Archived Story

Faith is the conviction of things that are not seen

Published 9:29am Friday, June 7, 2013

David Hernes
retired pastor from East Freeborn Lutheran Church

I talk occasionally with folks for whom the God business is new. Or, old, but very troublesome. Or at least not very practical.

They have very basic questions, such as, “Is God?”, “If God is, what kind of being is God?” and “What can we know and how can we know?” For some, it is a life or death issue.

I have a great deal of respect for these folks. For their honesty. For their sincere desire to know. For their willingness to ask, think, explore and even experiment.

Sometimes we start by talking about beings. There are many kinds of beings. There are dog beings, cat beings and worm beings — and tons of others including human beings. But, their driving question is:

• “Is there a God being?”

• “A supreme being?”

• “A highest being?”

• “An ultimate being”

• “A highest power being?”

• “A creator being?”

• “A source being?”

If there is, that being must be an awesome being. The top. The greatest. The most.

Now, human nature and human experience sometime make it hard for us to believe in such a being. And wishful thinking doesn’t make it so.

But, if there is no such being, then everything that exists is an accident. Could that be? Could it be that this whole system which has so much order, such precision of function, such harmony and beauty really be shear happenstance? Nothing more or less than mere luck?

If that is the truth about reality then the sooner we face it the better. And, some people say it is too hard, too big a leap to believe in such a being. But, if it is a leap of faith to believe in a supreme being, it is not at least as great a leap of some kind to believe all that is, is totally accident?

How do we deal with a big and basic issue? Where can we look? How might we find out? We might read theologies or philosophies or religious sacred books. We might talk to faith people and non-faith people.

Or, we might examine deep inside of ourselves. What do our hearts tell us? What tugs or intuitions do we feel? What can satisfy our deepest, truest natures? Can our minds and our hearts come into harmony? Someone wisely said, “The heart has reasons that the mind knows nothing about.” But ultimately we must each come to our own conclusions and convictions.

The creator being concept makes most sense to me. And I can easily use several other terms or names for the creator — the supreme being, the highest being, the source being, the ultimate being, the spirt being who pervades the entire universe.

A logical question follows. “Is there any way to connect with the creator?” We commonly talk about connecting with our creator as prayer. Many have told me that they do not pray, but they talk to. Whatever we call that talking to, it needs to be simple and honest right from our own minds and hearts. Often it is a request for help. Which often means a sincere and simple desire to connect and know. Prayer is not only words, but can also be thoughts or feelings or tears. It can be a wordless quiet posture of humility and surrender in the presence of this greatest being, in the presence of the great “I am.”

Life is experimental. Sometimes I suggest that people may want to try it – talk to the great being as actually being and listening – and see what happens. Most of us have experimented with many other elements of our lives. We can experiment spiritually, too.

My own faith is that the creator being also wants to be known as the father being, who wants a father-child relationship with his human family.

Finally, we who have been long in a faith community, do well to start simply and patiently with those who are new and who are searching. Because the truth is, many who have long been in a faith community are struggling at the same elementary level as many I have just been writing about.

I close with a reference to a Christian scripture namely, Hebrews 11. There we find these words, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And, “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things that do not appear.”