Archive | March, 2019

Faith

12 Mar

For many years now, I have been in the habit of holding some special object in my hands when I pray. The object is usually something simple and natural like an unusual stone. The object makes prayer “official”. When I am holding my prayer object, it is clear in my mind that I am communicating with God and that I should concentrate on that activity. This kind of device is common in many pursuits. Sometimes students wear a special hat when they are studying to make their study sessions official and remind them to concentrate.

For several years, my prayer object was a heart-shaped stone that I bought through eBay. About a year ago, when I was climbing into my bed, I found two small pebbles, a turquoise colored one and a cream colored one. They had apparently fallen out of my pocket when I went to take a nap. I could not remember when I acquired them or why, but I was fairly sure I had picked them up on our local beach. I recognized immediately that I was to use these when I prayed instead of the heart shaped stone. I never particularly cared for those two pebbles. However, since God had provided them for me, I felt that it was my duty to use them. I always held the turquoise one in my left hand and the cream colored one in my right hand.

About a month ago, when I was shopping at a local Dollar Tree, I came across a single smooth, flat, seaweed colored stone that had the word “Faith” engraved in it in gold. The stone was sitting there all alone on a shelf of other knickknacks that were for sale. There were no others like it in that section. As with the turquoise and cream colored stones, I recognized at once that God now wanted me to use this new object when I said my prayers.  I eventually discovered that it was a regular item for sale at the Dollar Tree. Each one was slightly unique and some of them had other words engraved in them. However, I knew that this particular stone was the one God had set aside for me.

The stone was a gift from God. I had to pay a dollar to get it out of the store, but that was immaterial. I was not being charged a dollar by God. I was paying an insignificant fee to a business for delivering to me the gift that God had provided.

Faith Stone

For the following month, I used the stone as my prayer object and held it whenever I said my prayers. Its smooth flat shape was ergonomic.  It fit my hands perfectly. It seemed to be made for me and for that purpose. When I cupped it in my hands while I prayed, it seemed to become a part of me.

Just recently, I was experiencing some minor hardships. They were hardships grouped into a pattern that I had come to recognize was a signal from God that there was something about my behavior that needed to change. I was not sure what it was. However, five evenings ago, when I was looking at my prayer stone, I made the connection.

For quite some time, I had been contemplating finding some book that could be my book of truth. I had been looking for a book that would be my guide book for how God wanted me to live. I was seeking my “bible”. I had been contemplating buying a particular King James Bible with just the right “look” that I had found online.

Teal King James Bible

I have read the Bible from cover to cover, but it never really spoke to me. Some Christians would say that this is because I do not believe, but I have reason to doubt their interpretation. I felt, for a variety of reasons, that the appearance of this particular Bible might signify the message God was willing to share with me. That notion would require some explaining that would take me too far afield. Besides, I realize now that it was incorrect.

I was also considering collecting together some writings of my own and binding them together to be my bible. I had tried this before, but it never worked very well.

Suddenly, I realized that this was all a mistake. There was no book of rules for me. My bible was a single word carved into stone: “Faith”.

This was an important realization. If a person contemplates the single word faith, everything else falls into place. God has no other words. Even “faith” is not God’s actual word. There is no human word that is equal to God’s meaning, but faith is the closest. If a person contemplates faith, that word will lead them to God. I assume there is some comparable word in other languages and traditions.

When a person contemplates faith, they do not need a rule book. They do not need guidance of any other sort. God tells a person who contemplates faith what faith means and he reminds them of that meaning whenever they lose track. God tells a person who contemplates faith what they should do and what they should believe. It is the moral code for distinguishing right from wrong. Faith instructs the follower on what God looks like and what he has prepared for them. It is the image of the future and what comes after the physical body ceases to function. Faith is the window into God’s wisdom. A person who knows faith knows God.

Faith means living without fear of losing faith. God gave me the new prayer stone to help me identify and remember his lesson. However, if I lose the physical stone, it will be because I am meant to lose it, not because I have gotten lost in my pursuit of God.

When I understood this, the problems I was having miraculously cleared up. They seemed to dematerialize retroactively. I knew this was God’s way of saying that I had learned the right lesson.

Of course, I will have other struggles in the future. Maybe they will be lessons or maybe they will just be struggles. I do not believe that God rewards “good works” or punishes “bad works” in this life. To believe such a thing would be to believe that every rich person deserves their wealth or that cancer sufferers, tortured prisoners and people burned alive in fires somehow deserve their misery. However, I am convinced that he uses our experiences to lead us to greater understanding. In any case, I am nearly certain that I have learned this one lesson.

Faith.

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