I Don’t Know What the Future Holds

…but I know who holds the future. Have you ever heard that before? It’s a catchy, thoughtful little quote that Christians like to say when things are uncertain. I’ve certainly used it for comfort at various points in my life and when I say various points, I mean when I wonder who I’ll marry or if all my mistakes have lead me miles away from where I should be or could be. Earlier this week I thought more about the word ‘trust’ and how it connects to faith. Because that ‘holds the future’ thing is really all about trust. If we really believed, like if we really, really believed, knowing that God is in control, that He really “holds the future,” that we can really trust Him completely, believing that everything that happens, happens for a reason, and even beyond that, He knows about everything that happens and that nothing happens that He hasn’t accounted for or planned on, if we believed that even with the chaos we see every single minute in our hometowns, in our states, in our country, in the world, in our heads, that He is actually in control, that He actually has a plan, that He actually isn’t surprised by anything ever, that nothing happens beyond what He allows, that there is an end goal and a finish line for all of us, that the world, as in the actual earth, is longing for Him, too, that as society crumbles and people act more and more crazy, act more and more selfish, less and less tolerant to Him and what he brings, less tolerant to those they call intolerant, even through all that, He counts the hairs on our head, He’s still got compassion for those that love him and those that hate him, He reaches out to hug us, to protect us, He loves us and even likes us, His angels are entertained by watching His creation (us) like I’m entertained watching His creation (dolphins and horses, more specifically), to really believe he can hold all the love and all the hate and all the greatness and sadness, all the victories and defeats that every one of us face, all the disappointment and all the success, all the governments that may or may not acknowledge Him, he can hold all of that in a balance that allows us to still live even when we don’t deserve it, to love even though we don’t really know how, to laugh even when we might be suffering… well, if we really believe He’s actually in control, as if He’s actually got a plan for the big future (mankind) and the little future (mine and yours)…

I don’t see how that wouldn’t change everything about everything.

I Know More Now Than I Will Ten Years From Now

I’m 31-years-old and the world is mostly at my fingertips. I’ve made plenty of mistakes but mostly I’m over that. I know what’s right and I choose to do that almost every single time I have the chance. I can sort of see, though, that there’s a lot of evil in the world. It’s seems to be spreading quickly so when I think about starting a family and bringing more children into the world, part of me wonders why I would do that to them? Do I want them to see the things they will see? Do I want to pass down to them a society that’s defined not by churches on every street corner, but by how well we all accept each other and believe everything is right? Where wrong is only wrong to those who think it’s wrong? If you believe in God, great. If you don’t, great. Jesus was cool, but so was Muhammad and Gandhi and Joseph Smith. Everyone can be right, it’s the great thing about acceptance and tolerance and it’s the future of America! Hooray. That’s not what I will be teaching my kids, if I ever have kids. Probably won’t have to worry about that, because this video hasn’t gotten me nowhere! And neither has this one!

Even with our society promoting an inclusionist behavior, and my sarcastic view on it all, I have hope still. Not sure why, perhaps it’s the faith passed down to me from my parents. Faith passed down to them from my grandparents who bore the weight of such harrowing opposition and became known as “the great generation.” Is that faith what keeps me hanging on to something, some thing that exclaims there is good in the world? There is a reason to have joy. Bring kids into the world and teach them about puppies, and rollercoasters, Coke floats, and football, freeze tag, flip flops and the beach, faith and love. Forget what our economy is doing, forget who our President is or isn’t, but teach about a deep and rooted faith in a bigger and higher and smarter and wiser and more loving Being, then there’s joy.

But I’m only thirty-one and I know less now than I did ten years ago. Wink.

What Faith Is

It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine.
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.
“The Middle” -Jimmy Eat World

During a discussion a few days ago this question arose, “What is faith?” The answers varied but most included the themes of trust, belief, and God. It’s true, when the word “faith” is spoken, it’s most often in the context of spiritual behavior. But in it’s simplest form, the word means confidence or trust in a person or thing. You have faith in the chair you sit in at work. You have faith when someone calls you that your phone will ring. Those are examples rooted in proven results. You believe your phone will ring because that’s what it’s done in the past when someone called. That’s a learned faith. There’s a second kind, blind faith. I like to think of blind faith this way: trust without experimentation. Without any testing or experiences to rely on, you still choose to believe.

During the conversation, the word “unnatural” kept coming to my mind. People that accomplish big things do so by having faith in the work they put in, faith in the operating system, faith in their ability, faith in something. But to have faith in anything is counter-intuitive. It’s not natural because we, as humans, typically don’t trust first. We experiment first. We stick our toes in to weigh if the experience will hurt us or help us. We want the best for ourselves, and having faith in something else means giving up our own comfort, or more accurately, giving up the control over our own comfort. Faith is self-denying, or else it’s not faith. And to deny yourself is not natural.

As a child, you have faith your parents will feed you because why? They’ve fed you before. In religion, whether you’re raised to believe in God, that there is no God, or anywhere in between, it could be said that all belief systems have this in common: faith is trusting something you can’t prove. When a person is asked to prove God is real, they could very easily turn the question around and ask you to prove He’s not. I’m sure both sides of that argument could produce strong evidence on why God is or isn’t real and it takes faith to believe either side. I believe God created the earth, the universe, and everything in it. I can’t prove it. But it’s easier for me to believe that than to believe little tiny particles crashed together millions of years ago and now as a result mankind (products of that crash) created something as mysteriously wonderful and technically advanced as the Motorola Drrrroooooiiiiiid. Let’s face it, Droid phones are phenoms like we’ve never seen. iPhones don’t even have a physical keyboard or free built-in navigation. I’m just saying.

People claim the earth is millions of years old. I have no doubt that carbon dating and various tests are probably accurate. But could it be true that God created the earth to look like it was millions of years old? Afterall, He created Adam as an adult male. Any test you did on him would tell you he’s an adult who’d been alive for decades, yet it may have been only days since God created him.

Adam and Eve in the garden

Those with faith in what the Bible says believe that while they are sinners, they are saved from Hell. Martin Luther expressed this quite well in his phrase: Simul justus et peccator. At the same time just and sinner. The faith that they are forgiven and justified even though they are sinners. To turn around and live that as if you’re life depended on it, that’s faith. And that’s really what faith is all about. Putting action behind what you believe.

Afterall, what good is faith in anything if it doesn’t change everything you are about? An unnatural choice to trust first.

Have you ever stared into a starry sky?
Lying on your back you’re asking, “Why?”
“What’s the purpose?” I wonder, “Who am I?”
If you’ve ever stared into a starry sky.
“Have You Ever” -Brandi Carlile