"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord… I believe in the Holy Spirit…"
I say these words often, and I mean them. Yet last Sunday's Scripture readings and sermon left me with the realization that I have a lot of work to do before I can claim that my beliefs drive my day-to-day life in the way I would like them to. What first stopped me in my tracks was the idea of "signs and wonders." Do my actions serve as a sign to others, pointing the way to faith? Do they make people wonder what the driving force behind my actions is?
I do more service now than I've ever done before, in various capacities within Old First. I don't discount that commitment, but I'd like to exhibit more wide-spread evidence of my faith, having it more directly color my responses to people and situations. Could I be more patient with others, more understanding and tolerant of their differences, instead of only relating well to those who are most like me? Could I learn to shrug off minor annoyances, and consider the possibility that people who do things I don't like aren't actually doing them specifically to annoy me? Do I have to be the main focus of everything in my life?
I'm embarrassed to admit how many days go by where I hardly think about Jesus, or God, at all. I'll get to the end of the day, and realize that I haven't uttered or thought a single word of prayer all day. Why is that, I wonder? I know that when I do keep Him more in my thoughts and heart, my day goes better, and I feel more grounded, more centered, more patient, more contented, more serene…
Listening, every week, to the testimony from various members of the congregation about what Jesus means to them, I realize that I really don't have a clear idea of what He means to me. Sure, He's the guy in the picture on my grandmother's wall – the one with the wavy, light brown hair, whose upturned face seems to glow from within. He's the subject of many fantastic stories, and He's had a lot of really beautiful music written about Him. But surely there's more to Him than that. Figuring this out is part of the work I need to do.
Perhaps the work starts with finding out more about Him. I'm not nearly as familiar with the Bible as I would like to be, so studying the Bible seems like a good place to start. I've always been an avid reader, and reading about Him seems to bring Him closer to me. (Well, actually, I'm sure He's always close to me. What I really mean is that it makes me more aware of His presence.) I recently started reading St. Augustine's Confessions, and discovered that it strengthened my awareness of faith, and the role it plays in my life, even as I sat there reading on the subway. (Fancy that – God's on the C train!)
Simply put, I need to set aside time, every day, to devote to nurturing and deepening my faith. Now that I think about it, that's not such an onerous task, after all!