A couple of weeks ago, when asked what I was especially grateful for in 2014, people thought I was being religious when I said “the gift of faith”.
I wasn’t. I was being serious.
Just a couple of days ago, I once again had time to reflect upon the year, its ups and downs, my laughters, worries and fears; and came to the conclusion: it really was not that amazing a year at all. Many things happened, major decisions were made, there were long seasons of nothingness, and there are still quite a few prayers unanswered. A very normal year so to say, but what did strike me was the realization that -unlike any other year- my faith was constantly being challenged, pushed, squeezed, questioned.
Not by myself, but by others.
Just a few weeks ago, I met a handful of new people. I finally decided to step out of my proverbial shell and get to know more people I had no common friends with. Funny how often you tend to believe people are all too alike; truth is, they are not. You just never get to know people outside your circle of friends (and their friends).. Birds of a feather..
Anyway, so I had the chance of meeting a number of random people and realized just how different life outside really was. I felt like I had somehow completely shut myself out. Not from the world, but from its people.
I realized just how easy it was for me to have Christian friends, bump into “new people” who really weren’t any different from myself, and build solid relationships with. There was that invisible bond. Faith.
But having now stepped outside, it was much more difficult to bond. Finding a common ground. Relate.
Not because there were no mutual hobbies or interests, topics for discussion, but because the topic of God would eventually come up; at the very latest with the issue of sex.
What do you mean you don’t have sex? Like, at all? Are you religious or something?!
And so, a conversation starts, which usually inevitably ends with us deciding not to continue the discussion and move on to different matters; with a slightly tense feeling of “oh dear” remaining.
What I found the most painful in my discovery of the outside world however, was the sheer number of people I recognized from in there. The number of old friends who had lost their way, had thrown faith away. Who had grown up just as myself, but found a different path to walk on. Friends who thought I was too ignorant to realize I have been blind all along, who were bound on convincing me I needed to see the light; that is, a different light.
I recognized PKs (pastor’s kids) who had been so battered and shattered, whose relationships with their parents were so marred and scarred, God could not possibly be real, and who had no interest whatsoever in even considering the possibility that the God of the Bible was any better or different than what man had made Him out to be.
And so, as I reflected upon other’s hurt, disappointments and pain, as well as my own questions, I sighed in relief: Thank you for the gift of faith!
For upon further reflection, this could have been me.
So today, on this very special day that commemorates the birth of our Lord Jesus, I thank God for the gift of faith. The substance of things hoped for, the element of things unseen. The ability to believe when there are no tangible signs, there is no scientific evidence, but there is life, love and hope.
My prayer for the coming year is simple: that others too might come to believe (yet again).
It makes life easier and puts things into perspective. Why? Because true faith (just as love and hope) never dies.
May this season draw each and every one of us (both believers and non-) closer to each other, as well as our Maker and Creator.