Mindful Monday: A Faith “Hike”

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading. It is a life of faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing who makes us ‘go.’ The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.” – Oswald Chambers

I first came across this quote many years ago when I was reading the My Utmost for His Highest devotional. The verse Chambers is referencing in this quote is one from the book of Isaiah:

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

In this verse it seems we can do both — we can mount with wings like eagles AND walk and not faint.  So why does Chambers say otherwise?

To me it means we aren’t supposed to live our lives always in the “high” of a spiritual mountaintop experience.  While those times do happen and are wonderful to go through, we don’t stay there forever.  A majority of our faith walk is just that — a WALK!

I like to go hiking in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest where I live and so I can really identify with the metaphor I feel Chambers is referring to in his quote.  While it is exhilarating to get to the final destination on a hike (be it a literal mountaintop or an alpine lake or a rushing waterfall), you usually only spend a small amount of your actual hiking time there.  Which means a majority of your time is instead spent climbing a mountain or hiking along a stream or clambering over rocky, uneven ground.

Also, I have never suddenly sprouted wings and been able to soar effortlessly to the end of a hike — not matter how often I sometimes wished that might happen! Therefore, I can really relate to this idea of needing to walk and not faint as we navigate through life.

And, similar to hiking in new terrain, we really don’t quite know what this faith journey of ours will look like.  We need to have a good set of directions or we need to have a map and a compass or we need to have a guide who has been there before.  In Jesus we have all that and more!

**Here’s an old song for you based on this verse that I used to sing in church as a kid that keeps coming to mind (but we sang it with a little less of a gospel twist!)**

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Simplify

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “simplify.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

Sometimes we can make our faith too complicated, don’t you agree? At times it works better to simply things and go back to the basics of our walk with God.  To simply our faith doesn’t mean to make it simple though.  No, not at all!

I guess when I’m thinking about all this one instance comes to mind the most.  In college I worked quite a bit with international students at Talk Time where they practiced their conversational English skills and then were invited to take part in a Bible study if they wanted as well.  Remembering about helping to lead this Bible study is what made me think of the need to simply our faith.

Up until that point I hadn’t shared what my faith was all about with many people, let alone with those from another country who had never even heard about the Bible and Jesus before.  I remember struggling to boil down concepts learned from years of growing up in Sunday school and church into basic tenets that would make sense to the international students I was teaching.  It was a learning experience for us both, to say the least!

That experience made me realize all the arguing and discussion about theology and Christian morals and such that had happened in my youth group or Christian college group didn’t really matter all that much.  And it certainly didn’t prepare me for the kind of questions I was getting from the international students.

This is what I meant by simplifying our faith is not making it simple.  Their questions were deep and thoughtful and stretched me in ways I never had been before.  Most of them weren’t wanting to debate or argue but were genuinely curious what I believed and why.

And so before I could answer them I had to sit down and take a good look at this for myself (more deeply and honestly than I ever had before).  What did I believe and why did I believe in it?  Being forced to finally figure out the answers to those questions turned out to be far from simple but oh so worth it!

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)