Last year while visiting my sister and brother-in-law we got into a discussion about faith. My mother and father were also there and I think I kind of surprised everyone when I mentioned that I was struggling with regards to my faith. You see, in my family, faith is very important. In fact, it is essential and is the foundation of all else we stand on. They seemed somewhat relieved, however, when I explained that what I’m struggling with is what it really means to have faith so I can have it more fully. There are lots of things I have been learning about faith, but right now I will share two discoveries. One is from a simile and the other from a word.
In Hebrews 11:1 it says that faith is “a hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” I have learned that faith is the “principle of action,” meaning that everything we do is based on the belief that we will get certain results. This motivates us to do what we do. Hebrews continues with a lot of examples of people who had faith and what they were able to accomplish because of this faith. It appears that with faith, miraculous things can be accomplished if we have ‘faith as a grain of mustard seed.” (see Luke 17:6 and Matthew 17:20). Seeds hold the embryonic plant, which is the life source for the future, but what characteristic does a mustard seed have that qualifies it to be used to represent faith and the kingdom of heaven? According to the Old Dominion University Bible Plant resource (http://www.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/allbibleplantslist.php), the mustard plant isn’t the tiniest of all seeds, but is a small seed in the garden which germinates very easily and rapidly, grows very quickly, and becomes one of the tallest herbs (up to 8 feet). Other references also tell how the plant and seeds are used for oil, medicinal purposes, and in cooking. So this simile helps me know that faith is not a difficult thing to grow and is extremely beneficial and important but also fragile in the sense that it is an annual and has to continually be worked, in contrast to perennials which take longer to grow but once established pretty much take care of themselves.
The other area of discovery is in the word itself. In Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for faith has reference to “trustworthiness, confidence, conviction, reliance on Christ for salvation, assurance, belief, fidelity.” (see http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=faith). I wasn’t sure what fidelity meant so I looked it up in the Webster’s Dictionary. It listed “1) faithfulness, loyalty 2) truthfulness, accuracy 3) the degree to which an electronic system accurately reproduces at its output the essential characteristics of its input signal.” I found this last definition (even with my very limited understanding of electronic systems) very interesting and enlightening because of the picture it drew. My thoughts: I came to earth with a particular mission to perform with talents and opportunities that are uniquely mine but with frailties and imperfections that are also uniquely mine. As I work through this earthly experience, my end goal is to have the essential characteristics needed to become all I have the potential of becoming. With fidelity (being loyal and committed to something true) I know at the end I will have the essential characteristics needed because I will have tapped into the power of the only one who has the power to cleanse and repair – even Jesus Christ, the creator and Savior of us all.
Now I just need to take care of this seed until it is ready to harvest.