Does the concept of faith baffle you? Even as a maturing Christian with a degree in Christian Studies, I often find it perplexing to think of how much of myself I entrust to something I cannot see. I have studied the Bible cover to cover. I’ve examined the evidence in biblical, historical and archaeological reports, including those from secular sources. And I’ve heard countless personal accounts of God’s miraculous works. Including my own accounts and experiences. Yet, it all still comes down to trust.
At the core, and no matter how strongly we believe, we are all wanderers in our faith. I believe that God planned it this way on purpose.
This past weekend I participated in a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. I’ve been told it is the largest hotel in the world without a casino. It’s basically a city in a bubble. It’s huge! I got lost many times during the five days I was there. But getting lost is the fun of it…
After the event was over and the adrenaline wore off from all the mingling, networking and general busy-ness that a conference brings, I had difficulty sleeping. I needed to burn off some excess energy and all the fried food I had consumed, but I didn’t feel like going to the gym. Instead, I took a midnight walk around the hotel’s numerous meandering walkways and stairs, through atriums filled with tropical vegetation, fountains and even an actual river. I just walked and walked and walked. Down a flight of stairs, around a pathway, up another flight of stairs, and around and around again.
I wandered aimlessly, never knowing where my path would take me and rarely crossing the same path twice. But I knew that as long as I stayed within this bubble of a city, protected from the rain and cold outside, I could never wander too far to be saved. I lost my way many times, but all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and eventually I’d come back to a point of reference, or run into someone to point me in the right direction.
Faith is a lot like that. We wander, discover, question and explore, but we trust that God will never let us go too far. He protects us. Sometimes he lets us wander outside, into the wayward paths of our own free will and rebelliousness. While we must face the earthly consequences of our actions, he never leaves our side. He sends others when guidance is needed. He watches our steps.
Three years ago I wandered away from God for about six months. I was engaged to an atheist, foolishly thinking I could keep God in one compartment and my relationship with this man in another. I was so wrong and I faced the consequences of heartache and abandonment, but this has also become my testimony to God’s faithfulness and grace. He had the power to keep me from ever meeting this man, but he chose instead to let his child find out for herself. Much like we let our own children make their mistakes, knowing this is how they grow. And as any good parent does, God was ready for me with open arms when I chose to come back to Him. And while this does not condone my actions, and I am still deeply grieved over that time in my life, my faith was strengthened because of the experience.
This is why my username for this blog is faithwanderer. I often question my faith. I stray, I wander, but I always come home. As I mature in my faith I wander less and less. I’m finding freedom in what others might think is too confining or restricting.
When I rededicated my life to Christ at the age of 26 I came across Psalm 119:105. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Years later, after many more wanderings, I learned that in ancient times travelers would attach lamps to their ankles as they walked at night. It freed up their arms to carry their loads. The light cast was only enough to see the next step ahead, but then the next step would illuminate, and then the next, and so on, until the journey was complete or daylight had come.
Trust in God to guide you to that next step, allow yourself to wander beneath his provisions and protection.
I hope that I will always to be content to wander and explore, to continually seek an invisible God in a world that refuses to trust anything it cannot see. I can’t count how many times I called up to God in anger, demanding that He show Himself to me and to the world, to take away our doubt and to make us believe. But wouldn’t that make the journey a whole lot less interesting?