Almost everyone, I think, wants to know how to have an unshakable faith. We want to live our lives so that we believe even when it doesn't seem there's anything to believe in, so that we hope when all hope is lost, so that we trust when we can't see the next step. We want faith to step into the fire, but all of that seems easier said than done.
How do we develop an unshakable faith when this world seems set on rocking us to our core?
I don't know.
Sorry - I know you're used to more confident answers from me, and you were probably hoping that I was about to reveal the secret to the kind of faith that we're all searching for. But the truth is, I just don't know. I know it's possible. I've seen it happen, and I'm watching it happen. But I don't know how it happens. I can't even pretend to understand the ways in which God works.
I think part of our problem is that we think that faith is the foundation of our relationship with God. It's not. Faith, hope, trust, even love - these are not the foundations on which our relationship with God is based. Our relationship with God has to be based on God Himself, on His heart, on His character, on His goodness; that's the only thing that doesn't change.
And what I've found - and what I'm finding - is that faith is merely a landscape.
Faith builds mountains, places where our confidence in God has soared. High peaks where we stand on top of the world and look out over all of the Promised Land, sure of who God is, who we are, and all His promises.
Faith carves valleys and canyons, places where it's been harder to believe. Places where the shadows are cast in all kinds of crazy directions, and the only thing we know for sure is that the ground underneath us hasn't changed - God is still God, but here, the light dances with darkness. And somehow, this is part of faith, too.
Faith digs trenches, the places where it buckles down. Places where it digs in hard, seeking refuge or comfort or protection. These are some of the hardest places, places of grief, of pain, of insecurity. Places of questions that don't seem to have answers.
And faith fills those trenches with joy, the joy that flows down from the mountains and rushes through even these hardest places. Joy that overflows the banks of our trenches, spills out over the plains into even the dullest, most boring places of our lives.
Faith forms oases in the deserts. It carves out caves in the hills. It sets up altars on the seashores and traces footprints in the sands. Faith creates this beautiful landscape of believing, draws out the map of our very lives.
But it never changes the ground on which we stand, which is the very foundation of all things - the truth about who God is.
It doesn't sound like much, maybe, but it's everything. It's everything because it changes the way that we think about faith. If we accept the understanding that faith is nothing more than the landscape, that the ground remains the same, then we can start to just roll with the punches. We can start to just take life as it comes. We can let it change us, let it shape us, let it put new landmarks on our maps. We can watch the horizons expand and the sun rise and the shadows dance without fear, without worry, for the foundation of all that we have is solid - it is God Himself; it's just the landscape that is changing.
And it's beautiful.
So what's the secret to unshakable faith? I don't know. But I think maybe it's something like this.
At least, that's what I'm coming to find out.