Each week I will be posting Jake's Thought for the Week which he sends out to all the parents in his Kingdom Hoops program. Here it is for this week:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Henry David Thoreau once wrote:
'The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.' Faith is a seed of infinite potential. Faith holds all possibilities within it. Yet, what does faith mean in our modern age of reason? Faith seems not quite natural to the modern mind. Mind is rational while faith is irrational. Mind is logical; faith illogical. In our modern culture, we have become more dedicated to doubt than to unbridled possibility. We are more committed to the calculations of the rational mind, than to the holistic wisdom of spirit. We have zeroed in on a partial reality, without taking into account the larger picture right in front of us waiting to be discovered.
This past weekend my family made our annual trip to Minnesota to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa Sullivan and of course to see Uncle Nick. It was a weekend of great fun!! On Friday we hung out as a family catching up on everything you just can’t catch up on via email or over the phone. On Saturday we had our annual labor day trip to the Minnesota State Fair, and Sunday brought a journey to the Mall of America with great anticipation of Grandma and Grandpa Sullivan spoiling us all - even at the age of 27 years old. :)
As we finished shopping on Sunday afternoon and piled back into the car to head back to the house for dinner I began preparing myself for the questions my Dad would have for me when we got home. You might be wondering just what these 'questions' are all about. Well, every visit home my Dad - who has worked in Law Enforcement for over 30 years, has been the Police Chief in Oakdale, Minnesota for the past 22 years, and has a PHD in Business Law - challenges me with questions surrounding my career, family, and any of the other crazy things I may be up to. Ever since I was a young boy I never followed the beat to the same drummer as everyone else and my Dad realized this very early on. So, while I would be making life altering decisions that quite often seemed out of this world it was accompanied by a couple hundred questions to make sure I was thinking through everything clearly.
Some of you may be thinking my Dad is crazy.....and you are right! But I love this part of my trip home more than any other part as it forces me to be able to clearly communicate my vision and sharpens my focus on the details. Most of the time when I am released from the stand I am left pondering many valuable points of view and it allows me to be more successful when I return back to my real life in Iowa.
I am always well prepared for these question and answer sessions. Over the years I have come to understand what my Dad is going to ask and thus have a great response waiting on the tip of my tongue. I also understand that no matter what my answer is he is going to play on the opposite team and ask even harder questions that I may not have thought through.
So, I figured as we all headed out to the deck waiting on the pizza to arrive Sunday evening that I would be able to answer all of his questions with clarity because there was no stone unturned in my eyes.
However, this night things were a little different. Of course I had great answers with questions regarding Kingdom Hoops on a general business side, I had all the answers about 'why Africa?', and had every detail in precise order. That was until my Dad asked me the following questions: What happens if A, B, and C don’t all happen for Kingdom Hoops - how will you feed your family? What happens if you adopt these two young boys from Africa and they resent you for removing them from their country? What happens if you adopt these two young boys and it ruins what you have right now for your family? Why would people trust you with their money in Africa when people before you have not been able to accomplish what you are setting out to accomplish? What if because of corruption in the country that you make this happen and then the government just comes and takes it? What if it all fails?
Pretty good questions huh? He always makes me think through things! However, this time none of those questions could be answered with any logical answer. The only answer was I able to formulate was that in those situations I had to rely on my faith in God. I knew without a doubt that God had led me down these new paths and I was sure His purpose would be fulfilled. What was crazy about this answer was that to my Dad, who is a great thinker, this response may not be a logical answer or something to risk everything upon.
Usually after I give my answers during our Q & A sessions I get a look back from my Dad like I am slightly out of my mind. But this time whenever I gave the faith response my Dad would simply move on to the next question. As the pizza arrived and we went on to other conversations I wondered how I could explain the answers to his questions with more insight and evidence and prove that his suggested scenarios would not happen. Or was the faith answer my best option? Then I began to ponder 'what really is faith? What does it really mean? How do you know if you have faith? Is faith a good enough answer? Does real faith mean that I should never doubt? What do others think when they hear the word faith?!
So, I did what all small minds would do and I went to my favorite search engine Google and typed in capital letters WHAT IS FAITH?
The first item that caught my attention was an article that cited the following verse:
James 2: 18-19 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
I guess faith is certainly not what we say but what we do. Do we see the impossible and reach for it? Or does our doubt smother the things we could do if only we had a certain belief that God's hand was on our lives?
Does this mean we will understand everything? No, we will never understand everything. Faith means trusting in God even though we do not always understand and acting upon that trust in order to accomplish His purpose for our lives.
As I was making the three hour drive home I was again pondering my discussion with my Dad. As I thought through my answers and whether or not they made sense to him I started to think about those 7 or 8 times when I said, 'I don’t know, but I have faith that God has led me in this direction'.
But, then I began to think about all those times I doubted. All those days of doubt prior to the first official tryout for Kingdom Hoops. Who would come? Why did the split between myself and Dickson have to occur? Am I sure this was the right thing to do? Are we really able to accomplish these goals we have in Africa? Can my wife and I really afford the adoption? When is the adoption process that we have been in for over a year going to come to an end? Why, Why, When, When, Doubt, Doubt, Doubt!So, I went back to my good friend Google and typed in Doubt + Faith. To my astonishment Matthew 28 popped up on my many options to click on.
Matthew 28: 16-17 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
If we look at that passage just real quick the disciples were standing on top of a mountain with Jesus after the resurrection and yet they doubted. So, does doubt change the sincerity of our faith? Absolutely not as even in the presence of Jesus the disciples doubted, but what separates the sincerity of our faith is whether we allow doubt to defeat our faith. Doubt is natural as we are all human just like the disciples, but it is when we can look past that doubt and see just what is possible through the faith we have been given.
Faith is not an intelligence contest. The faith that saves does not come from philosophical arguments that answer every doubt. Faith comes from God. If we rely on having answers to every question, we are not relying on God.
“So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.... We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7)
As we walk through this life, we trust in our great, caring Shepherd to lead us safely. At times the path may wind through green pastures and beside still waters. At other times it may traverse the valley of the shadow of death. No matter the path we are taken on, we can have great comfort in the faith that God has given those whose hearts have been ready and eyes are open to see the impossible....and reach for it.