Unknown, yet intriguing.
Dangerous, yet exciting.
So much effort invested to determine it.
So much time spent to secure it.
Yes, our actions today have consequences that extend into the future, but the future is much larger than what we can personally control. If we ever succeed in making the future certain, it would be our greatest defeat. For the untold possibilities of being would be replaced by a boring existence in which nothing is ever new. The future would be enslaved to be an endless repetition of the past.
Possibility can never be reduced to certainty. And certainty can never contain the intrigue and dangerous excitement of possibility.
Most lives are spent pursuing the security of certainty only to find meaningless emptiness. Few have the courage to recognize possibility from afar and embark on the dangerous journey towards it.
So what does my future have to do with faith?
Is faith not the conviction of what is true; the certainty of what is right?
I intend to show that faith is not synonymous with certainty, but the very opposite thereof.
Faith is not synonymous with certainty, but the very opposite thereof.
It is easy to mistake our beliefs with faith.
When that happens faith becomes synonymous with certainty. It becomes the conviction of what is true and what is right. It manifests itself in concrete statements and indisputable arguments.
But real faith is more than the things we believe.
In fact faith becomes most visible in the face of uncertainty, in situations of danger and circumstances that require great courage.
Have you noticed how often faith is linked to the future in scriptures?
Hebrews 11 must be the most famous chapters on faith. Here are a few extracts:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 11:1
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household 11:7
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going … For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God 11: 8,10
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised 11:12
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar 11:13
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God 11:16
By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones 11:20-22
Faith inspires the most unlikely actions based on a possible future, a future that calls, a future that looks nothing like the past. This faith has more to do with the possibilities of the future than the assurances of the past.
To illustrate, Moses once had an encounter with God in which he was given some radical instructions. Moses, understandably, wanted some assurance and asked: “Who am I that I should go…” What is it about myself, my past, that qualifies me for this task or gives me assurance that I have heard from God correctly? Yet God gives him no such assurance, but simply the affirmation that “I will be with you”.
And so Moses seeks the assurance somewhere else, saying that the people will surely ask him what the name of this God is. People need some sort of handle, some way of getting hold of this God. Yet God does not even give them the benefit of an assurance based on his reputation. “And God says to Moses, I Am that I AM.” Hebrew linguists tell us that it can also be translated “I will be, what I will be”. In other words there is no assurance in Moses’ personal past, neither in the steadfast reputation of the God who is speaking to Him. But rather “this will be a sign unto thee, that I have sent you, when you have brought forth the people from Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain.”
The only assurance Moses is given, is an event that is still in the future! Instead of supplying certainty, God calls for faith. Instead of a solid past on which to plant our feet, we are grasped by a possible future … by the God of infinite possibility.
And we will only know if we have truly heard from God once these possibilities have been realized. Reminds me of a similar saying by Jesus – you will know a tree by its fruit.
There is a beautiful humility to the kind of faith that is based on possibility rather than certainty. This faith is not a mental persuasion based on dogma or text, but a faith that demonstrates itself in action, inspired by the pioneer of our faith.
The one who faced death with courage and so showed us that we need not fear it. The one who allowed his enemies to exhaust their unjust fury upon him, and when he was raised and made to be their judge with every opportunity to take revenge, he chose to forgive. The one who surprised us by entering the most final and hopeless end, yet rose again to show us that every end is also a new beginning.
This is why faith and the impossibility of the resurrection are so closely related. In fact Paul says that without the resurrection faith would be empty. ( 1 Cor. 15: 14)
The resurrection is so much more than a historic event. It is the continual unfolding of an impossible future made possible by the God who always surprises us. It is the event that nullifies death, that overcomes all our fearful predictions and dreadful expectations. Its the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God … and to live in honor of this love … to love in honor of his life, is more meaningful and lasting than life itself.