A Question of Faith
The journey of faith is no easy path; the journey of no faith is harder still.
As I read the Old Testament, I am besieged by stories of fire coming from heaven, of plagues brought on by the people’s whining for meat and of the crushing weight of the people’s perceived expectations of God. Who is this God that I see there?
The people blamed a fire in the camp on him; they blamed a contagion that spread on him; they saw God as a finger-pointing, lighting-flashing disciplinarian, always ready to wipe the slate clean of them and their kind, never satisfied, always looking to find in them some deficiency.
I cringe to read about this God. He is unfamiliar to me. He is not the loving Father that occupies the whole of my heart. As my God, personified in Jesus, takes my hand and guides me gently, I cannot recognize this other God told about through Moses. Where is He? “I AM” seems foreign, unknown.
But do I deceive myself? Do I concentrate only on the aspects of God that don’t offend me? Do I emasculate a God who is beyond comprehension and size him down to something that fits my mindset?
We self-righteously look at the Israelites with pity as they struggle to understand this Holy God. They see him through the limited understanding of a people who have lived under rule for several generations, brought up by rigid task masters to follow rules, to obey, or to face harsh consequences in disobedience. A God of love and compassion is as foreign to them as this harsh slave-driver version is to me.
So how do we pull the scriptures together, when the Old and New are so far apart? Enter, the presence of the Holy Spirit, a whisper that speaks loudly across the span of centuries of revelation. A Presence that makes all things new, that does more than we can ask or imagine.
I stand empty at the crossroads of Old and New. I ask the Holy One to fill me up with his truth. I focus on the parts that I understand with a glimmer of hope: God came down, he died for me because His great desire is to always draw us to himself, not in a master/slave relationship but in a Father/child love bond.
And so I journey on. The faith I continue to explore is hard to find, but a mustard seed in size, growing imperceptibly larger day by day. I look beside me to the scoffers, to those who chose unbelief and who say, “You cannot reconcile these two gods. The Old and the New. Renounce your faith and die. (Job 2:9)” To them I say, my way is hard, but your way is harder. For every day, to maintain an absence of faith, you must wake up to a world without Hope and anesthetize the part of you that longs for the Truth. Your work, in quenching the Spirit, is harder than mine in feeding it. So I pray, for my faith to grow and for yours to find a way to take root. I pray with love for the believer and the unbeliever, because I know that the journey is hard.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Kindle in us the fire of your love.”