It seems that fairytales of magical kingdoms and Bible stories with streets made of gold, have become distinguishable only by the conviction of the reader. As an educator, I often stress the importance of using factual data. However, faith is not a source that can be "sited".
Whether you are a believer or not, faith cannot be proven, it can only tested. For those who believe, this concept is best recognized through scripture, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." As eager as I am to get into a theological debate, I'll refrain and focus more on what I know from experience.
Growing up, I was a PK (Pastor's Kid) who often found herself thrown into a ritualistic structure, that never allowed for me to truly experience God's power for myself. I saw people who claimed to be saved, yet they still suffered from the lingering side effects of sin. Those side effects often kept people like myself wondering if God was real or just an excuse people used to feel better about themselves.
My real faith journey started when I was 14 years old. I attended a Christian summer camp, that ended in worship every night. One night in particular, the service concluded with a prayer tunnel. I know it sounds weird, but it was an amazing experience. Ministers lined up on both sides, kind of like a soul train line, as people came through with hands uplifted, and hearts expectant.
I didn't quite know, what I was supposed to feel, but I was open to giving it a try. As I went through the tunnel, I first remember my mind thinking, "should I be feeling something now??", "why are they passing out??", "if I pass out will someone catch me??".... Soon after, a minister whispered in my ear, "keep your mind on Christ...Just focus on Him.." Since I've never seen "Him" before I didn't know what that meant, so I closed my eyes and envisioned myself in an empty room. I didn't see a face, or hear a loud voice, but a peace and calmness covered me, like never before. The next thing I remember, was seeing a light, that exuded warmth more than it did brightness. I remember falling to my knees and crying out of amazement and fear. I stayed there kneeling, head bowed to floor, and frozen, trying not to disturb the peace that now surrounded me.
After a while, I started to hear the music that played a ballad worship in the background of my mind, and danced in that empty, warm brightness. I'm not sure how long this lasted, but I remember crying, as I began to realize that all this time, I had never left the altar, and I would have to leave this moment to engage with the world again. When I opened my eyes, just about everyone had left, and the service had ended. My mother sat patiently praying the entire time, obviously unbothered with being the last ones in the church.
After we left and proceeded to get the usual after church snacks, before returning to the cabin, I remember feeling like a fog followed me the entire night. I believe that was the night my personal faith, had been awakened. After that moment I knew it was something real to knowing Christ. Like many believers, I would later rationalize the experience away. But, I found myself coming back more and more, increasing in my faith with every stride and fall I took.
I call it a faith journey because doubt always tries to find you and keep you from walking closer to God. Doubt works against faith to discourage anyone who tries to hear from God.
Doubt says, "this cant be real..", "don't even try it...", "you'll look foolish...", but faith says, "I have nothing to lose, but everything to gain".
I challenge you today to not give in to the pressure of rationalizing faith, but seek Him for yourself and begin your own faith journey. It wont come overnight for everyone, but commit yourself to being open to His leading, pushing out doubt, and believing in His power. If you have trouble getting started, remember the words the minister told me, "keep your mind on Christ...Just focus on Him..", He'll do the rest.
"Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon."