Faith feels like the bottom dropping out of life. In a good way.
I know, I know–faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). But there’s so much mystery, so much that we can’t wrap our heads around, so much that confounds any attempt on our part to put together a faithful story. My faith gives me assurance, but not foreknowledge. Faith is a skittery thing–at least for me. I experience faith as sinking into the unknown, as giving away certainty and control, as stepping out even though I don’t know all the steps. The essential markers along the path of faith are signs of relinquishment: repentance, trust, offering, communion, the heart-piercing word.
Fear feels like the bottom dropping out of life too, but in the worst way. Fear can take a perfectly fine summer afternoon and yank some lever, tug along some shadowy pulley, and the floor of the world goes clittery clop drop. There we are, wondering just what to do next. Reptile brain to cerebral cortex: fight or flight! Who am I and what am I supposed to do or say or be in this moment? The bottom drops right out from underneath us.
Where faith counters fear is not in the assurance of control–not even God’s control–but in the assurance of love. John wrote in his first letter that love “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). This is the assurance of God’s love toward us, and our openness and vulnerability to that love. In love, we commit to go with Jesus into whatever he’s calling us. We learn to trust in the God who loves us beyond sickness, beyond loss, beyond confrontation, beyond death.