I woke up this morning with a “Summer Head Cold”. (It is still Summer here in Costa Rica, even though my Minnesota friends have recently had another foot of snow dumped on them in a rare “Spring storm”.) I automatically wondered, “Where did this cold come from?” I spent a few minutes reviewing the events of my week, searching for a particularly germy location where I could have picked up a bug. It was a toss up between being at school with 150 children or spending hours in the Immigration office, which was air-conditioned. Costa Ricans firmly believe that a rapid change in temperature can make you sick (or kill you). Apparently they were proven right today. It’s no more ridiculous than American mothers ordering their children to put on hats to prevent a cold.
Anyhow, once I had settled on a possible source of my cold, I actually felt more at ease. Silly, I know. I am one of those people who feel better with more information. When things are left vague, I am uneasy. I am hard-wired to sift through the grains of life searching for nuggets of information to guide my decision-making. When I can’t find those nuggets or the sifter is torn from my hands, I feel like life is out of control. I am programmed to search for purpose and meaning in life.
For me, faith is going forward with insufficient information. I do not consider it faith when I witness a miracle, or when I pray in another language, or when I observe the physical effects of contact with the spirit world. No, for me those things are logical manifestations of the supremacy of our God. We should by fact have a physical reaction when a Superior Being gets close to us- that’s normal, in my mind. That requires no faith, for me.
Where I am stretched is when I am required to take a step without being totally secure of my data-base, when I don’t see a purpose. If I know the WHY, I can proceed without fear. If I know the final destination of these steps, the WHERE, then I can walk forward without concern. If I can see an obvious HOW, then I have no reason to draw on my faith. But when those questions are left ambiguous, or worse when they are completely unaddressed, then I frantically cast about for something else to hold on to like a drowning person searches for a life preserver. The thing I seize upon is where my faith is anchored: the personality of God. God is the rope that I cling to.
What I believe God to be is the core of faith. I cannot see Him. But I can see the EVIDENCE of what he is, of who he is. Just like I can’t see wind, for example, but I can see the evidence that wind exists- so it is with God. Having faith is like being a forensic investigator. We have to look for clues, finger prints, that God was here. We build up our knowledge of him, our data-base, which gives us a larger and stronger rope to grab on to when the trail has taken an unexpected turn or the lead has gone cold. In those times, when I am left without a WHY or a HOW or a WHERE I hold onto the rope, which is my faith in who God is.
I say to myself, “I don’t know why I am going through this, but I know that God has already approved this trial because he is all knowing. He is in control and nothing surprises him. He has promised that he only has good plans for me. He will not harm me.” When I can’t make sense of my reality, I hold onto my faith in the Goodness of Almighty God. God is always good… even when I have a cold.