The Ebb and Flow of Faith

I would like to be constantly strong. I would like to see consistency in my day-to-day life. I would like to love always–perfectly and unconditionally. I would like to know fully and be confident in every belief I have, every decision I make, and every action I undertake. I would like this to be so . . .

. . . But it is not to be. I find a rhythm in my life that is almost as unrelenting as the tides—an ebb and a flow.

Sometimes I am strong, then often I fall over.

Sometimes I am amazed by the consistency in my thoughts and actions, but other times I am frustrated with its lack.

Sometimes I find it easy to love and see others as the beloved pursued by an ever-loving God. Sometimes I find it far easier to judge and condemn and spout forth vitriolic words that have no place in anyone’s vocabulary.

Sometimes I am fully persuaded—I know that I know that I know—beyond any shadow of a doubt, but often I question, second-guess, doubt, ask the “What if” questions, and admit that I don’t really understand.

Sometimes I have faith, unswerving belief, in God, in God’s revelation, in God’s promises. Often I wonder if I ever could fully believe.

I am sometimes strong as St Stephen standing before the leaders of his nation and taking on the role of a prophet saying, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised [so not a compliment to devout Jews] in heart and ears . . . As your fathers did, so you also do.”

Other times I am more like St Thomas who didn’t believe Jesus had risen until he was confronted with the reality of his presence in the room. Even then, in spite of all he had seen, saying, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

So much like the tides, demonstrated on the beaches and estuaries of the world with ebbs and flows, out and in, falling and rising, so my faith retreats and surges, falls and rises in a somewhat rhythmical way. And while I may be led to believe that this is not the way it should be–that I should at least put on the appearance of all-togetherness and keep whistling the happy tune of victory–I see this is part of what is meant by being fully human.

And in my Divinely-created and sanctified humanity, I am able to grasp more fully the mystery of faith. “Now we know in part” is a call to our human-ness that there is hope for resolution, promise that this is not as good as it gets. For one day we shall be fully aware, beyond any doubt, just as the all-seeing and all-loving God fully knows us in the midst of all our ebbs and flows.


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