What does it mean to have faith? I mean real faith; the mountain moving kind of faith the Bible talks about. Years ago I did a message about faith and I made the mistake of asking an interactive question. I told the congregation when I say the word, “faith” just say out loud the first word that comes to mind. Then, I said, “faith.” A gentleman over on the left side of the sanctuary said rather loudly, “Hill.” I am not denying that Faith Hill is a pleasant thought but that was not the direction I wanted to go with the question. The question is an important one. What does it mean to have faith?
I have heard people say that faith means believing God will do what ever you ask. The message seems to be, “Have faith in God and everything will always work out perfectly for you.”
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I believe in miracles. I have seen miracles. I know people that the doctors told to go home and get their affairs in order who lived long lives. I know people who had opportunities that cannot be explained short of the grace of God. I have seen relationships healed and lives changed that no one could have ever imagined or anticipated. God is always able to deliver and heal and save. And sometimes he does.
But, sometimes he doesn’t.
If having faith means you always get rescued then who wouldn’t have faith? If loving God means you always get what you want, then who wouldn’t love God? What if faith is more than that?
There is a ride at Epcot, in Disney World called, Mission Space. It is a simulator. You and three other people get inside of a cockpit with a screen in front of you. When you take off from the launch pad you feel the cabin shake and you go charging through the sky and soon burst into outer space. In true Disney fashion, there is a place where the mission goes awry. You have to take over the controls and save the crew. Of course, you always do. Then, you make it safely back to earth and land next door to the gift shop.
It is a pretty cool ride. You get to pretend to be an astronaut and it is fun. We can all ride that ride and compare our experience with each other. We can feel pretty good as we talk to each other about our “astronaut” experience. It all seems fine until we meet a real astronaut.
When we say with great pride that we rode Mission Space at Epcot and didn’t even get sick, it sounds great until she says, “Oh, I rode the space shuttle.” We say, “I rode this cool space simulator.” Then he says, “I walked on the moon.” In comparison what we did seems so trivial.
You see Mission Space is safe and I know that. I know that I will always be saved at the end. Disney is the “happiest place on earth” and they want me to be safe and come back and spend more money.
Real astronauts are not safe. They don’t sit in a simulator. They sit on top of a rocket. They don’t always come back safely. In all of our space programs there have been some who have not. Being an astronaut is dangerous. There is risk. But there is also great adventure.
I have a sneaky feeling that real faith is like being a real astronaut. It isn’t safe. There is risk involved. But, the good news is there is also adventure!