Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Faith in Practice

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned….

Isaiah 43:2

Once while squeezed in a waiting area of Chicago's O'Hare Airport I heard enthusiastic singing. Twisting around I caught a glimpse of the TV showing singing, clapping, joyous Haitians. The streamer at the bottom of the screen read,  "Haitians find their faith gives them strength." It seemed absurd. An earthquake had devastated their lives, the death toll was staggering and yet they sang songs of praise. I was witnessing their faith in practice. They were praising the presence of God even as they breathed death.

Experience has told me that life is painful. I didn’t learn to walk without falling down or mountain bike without getting a concussion! So, why should I expect my spiritual growth to be any different?

Eugene Peterson says, "growing up and growing up in Christ are the same thing."

When I first heard his sage advice twenty-five years ago I left the room completely confused. How could they possibly be the same? Well with each passing year I keep falling down! But it seems that with each "flood" and "fire"  my body, soul, mind and heart have been strengthened.

When I embrace God's presence, within each "fire" or "flood", the possibility of becoming more like Jesus increases. After a history of struggle, the singing Haitians understood  that "fires" were inevitable. But they sang for joy that God's presence was with the living and the dead. They could not be consumed.

Jesus, you have power over water and fire!
With head bowed, I accept my floods and fires
 that will keep me growing up in You.

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