Faith has a lot of uses. Walk the streets, surf the web…faith activity is pervasive, in pop songs, political debates, architecture, business. In some circles it’s talked about as a commodity: it’s possible to be rich in faith, like Saudi Arabia is rich in oil. There could almost be a Forbes list of the 100 most Faith-filled Organisations, or an edition of People Magazine’s “Faithiest People of 2017”. I wonder who would make the shortlist? At the top might be a Dalai Lama or Pope, or one of those faith-healers who wield their faith like a magic wand, offering miracles to seekers.
I really question whether it works that way though.
Faith is its own reward: if you have faith, then you’ve found a treasure of matchless worth. It’s almost as if you lose the gold the moment you seek something more. And if a miraculous healing were to occur it would be truly beautiful, but not as beautiful as the faith itself.
Of course, the Disciples did famously go out and perform miracles, and the Bible does endorse the laying-on of hands in prayer. But I look at verses such as Hebrews 11:3 and find myself re-imagining the narrative. It says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Matter being formed at a command. The visible coming from the invisible. There, my friends, is a picture of unearthly power. In contrast, there’s me: so very mortal and visible! Far from capable of creating worlds. I don’t get the sense that the burden of the miraculous is on my shoulders! Yet to me, there is no question that faith is mysteriously powerful.
In my life, faith has proven to be something incredible, magnificent, truly extraordinary. Via it I have accessed the divine. All the verses which extol faith in the Bible, and which testify to its miraculous potential, make sense to me! Faith indeed sees new worlds created, and orders – reorders – my own world in inexplicable ways. So much so that the Psalmist’s words, “I shall not want”, have become like a prophecy progressively being fulfilled for me. A miracle is the last of my needs, yet the first thing I wake to each morning (well, most mornings!).
At that rare and precious moment when faith mercifully dawns on you, you feel very much alive! The next impulse is not so much to question what to do with it, but to enjoy it. In reality, I think I shouldn’t be under any illusions that I can use faith to gain or achieve anything such as an honorary listing in the Faith Hall of Fame. Paradoxically, it seems that I am powerless to use faith for my own purposes, because it is using me.