There are times when I wish my faith in God was perfectly box-shaped, with the corners tucked in neatly, and the whole thing tied up with a big, red bow.
There are times I wish I had bite-sized answers for the hard questions. Answers that make easy sense within the framework of my humanity. Answers that don't stretch me too much.
But it doesn't work that way. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And that can get messy. Young mothers get sick. Husbands leave. Terrorists fly planes into buildings. I follow a God who has promised me peace and comfort and joy, but on His terms, not mine.
And I know--I really do know--that this is a tough thing for some people to swallow. From the outside looking in, it looks like a blind faith, or a crutch. I've traveled that road of skepticism more times than I can count. I wrestled until my soul was bruised. There were times, when I was younger, that I didn't think I'd ever be able to believe again.
But I do believe now. I do, with all my heart. Even when it's messy. But how? How can I follow a God who doesn't always stop suffering?
I don't have a theologian's answer to that question, because I'm not a theologian. There was I time when I needed that kind of answer--the facts, the explanations, the persuasion. I've heard them all, and those answers are all an important part of my faith journey.
Now, all I really need to see is His track record in my life. I believe because I've seen what He's done, in my own life--my peace in the storms, my journeys out of the wildnerness. I don't doubt His goodness, simply because He's proven it to me so many times, through my own circumstances, through Scripture, and most of all, on the cross.
My daughter hates it when I make her hold my hand to cross a parking lot. She hates it when I have to tug a little to get the tangles out of her hair. She hates it when I say "no" to snacks right before dinner.
I do all this because I see the big picture. She doesn't.
Yet in all of this, she still loves me and prefers me. Why? Because she knows that the same momma who says "no" to snacks is the same momma who makes sure she's always well-fed. The same momma who grabs her hand in the parking lot is the same momma who kisses her scraped-up knee. I have a track record of proving my love for her. When I do something that makes her angry, she ultimately accepts it as coming from the hand of a mother who always acts with her best interests at heart.
Is that too simple an analogy? Maybe. But faith is simple. It's taking a leap and suspending disbelief just long enough to see if God is who He says He is. If He is, He can handle the tough questions. If He is, He'll meet us on our journey, taking a thousand steps toward us when we take just one toward Him.
From the bottom of my heart, I'll tell you--He's worth the risk.