Just when I think life belongs to me, to my holding and control, I discover again that the tide swelling and receding is more than me. Life is more than I can handle most days. I’m not wise enough to know better, not patient enough in waiting and not brave enough to win.
No, I’m sinking more than swimming. Most days, that is.
I doubt myself in quiet moments because I, better than anyone else, know myself - the brooding moods and disdain for all that I am not but think I should be.
The ancients spoke, ‘know thyself’, as a placard upon their heart and a reminder of the actual, true heart within, not the one fought or hoped for. In the quiet, apart from busy moments when I matter to the whole world and its saving, I hear confession ring in my own heart, ‘I know thee well.‘ The small of heart, the tangle of thought, the twisted, contradiction of declaration and action, all reveal me just as I really am - a man not settled well with faith. Cracks exist that pull open unresolved pieces of life, and a continuous loop of questions and fears play soundtrack to the tension.
Then comes the regress.
How much faith must my heart own to measure up in difficulty, to guide my kids when they protest to being led at all and trust that good often lies enmeshed in struggle?
I wonder for the mere fact that it never feels enough. Even in my brightest of moments, a poverty lurks unaffected by faith swelled higher than the worn marked levels of usual depth.
“Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
There is no easy resolve in these words which invite us into the impossible. Still, try as we may, we will never get there, not gripped to faith stored and accumulated. When faith is a static value measured in our doings, faith will always be mustered, manufactured, and little - ever enough. You will always come up short gathering little crumbs that never satisfy. And of course, the gathering of these little crumb moments when we seem to have it all together only to be reminded again of apparent weakness and deficiency in faith absent times doesn’t work well with our culture speak of we’re always okay. We conclude, faith doesn’t work and neither does God realize or care.
Perhaps, this is precisely the mystery of faith’s function - in the interaction with our frailty, when, in our poor, empty pockets we find no answer strong enough to withstand the stress of storms and frivolity of our selfish hearts. Perhaps, we find the starting line here, not heralded in the sweetness of life gone right, but in the sour of our weakness.
Faith sounds more like a hushed whisper in a crushing moment than a mighty word on a sunny day. It is the small confession that we are not in ourselves gods able to sustain.
And this is a good place to find again, weary-pressed against the mountainside with enough trust to ask for movement.