Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Having faith doesn't mean believing in superstition. That thinking belongs to the ignorant and the atheists. Faith is not believing at all, really, but trusting--trusting in the Captain, Pilot, or Driver you've come to know over the many months or years you've traveled with him.
I had been thinking a lot about faith before I took a walk the first morning of a many days trip. My location at the time was a suburb of Chicago but my thoughts that morning were out west. I had traveled to Wyoming during the summer and returned home driving across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin into Michigan.
For some reason, Minnesota was a difficult state for me. I think the directional signs were not adequate and often confusing, at least for this traveler. I couldn't be certain I was going in the right direction. So when I was nearing the cusp of Minnesota/Wisconsin border I experienced a deflation of anxiety. Then the unexpected happened. My path homeward was blocked by two barriers and a ROAD CLOSED sign. That was it. No detour sign, no explanation, no one around to redirect hapless travelers. I did the only thing I could think to do, call 911.
The detour route the man who answered my call recited to me while I jotted on paper was long and complicated. I took off not knowing the drive would be a couple of hours and require additional instruction. Those instructions got me almost to where I needed to go, but I, trying to follow a map took a wrong road. I thank my Lord for providing me with a man who held some position in the county. On his way home he saw my confusion and bid me follow him to the highway that would take me to Wisconsin.
But I wasn't out of the woods yet. I had another detour or maybe it was just a road I had to follow. I can't remember for sure, but what I remember is the darkening sky, the lack of clear directions, and the loss of other travelers. I guess there aren't many people who travel frequently into northeastern Minnesota heading to Wisconsin. I guess not many people live there either because there were fewer and fewer houses.
I kept following the road looking for signs that I was going the right way. Had it not been getting dark I would have done what you might say is my signature move--turn around and go back to see if I'd missed something.
On my walk that morning it was the recall of that trying journey that the Lord chose to use as my lesson in faith. He opened to me that my "signature move" was indeed a repeated tactic in my life. I saw that it hindered me and was unproductive. But why did I do it? For a lack of faith? No. For a lack of trust. I didn't trust Him who would lead me. I was trusting my worldly instincts instead of Him. Like everybody I was wanting certainty and looking in the world to find it.
George Fox admonishes us to keep to Christ when we've come to Him. When I first became a Quaker I practiced what he said and still do. I don't want anything to come between me and my Lord. I think sometimes about what could happen that would try my practice.
The first Quakers were persecuted for years in England. They were thrown in filthy prisons and dungeons; had their property confiscated; lost their livelihood; many lost their lives.
These Quakers didn't withstand the years of persecution because they believed in peace, or love of everyone, or justice, or any other abstract. They withstood persecution because of Jesus. They had trust in Him, not a grandiose vision lighting their eyes in rapture. They knew and loved Jesus Christ personally. They were His people. He gathered them to Himself.
Quakers were not of this world. When they defaulted to worldly status and reverted to their own instincts they encountered trouble, confusion, chaos. But they didn't see it that way. They were in darkness.
Quakers are not of this world. We belong to Jesus. He gathers us to Himself--to teach us, to lead us, to walk with us.
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