I have the Latin words Sola Fide tattooed on my arm. That translates into "Faith Alone." When I got the tattoo I don't think I really understood what the depth of those words meant. I thought it was about my action--I was going to have faith and that was going to get me into Heaven. I thought it was about my pursuit of an ideal. I thought it was about a mindset. I thought it was about a set of behaviors.
Now I don't think it is about any of those things. To be honest, I am in a little bit of a "dark night of the soul." I am still struggling with where God fits into everything that has happened that last couple of years. This came as a stark realization last night when I was running errands with Emma. She asked me straight out, "Where are you with God?" Now Emma is 12 so this seemed like a pretty deep and thoughtful question coming from her. I asked her if I could think about it for a minute and she said that was fine. So I had a couple of minutes of quiet soul searching.
And here is what came to me: God hasn't gone anywhere. I vividly remember a conversation I had with my friend Jonathan a bunch of years ago when I was going through a tough patch in my life. I said I felt like I was running away from God. He said, "No matter how far you run, God is still there." At the time it hit me like a ton of bricks. He went on to say, "If God is always right there, what good does all your running do?" Wow!
So that's what I conveyed to Emma. I told her that despite the hardships, God is still right there. Now sometimes we face Him, we may even embrace Him. At other times we may turn our backs and cross our arms and stomp our feet like little kids...but God isn't going anywhere.
And it is that faith that God isn't going anywhere is enough to get us through. He is always present, always there to listen. At times He may seem distant, but that's more about us than it is about him. God is close!
So what is my posture in relation to God who is right there? When I picture it in my minds I I see a broken guy, head hung low, tired and worn out and disappointed facing away from God but leaning back into Him at the same time. I am not angry; I'm not stomping my feet--I am too tired for that. I am just defeated. But I know that God is there to keep me up-right when I feel like I just want to fall over.
I am planning on asking the girls what there mental image is of their relationship with God when I get them alone one-onp-one in the next few days, mostly because I am curious. I have an idea what they are going to say--after all I live with them and am a close student of them. But I want them to think about it and speak for themselves. Should be an interesting conversation! If it's OK with them I'll let you know what they say.
Needless to say, Faith Alone means something entirely different to me now than it did. Now it simply means that I belive that God is near.