NOUN 1. something illusory, without substance or reality.
The problem with any mirage is that it looks good and offers hope until it is truly put to the test at which time it fails miserably. So many promises are made directly or indirectly by the lavish lifestyles of our superstar pastors that would suggest that to be a believer is to also receive untold blessings from on high. Such promises are by definition empty in that the thought can’t command the thinker and the child cannot birth the parent; so also is it impossible for anyone created to command the creator.
To live a life under the presupposition that by being faithful blessings will follow is much like thinking that the rain will never fall and winter will never precede spring. These events in and of themselves are wonderful depending on how they are viewed; all sunshine creates a desert devoid of live and the winter’s cleansing paves the way for the beauty of the spring.
True faith is cut from this unique bolt of cloth. The followers of Christ and Christ himself had tremendous challenges along their faith walk. To quote the Apostle Paul:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
2 Corinthians 11 24-27
Although this was the case, Paul also said:
Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
2 Corinthians 11 vs. 29
This then is the heart of true faith; holding to a defining relationship with God that lives even in the presence of life’s many challenges. These many challenges create a level of empathy and compassion that cannot thrive in any other venue.
As a logical corollary to this truth there is a unique gem buried within the Lord’s Prayer. If prayer is the mechanism of connecting with God then the Lord’s Prayer is profoundly instructive:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6: 9-13
The vocabulary of our and us throughout the prayer defines the process of connecting with God as existing in a community context. In a community context, my struggles create the necessary compassion to support you in your challenges. Your victories in like manner warms my heart and creates hope for me on my journey. In this positive context, we are profoundly connected one to another.
The another that we are connected to is also profound in that we are all in different places on our collective journeys but we are all created by the same loving creator. His image within may be burning brightly in some or blurred and tarnished in others but at one point on all of our journeys it was there. That being the case, our words of comfort and encouragement are not just for those we like or are even attracted to but rather for all that we come across on our journeys. The challenge of the faithful no matter how difficult it may be is to share grace indiscriminately that you have received undeservedly. The faithful are always engaged in the process of bringing an appropriate word of comfort and hope to whomever they come across on their travels.
True faith is a faith without stained glass windows but open doors and loving hearts where we from the context of our own honest humanity encourage and even bless others on their journeys as a testimony of the very grace that we have received.
Blessings to you on your journey.