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CHURCH CORNER: When he returns will he find faith?
We all have those deep places where questions rest. When we engage in some experience, which causes the questions to begin to rise to the surface, we start giving place in our thinking for the asking of the questions – bless you if you’ve given them a voice as well.
Perhaps if you didn’t gum the backs of hymnals in church when you were a toddler, or exercise your first teeth on the edge of an old fir pew that had been first varnished and then, 20 or so years later, given a coat of shellac – produces a rather unique finish, somewhat like toad skin, and a unique flavor – this might not have the same impact on you, but I know that someplace deep in your soul, you can find a similar, familiar place.
Some folks don’t want to admit they ask deeply-probing questions, but in their quietness, they do. One of our deep disappointments – nearly as deep as our questions – has been not getting some adequate answers to our legitimate questions. Sometimes, when we can’t get an adequate answer, we have to deny we ever asked the question, because not getting an adequate answer might mean we’re not in control and we can’t have that now, can we? Let me wander on...
I sat and played in the wood shavings on the ground in the old tabernacle of those tent-type revival meetings, many, many years ago. My parents were intently listening while I was intently playing...and listening a little.
Maybe you sat across the aisle from me, years later, when the preacher, standing with all his charts, explained, with much passion, conviction and detail what the end-time was going to look like! Exactly how it was coming down, without question! Perfect description of how those last days were going to be.
I trembled a little – well, honestly, I trembled a lot. Scared years off my life. I’m lucky to be as old as I am today. I never expected to get out of high school, let alone have a family. Now I’ve done both and my kids have kids that are staring graduation in the face.
The charts were wrong. I’m not saying those teachers didn’t mean well, but they certainly were not on mark in their teaching. Time has proven them wrong. Hmmmmm, questions...
So now, a significant number of years later, I’ve dared to ask questions of my faith and I think I’ve come to some better answers than I had back then, when a lot of concern was given to end-time prophesy and what God might or might not be saying. Oh boy! How we wanted to know what it all meant and how it was going to turn out.
Somewhat sarcastically I say, “Too bad, and so what?” Well-meaning people – like you and me – have wanted to get stuff figured out for centuries and it hasn’t worked yet.
But, I still have questions I need to settle, and I’m still left wondering, “So, what?” My “so-whats” have found some simple answers that I haven’t always been comfortable with.
In Luke 18, Jesus is talking to his disciples – what else did Jesus do, but talk and heal folks; and what else are we supposed to do but listen and receive? Exactly what the disciples did with this teaching, we have no way of knowing. What we’ve done with the text, my experience has shown, has been interesting, to say the least. But my attention for today is with just the last rhetorical and musing question he put on the table for our consideration: “...when I return, will I find faith on the earth?”
Will you find faith? That’s all?
“Yes, will I find faith.”
Not, “Will I find perfect doctrine?” or even, “Will I find reasonable doctrine?” Not, “Will I find a reasonable understanding of end-time prophesy?” or “Will I find anyone without some sort of sin or stupidity or meanness, or some ridiculous strain of faith?”
Nope. Just a simple, “Will I find faith on the earth?”
I’m not suggesting I don’t often wonder what the “When I return...” part means and how it will find definition – and I have questions about a few other subjects he talked about as well, but I’m learning to rest more...in my faith.
“Will I find faith?”
I want to say to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, when you come back, you will find a sprig of faith right here in my heart. Your Holy Spirit saw to it that the seed was planted in the soil of my soul, and you’ve faithfully nurtured and cared for that seed all these years, and I’m doing my part to let you care for me, and see to it that this plant is fruitful. So, right here, in this little village area we call the Plateau, on this north side of Mount Rainier, the faith you planted in my heart is showing signs of life and fruit this fall! Thank you!”
That’s what I’m reporting on faith today. How ’bout you?
Dale Pratt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.