancy.  I was pregnant.  No doubt about that!  Every bump seemed that it would bring the new babe into this world.  I looked up and smiled at my companion.  Walking slowly and patiently beside me, never complaining, leading the donkey, and carrying another bag of supplies in his other hand.  Such faith.  He had so much faith to just believe the things that I told him.  My heart was overflowing with thankfulness for the man that walked by my side.  Placing my hand under my large belly and gently rubbing, I was lost in thought.  It was worship.  Worship for the God that grew in my belly.

Faith of Cancer

We should have named her Ariel.  Madison is a fish.  Born in Florida, raised in the pool, she is at home in the water.  At the age of 3, I removed her floating aid and decided that I was going to teach her to swim.  She pushed away from me and took off kicking through the water.  No one ever told her that was something she was supposed to learn.  It goes to reason that she is now on the swim team.  An amazing swim program with amazing facilities.

Last night, I sat with her Daddy at swim practice.  At the far end of the olympic pool, there is a high dive.  Occasionally, the coaches let the younger kids wander over to the massive giant and take the leap.  First timers take the ladder with shaking knees, climb to the top, take a look over the edge, and then almost always climb back down to safety.  After a few times of this march, they eventually push their nerve over the end, screaming the whole way down.

Last night, a lone girl stood with her coach beside the skyscraper high dive.  She climbed the ladder with confidence.  She grabbed our attention.  We fixed our gaze as she walked to the end and stopped.  Time paused. Slowly, she bent at a 90 degree angle.  Arms stretched out straight to her side.  Balance gained, she lifted her toes.  Paused.  Fixed.  If there had been a slight breeze from behind, she would have tipped over the side, but she stood.  She stood in strength and she stood in confidence.

The leap of faith.  The lighting of the torch.  The bullet ignited.  It was so graceful, I wanted to stand.  She slowly tipped over the side, soaring through the air with the most captivating beauty and grace.  A perfect swan dive.  The beauty was in the falling, not in the safety of returning to the pool.

Life is scary.  We climb life hurdles with our knees knocking, scared to death.  The diving boards are such huge scary monsters that we do our best to avoid.  And then we have no option, we kick and scream and we don’t want to, but we are forced over the edge.  Jesus is the Diving Team.  He is the best facility available.  He is the coach that never takes his eyes away.  Once you have done it, there is nothing to fear.  Fall into his mercy.  Fall into his grace.  Fall in to his loving arms with resolute confidence.  Cancer is one graceful swan dive.

Once you have taken the plunge, the standard diving board, Nothing.  I jump right off that thing like it never existed.  Once I have, literally, fallen on my knees and prayed for the health of my three month old, financial problems don’t make me blink.  Once I have been covered with scars and swelling, the popularity club doesn’t seem worth my time.  Loss of a job.  Transfer of schools.  Social drama.  Political upheaval.  Dreams crushed.  Swan dive in to the arms of my Jesus.

I have the faith of cancer.