My friend Caity is making a documentary about faith stories. We were out on the street the other day with a “Tell Me Your Story” sign, and a lot of people shared stories. One man had the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed on his hand next to a picture of the mother of Jesus. A lady with a her foot in a cast explained that she didn’t sue the city for the pothole accident because she had faith that she’d be provided for. Another woman told a story about a cousin who was just caught molesting a niece and committed suicide without warning. She didn’t know where faith fit in to her story but she needed to talk to somebody about it.
Everyone seemed to sense that faith was connected to believing in something or someone beyond what they could readily “see.” They reminded me of how the writer of Hebrews in the Bible describes it; “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The writer goes on to give examples of people who made big life decisions by faith — choosing to trust and follow this mysterious something even when they didn’t receive the fullness of what they hoped for in this life. The writer indicates their longing for something that could make this life meaningful, better, more personal, and beyond what they’d already experienced.
“People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
As you might expect, I think the something that people long for and want to trust is really a someone — God as revealed in the person of Jesus. The confidence comes in by exercising our faith. By getting it out of our heads and into the realm of action. This is where the miracles happen: in doing the project, making the move, having the conversation, showing up to the meeting, keeping the love alive. I can honestly say that the more I step out and act on my faith in Jesus (even when I’m scared) the more hope and healing I see in the world.
Our Circle of Hope is an opportunity to exercise that faith together. Our confidence is not in the strength or authenticity of our faith or even of its particularities. Our hope is in the subject and the object and the verb of our faith: the Spirit of God who is alive and redeeming the world.