I have just finished reading Hebrews, it is because of that book that I decided I needed to read the whole Bible from beginning to end. More specifically it is because of Hebrews 11 that caused me to devote the last year and half to reading (at times plodding) through the Word of God. I counted the word "faith" used in Hebrews 11 at least 22 or 23 times. And as I read that chapter I understood it more, I knew who the people (patri and matri-arches) were. I had heard of them before, but I didn't know who they were and what they had done. As I read through the chapter my travels through the old testement were refreshed and I was able to "get it."
Faith is defined this way in Hebrews 11: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." It is defined this way in my American Heritage Dictionary: "A confident belief; trust." Here is what Wikipedia says about faith. And, because I want to be thorough, here is what Oxford English Dictionary says about faith. My definition is this: having confidence in something that is not provable,. I suppose I could prove why the sky is blue, or why the grass is green, but I can't necessarily prove that that there is a God, I believe there is, but I can't prove it.
Faith to me, though, is much like a pilot light or bunsen burner (hence the pictures); it burns brighter sometimes and not so bright other times. I often ask myself "Loof, how's your faith today?" And sometimes I have to answer: "not too bright." Other times, I can answer "burning bright and hot." Lately, it has been burning somewhere between the two. Its giving off heat and light, but not enough to read by or keep my feet warm, if you get my meaning. I'm not sure why. The Lord continues to bless me daily. My basic needs are met and I am surrounded by people who care and love me. My prayer life is strong, but the old Faith light has dimmed a bit. Today, though, it is different.
I never thought much about my Faith until about six years ago; I had been student teaching, but had a "breakdown." Basically I had had a nervous breakdown in the classroom and withdrew from student teaching halfway through (five weeks away from completion). I was exhausted and it just wasn't going well. I was student teaching in Houston and I had to go to Austin to officially withdraw. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I had to be on campus by 11 so I could go to the Chapel service. I just had to be there so I left early and got to Austin with about five minutes to spare. That day was going to be instrumental to my faith base. Rev. John Nunez was the preaching that day and I believe that it is because of him that I am still a Christian (let alone a Lutheran) to this day. I was, to be honest, at the bottom of my faith barrell... he gave a homily that day that literally found me and turned me around. He based his message on Psalm 23 verse 4: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." And through those words he spoke directly to me. I am sure that there were other people in the chapel that day, I'm sure of it, but I don't remember any one there, but me. If there was ever a day that I needed the Lord to grab me by the ear and guide me it was that day. Rev. Nunez helped me get back on a footing that was solid. Right around this time I read this:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you...”and my pilot light/bunsen burner faith glowed brighter. Not only was my selfworth somewhat restored, but the knowledge (through faith) that God was with me and, as I like to say, "had my back" I was able to keep going. Those were dark days for yours truly. If ever I needed a liferaft to keep afloat in the great sea it was then. But the Lord blessed me and kept me, he lead me through the valley of shadows. I was made stronger. And therein was Rev. Nunez's message. I was a living example, a living, breathing object lesson.
His point was this: the key word to that whole sentence is "through." You will come out on the other side. It might seem rough while you are in the "valley," if you will, but you have to go down into a valley to appreciate the view from the mountain top. That valley of student teaching was a deep and scary one, but I did come through it and, I believe, stronger because of it.