Faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
I love Martin Luther King, Jr’s quote, “Faith is taking the first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
All I can think of when I read this quote is trying to make it up the staircase in the Currituck Lighthouse. Being slightly claustrophobic, it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. If someone is coming up close behind me, I panic. There’s nowhere to go! There’s nothing to hang onto. The wall is slick as glass. If you lose your footing, there’s no place to go but down!
Several years ago, my granddaughter would hear none of my whining about not going up to the top of the lighthouse. She literally pushed me up the first step and became my encourager with each step I took after that. “You can do it, Nana!”
I thought I was doing really well. I finally took my eyes off my feet and actually looked ahead. Then this rotund man decided I was going too slow and squeezed past me, causing me to almost lose my balance. It was not a pretty sight. But my granddaughter put her hand on my back and said, “I’ve got you, Nana!”
My granddaughter’s hand became a physical presence of reassurance and faith that I could make it up those steep, winding, narrow steps. Plus I knew her, trusted her. Our relationship and love gave me extra comfort.
But what about God? How do I establish faith in an unseen God?
Trust me, I’ve struggled with this. Wondering. Questioning. When I shared my doubts with a sweet, elderly woman in my church, she said, “Read the Bible.” Read the Bible? I left thinking the woman was a simpleton; she hadn’t helped me at all. Just read the Bible?
I picked at verses and chapters, nothing made sense. I went back to my church friend and announced, “I’m so confused. Where do I begin?” She looked at me as if I had two horns and pronounced, “Read John! Get to know your Savior.” I didn’t question her.
Her advice began my daily journey into discovering faith. Let me confess, crawling into the Bible wasn’t easy. It was often hard to digest, being firm, bold, and relentless. Then one day, I ran across Romans 10:17. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
I remembered my friend’s words. She didn’t tell me what faith was. She sent me to the source to find it for myself. That’s when I declared her to be a spiritual genius. Well, in my limited knowledge of geniuses, she was a genius!
“To one who has faith no explanation is necessary, to one without faith, no explanation is possible.” (Thomas Aquinas)
Faith is too grand to be fully explained. It is a way of life, an awakening to something more than we can ever become. Faith comes through a relationship with Jesus.
Last summer, I sat staring up at the lookout area on top of Currituck Lighthouse. With a huge sigh, I went inside, paid my entry fee, walked to the first step, and hesitated. Looking up at the circular steps I uttered, “Jesus, you’ve got my back on this one.”
I kept my head up, imagining Jesus walking ahead of me and standing behind me. My breath stabilized. With each step, I became more confident. By step sixteen, I could have cried. We were doing it. I wanted to high-five Jesus, but stopped when I heard two teenagers say, “excuse me”. The next few steps were swallowed up behind a wall. I could not see them, and the teens were shoving and pushing one another to see who could climb up faster.
I reached into my pocket, grabbed the index card I had placed there the night before, and read, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of the faith is to see what you believe.” (Saint Augustine)
My back straightened. I could almost feel the light pressure of a hand. Taking one step at a time, I began my ascent. Two more people passed me. I kept moving forward. When I reached the top, I realized the journey wasn’t really about climbing Currituck Lighthouse. It was about confirming my faith. It was a pivotal moment for me, one that continues to be affirmed
“The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”