Faith

Gary Lenaire

February, 2022

 

Faith /fāTH/ (noun)​

Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

 

"By Faith" I am writing this. It's the first essay regarding God I have written in many years. 

In the late 1990s, I was a chaplain for a Military Department at-risk youth program. I also taught two other Bible studies each week. I was attending Bible college and deeply studying history, exegesis, theology, and the origins of scripture. I was incredibly happy with a wife and two young sons. I was being blessed in many ways, serving God and His community. 

In 1999, a series of events sent me down a path of doubt. Those events were traumatic and I began to question everything, including my faith in God. Over the next few years I became hardened and angry about some of the things I went through. "Why would God let those things happen to me?" I asked. For years I walked without faith. I eventually thought that faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit was not necessary to live in harmony with God, or the universe.

In 2020, I lost my cat who was very close to me. He was my dear friend, family. The pandemic was happening, and I could tell my life was changing. Then in 2021, both my parents died within 90-days of each other. Those events didn't impact me the way the events in 1999 did. Instead, I started to reconsider faith, something I never thought I would ever do again. It seemed impossible to me. I now know that many people were praying for me, and those prayers were answered.

Hebrews is a beautiful book. Chapter 11 reveals some powerful insights into faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Hebrews 11:1-3 

 

During my years outside of faith I wrote down some thoughts. Back in those days if you read anything I wrote about faith and God, please know that I was not looking in the right direction concerning God. I wasn't listening to God either. Those writings were my way of dealing with what I was going through and trying to justify my path. I was wrong about faith because I wasn't looking to God by faith. In my error, I was looking to humans: Human evidence, human history, human writings, human scholars, human science...all of those things that humans do can be very beneficial. However, concerning faith, only God authors that in us. When we try to "prove" God's existence through earthly / human methods, we will not be able to find God there. I looked for that proof using non-faith methods and was not able to find it. Hidden are the things of God from this world. God reveals Himself to His people and by faith His people recognize, know and serve Him.

 

People can make really clever arguments for God's non-existence using worldly methods. Without faith we are blind and cannot see God. This fact is utterly amazing, and the evil in this world influences people to believe the human devices that point to no...or inconclusive "proof" of God. That is precisely why many people lose faith during their scholarly pursuit of God. The lack of "evidence" seems so clear, so right; it is extremely compelling. It appears to them on many pages that it is simply humans that have created the God narrative and the writings about God throughout history. It is so compelling that they are often driven to agnosticism or atheism. Their focus becomes more about love for themselves (self-centered and / or selfish) and less about their love for God and others. During my years outside of faith I thought that sincere believers could lose faith because of what they find when they study church history and the early formation of scripture, and I was right, some people do lose faith in that quest. That is because they are looking to earthly evidence for God rather than seeking God by faith. Only God can grant faith in us to see Him and to escape this world and the evil that is in it. This humbling fact should build compassion in us to pray for and help those around us.  

By faith we can have a real relationship with God. Hearing God's Word gives us proper direction. That's where we know God and serve Him, by faith alone. I cannot boast about my steps in faith...because outside of the atonement of Jesus I can't take one step that pleases God. "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6

 

When we look with our human eyes at the things of this world, we are not looking to God by faith. The words in this essay were written by faith, and not by the world. All of us on the path must listen to God, by faith alone. Our God given conscience checks everything about us and the information we are pondering. Even religious information can be deceiving, especially information that wasn't given or received by faith.

for we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7