What does that mean? A word that is so loosely used in our world. “Have faith” “Keep the faith” “Faith can move mountains” “Faith over fear”. But WHAT really is faith? What does this word even mean? I have it tattooed on my wrist, but why? Faith is not solid matter. We can’t touch it or taste it. But can we feel it? Can we hear it? Can we see it? Scripture tells us that faith is what we hope for, the assurance of things we cannot yet see (Hebrews 11:1). But how does this word take form in our life?
I have come to realize that faith shows up in many ways and variations in my life. Sometimes my faith is strong and I am on top of the world, with no doubt of anything at all. I’m eternally optimistic, I can easily encourage someone else who is wavering and life is as they say “peachy.” And then other times my faith is holding on by a thread, my knees shaky from this harsh world. I lose my grip on that assurance, questions and doubt fill my mind. Thoughts come in from all different directions, each one fighting to distract me from what I know to be the truth. Butterflies, no actually that’s too pleasant, killer, mean butterflies saturate my stomach and fill me with an uneasiness that makes it hard to breath. Are the words even there to pray?
There is a famous book by Joyce Myer called “Battle of the Mind”; this is an appropriate description because the mind DOES battle in these moments. And when the mind battles, it battles against my spirit, my life force. It battles against the God who lives within me through the Holy Spirit. It battles to defeat my faith, its goal is to make me crumble. My mind battles with a fierce vengeance so I will not believe. The mind is one of the enemy’s favorite tools against us.
But then suddenly, in the middle of the chaos, amidst worry, fear, angst, racing thoughts and doubt, comes a small, still voice within. I hear words that are familiar, but they are not words that I am saying, they are words that are being spoken to me. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope, not to harm you.”
God speaks and reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11. Like a reassuring parent, He is there in the dark, in the disarray of my mind, telling me all will be okay. He is gentle, He doesn’t get mad at me for questioning or doubting, He simply reassures me and continues to do so until He knows I am restored.
A deep breath is taken in and a calm feeling washes over me, a sense of peace in the middle of the raging storm. My heart returns to its normal rhythm, and I am reminded of one thing. Faith. Yes, I have it. It is there. It has not left me. It lives within me.
I CAN hear it. God speaks faith into me every minute of every day. I just have to be quiet enough to hear Him.
I CAN feel it. I feel calm and confident even when the outer world says otherwise.
I CAN see it. The words of my bible, that I have underlined and highlighted so many times throughout the years, enter my mind and they are like a warm blanket, they are like a familiar loving face and soon, I see life with light and hope, not darkness and despair.
My assurance returns. The things I long for but cannot yet see are no longer impossible, they are completely attainable. Nothing is beyond my grasp. I have the power to manifest anything I truly desire and God speaks life and hope into me…..”Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)
Yes, my faith is like a fire burning within my soul, a flame that can never be put out. The times when my faith wavers, when I question what God has for me, it does not mean my faith is weak. No, the opposite is true. It means I’m growing. I am evolving. God is testing my faith. It’s like when a fire is set to a field. The field gets scorched and turns black and for a while, it looks dead. It just sits there looking lifeless and ugly. But with time it becomes clear, that there is no death at all, there is life. The new, green grass starts to poke through the black, dead grass. Soon, there is more green than there is black, and soon after that, there is no black at all. A brand-new field begins to grow and it is actually greener and more vibrant than before.
It is like this with my faith. It may be scorched, it may be dormant within me for a time. It may feel and look lifeless, it may even be ugly. But without fail, life begins to poke through again. Faith takes root each time it is tested and becomes stronger than the time before. It’s like the green grass poking through the black. It starts poking out small, and then more and more and then eventually, it is brand new, it is restored. There is no black at all, the doubt is gone and it is greener and more vibrant than before. Assurance has taken root again, faith has been reborn, peace that transcends all understanding takes hold and light illuminates the dark shadows of my mind.
Yes, faith is tattooed on my wrist, but it is truly tattooed on my soul.
This is faith.
This is God.
This is me.