Friday, November 04, 2011

This is My Brain Without Faith

For five weeks, I'd been dizzy.

With all the many possible causes of ongoing dizziness, I could not ascertain the problem. Sometimes figuring it out on your own just doesn’t work. I needed to talk to someone who knows more than I do about such things, so I went to my doctor.

The doctor asked me a series of questions. By the time he physically examined me he’d already determined the cause: Anxiety.

Numerous situations and circumstances have contributed to this anxiety. But the bottom line is that I have not been trusting God to take care of me.

How could this have happened?

Little by little. My faith has been so deep that I felt nothing could affect it. And in a way, nothing has. I mean, it’s still there. But it’s buried beneath the troubles of the world. It’s been assailed. It’s been worn down by doubt.

In a song, Over the Rhine asks:
Who will guard the door
When I am sleeping?

No matter how strong we are, how grounded and rooted in the faith, we still must guard our hearts, “for from it flow the wellsprings of life.”

So this diagnosis was sobering. It’s given me a glimpse into my inner life were not for faith in God. I would have all these years been ruled by anxiety.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
For to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

(Psalms 86:4)

Maybe others can get through life without faith, but I have, since my mid-20s, always leaned heavily on the promises of God. I am one of those pitiable people who needs a crutch.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves the crushed in spirit.

(Psalms 34:18)

Until last year, I was sustained spiritually by a small group. How long did we meet? Six years? Maybe more. We met every week in a welcoming home, a collection of people from diverse backgrounds. We drank coffee, talked about the relevance of the Bible, shared our lives and prayed for each other. Week after week for years.

I always felt a supreme peace there. Without the group, I have been a bit lost.
Anxiety weighs down the heart,
But a kind word cheers it up.

(Proverbs 12:25)

This week I turned a corner. Over the past few days, when I awaken at night or in the early morning, I find myself praying or hearing inside me a psalm or a song. Much better than rehearsing all the terrible things that could happen to me or those I love.
Cast all your anxieties on him,
For he cares about you.

(1 Peter 5:7)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

And it seems the songs are coming back. I find myself humming, whistling or singing the old hymns.
Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
All I have needed thy hand has provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

No, faith really makes no logical sense. I cannot explain it. And I cannot make faith. All I can do is seek it, turn my heart toward it.

I sought the Lord and he heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

(Psalms 34:4)

It is a gift.

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