It was a blustery afternoon. Leaves whirled across the field as I made my stealthy approach. Inching up the steel ladder, I could feel the trunk of the tree move with the gusts from the east. When I reached the top, I clung tightly to the tree with my left arm. My right hand gripped the top of the climbing stick as I gingerly placed my left foot on the metal platform, in prima ballerina style. A little weight. A little more. A bit of a push with my toe. Not sure if I would regret the next move, I swung my other leg off of the step placing all of my weight on the platform. The wind whipped and the tree swayed and my stomach tumbled inside.
I nocked an arrow, pulled my camouflage balaclava over my head and hung on tight.
Still hugging my woody friend, I clipped in my safety harness not convinced that I should. “What if the entire tree falls? I’m lashed to it!” I thought as I hoisted my bow from the ground by a cord. I sat precariously on the dilapidated cushion. My every movement was watchful and deliberate as my body countered the driving wind. The branches whipped above me. As if to inaudible music, the tree swayed and I pressed tightly against my dancing partner fearful of a misstep. I nocked an arrow, pulled my camouflage balaclava over my head and hung on tight. Thankfully, as the sun set, the wind eased and hunting was on!
Faith. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Over the years I’ve heard all sorts of definitions of it. Some hail it some rail it. Some feel it’s the only thing keeping us together; others see it as weak and delusional. But in that tree, as I prepared to hunt for the evening, every ounce of me was expressing faith in its biblical form. You see, to be a person of faith is far more than just picking an object and banking on it. Effective faith is rooted in historical truth and experience, much like the hunting stand. Let me explain.
First, the stand belongs to a friend. When he said I could use his setup, I didn’t have a hesitation as to how well it was installed; I knew the care he took to hunt safely. Second, the tree was alive and sturdy. No evidence of any sickness or weakness. What I was anchored to would hold. Third, I’ve been in a lot of stands over the years, each performed the way I was told it would. Overall, there were several concrete facts to support my belief that the stand wouldn’t fail: sound installation, integrity of the structure and experience. The same is true for our spiritual life.
The faith the scriptures express is, for sure, a faith that isn’t always by sight, but it is grounded in truth and fact. In the book of Hebrews, in chapter 11 it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” How can we be sure of things that we hope for? Well, if there’s no historical evidence to support this claim, they’re just a bunch of words, aren’t they? The extent of our sincerity has no bearing on actuality either. Very sincere people have been grossly wrong. However, if there is evidence, then we have reason to believe, to trust, to have faith! From the reliability of the biblical scriptures and the narrative they lay out to the resurrection of Jesus himself - with 500 eyewitnesses - the biblical story has significant support. When the Bible speaks of faith, it’s not suggesting a “blind faith”, believing without evidence. No, the faith of the scriptures is a faith of evidence and truth.
As people of faith, we can live with the conviction that the things we do not see are, indeed, real because of the things we have seen
As people of faith, we can live with the conviction that the things we do not see are, indeed, real because of the things we have seen. As painful as it may be for some to hear, our experiences with God play a role in substantiating our faith in God. This is one reason why Jesus spent time with his disciples; belief is pinned in experience! But, our experiences also need to take a back seat to the truths of God in the Bible. We have to be sure that the cart doesn’t overtake the horse.
So, why the “politics”? Because how and why we vote this week can display where we place our faith; consider the election as the “wind”. If you expect your life on Wednesday to hold more or less promise than the previous weeks, you may want to check where your faith is placed. The political system? Politicians and professionals? Just as gusty winds affected me, the corruption, bigotry, deception, and buffoonery of the president-elect will rock your world. Neither candidate is even close to faultless and if you can’t see that, may I suggest that you’re living by blind faith, or even bad faith - something the Bible never, ever suggests we do!
Our faith, based on truth, anchored in historical experiences, tempers the forces that threaten to instill fear and anxiety.
Our faith, based on truth, anchored in historical experiences, tempers the forces that threaten to instill fear and anxiety. Are there areas of unknown in faith? Absolutely. But it’s only in our faith that we can have any assurance of safety and security. I could have easily allowed the wind to get the better of me and forfeited the hunt altogether. We could easily vote out of fear or boycott our civic duty altogether. But we must choose to go with what we know to be true, right and godly. I’m voting on Tuesday with confidence in the truth that God, the one who revealed Himself through Jesus of Nazareth, is sovereign. And I’ll wake up on Wednesday with the same hope I had yesterday.
So, whether it’s politics or hunting stands, where do you place your faith? And, is it in something that’s secure? If so, let the winds blow, for surely they will!