Faith Ain’t Always Sweet

Faith Ain’t Always Sweet May 24, 2006

I read Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest this morning, as I do most mornings. I love the sheer honesty of his insights. In today’s entry he comments on Revelation 1:17: “And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead.”

“It may be that like the apostle John you know Jesus Christ intimately, when suddenly He appears with no familiar characteristic at all, and the only thing you can do is to fall at His feet as dead. There are times when God cannot reveal Himself in any other way than in His majesty, and it is the awfulness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair; if you are ever to be raised up, it must be by the hand of God.”

This reminds me of a prayer of Thomas Merton’s:
“Dear God, I have no idea where I’m going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself… and the fact that I think that I am following you will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe this:
I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
I hope I have that desire in everything I do.
I hope I never persist in anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it at the time.
Therefore I will trust You always, for thought I may be lost—and in the shadow of death—I will not be afraid, because I know You will never leave me to face my troubles all alone.

I do believe that during the times of greatest confusion, that they may actually be times of greatest revelation. I think Luther stated that confusion and faith are closely related. In fact, I think he said certainty and faith are opposites, enemies of each other! Here’s Barth:

“Just as surely as the recognition of the sovereignty of God overthrows all confidence in human righteousness, it sets erect no other ground of confidence. Men are not deprived of one security, in order that they may immediately discover for themselves another. No man can shelter himself behind the triumphant will of God; rather, when it is once perceived, he comes under judgment and enters into a condition of shattering confusion—from which he can never escape… neither forwards nor backwards can we escape from this narrow gorge. There is therefore no alternative for us but to remain under the indictment; and only he who remains here without making any attempts to escape, even by spinning sophistries of human logic… is able to praise God in His faithfulness…” (Barth, Romans, p. 85).

Welcome to the deep struggles of faith!

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  • joni

    wow that Thomas Merton prayer echos my heart.

  • Kurt

    I loved everything about this..I feel like this past year, I’ve doubted more than I ever have. Just about every aspect of my spirituality, my God, my faith. At the same time I feel like I’m going deeper with Him. Like I will come out on the other side better for it. I like the idea that confusion and faith are friends.

  • Kurt over in Korea!! Dude! Thanks for the comment. Many believe that the cross is the ultimate symbol of spiritual union and power. We resist these times and see them as detrimental to our development. However, they are the times when our trust must either die or deepen.