I read a blog post some time ago written by CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson. It was very touching and thought provoking. Even though I felt his belief system disregarded basic salvation truths, I enjoyed it, and it made me think about why I believe what I believe.
My earliest memories are steeped in faith. Memories of my mother singing or humming songs like Amazing Grace and Sweet Hour of Prayer as she rocked me when I felt unwell. Memories of trekking off to our small church three times on Sunday and to Camp Emmanuel for two weeks every summer. My young mind was imprinted with the picture of an all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful creator who loved me.
Some might think I was easily brainwashed as a child and that now, decades later, my faith is based on tradition and nothing else. Others might say that faith at any age is simply a choice, as L.Z. Granderson suggested, because there is no proof of God’s existence visible to our earth-bound eyes. And, anyway, didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”?
That might have been the case for me when I was a little girl, and for many adults even now. Many start out that way, making the choice to believe. Some, on the other hand, look for reasons to believe first, and find them.
There are, in fact, reasons to believe right in front of us. Psalm 19 tells us that the sun, the moon, and the stars speak every day. Their voice is heard throughout the whole earth declaring that a creator exists. Romans tells us that the invisible things of God are clearly seen by the things that are made, so there’s no excuse for anyone to say there is no sign of his presence.
But why did he say we are blessed when we believe before we see? It might be because, in our broken earth, we often have to believe in the face of contradictions. But I think he said it because the process of “believing to see” is one of the Ways of the Kingdom.
Remember when Jesus talked to his friend Martha about this kind of believing? The “believing-before-I-see” kind of faith? And obviously not just believing in him, but also believing him. When her brother lay dead in a tomb and she was trying to deal with the discrepancy between her reality and his claim, he said, “Martha, didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). Martha, I’m telling you believing is not the end. It’s the starting point.
Every result of believing produces yet another reason to believe what you can’t yet see. Another building block of a life of fellowship with the creator God who never planned to be way up there, out of sight, but planned to be Emmanuel, God with us.
And I guess that’s why my faith, my belief in God’s existence (and my belief in his love and integrity and, therefore, in what he says) is firm today. From childhood days to this day, I’ve seen what he’s done over and over, in nations and in my own little life, in faithfulness to what he has promised. As my years have passed, I’ve seen the beauty of God’s faithfulness to his Word, and that has spoken so much louder than the voice and beauty of nature. I’ve seen the wisdom and the power and the love of God. I’ve known his self-proclaimed name to be, quite simply, true.
I wasn’t there with John when he followed Jesus around the dusty roads of Galilee, but after decades of walking with Jesus, not without challenge and not perfectly, I can say with the beloved disciple:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life, (for the life was manifested and we have seen it, and bear witness) … declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus” (1 John 1:1-3).