How’s your faith?

My local library has a limit of 200 items that you can check out at any one time. I have yet to reach that limit–but I usually have anywhere from 50-80 items checked out. Some of them are for Ladybug (my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter), but about a dozen or so are mine.

I choose a variety of titles, usually starting my browsing among the new books. Sometimes that decision is based on the author. Other times it’s the genre. Sometimes it’s the title that grabs me.

A couple of times ago, I saw a book whose title was How’s Your Faith?, described as “an unlikely spiritual journey.” The author was David Gregory, former moderator of Meet the Press. The title sounded intriguing, so I added it to my book stash.

But–as is often the case–once I got the book pile home, other titles caught my attention first, and I didn’t get started on reading this one. I think, though, that there is a cosmic sense of humor! I had sort of started reading the book…and then the announcement came about my denomination’s financial struggles. That announcement made me want to read something more “escapist” so I didn’t get back to this one until it was almost due. I tried to renew it, but there were holds on it, so I decided that if I wanted to finish what Gregory had to say, I’d better get busy.

Boy, did it ever resonate!

It’s David Gregory’s story of his spiritual journey. He (as a Jew) fell in love with–and eventually married–Beth (a Christian), so obviously they had some definite discussions about what their spiritual path together would be.

He began to realize that he needed to know more about who he was and what he believed–and it all really came together for him when, in a presidential interview, he was asked “How’s your faith?”

There’s a lot more to the story…a fascinating story into spiritual exploration and finding the values and commonalities in many faith traditions–and realizing how they can strengthen your own. It’s a book well worth reading.

But what stuck with me was the question: “How’s your faith?”

In this time of uncertainty in my faith tradition, I think that’s a fair and valid question. Sure, it can be quickly and easily answered…but that kind of answer is often just a surface one. When we go deeper into answering that question, I think that often we may find that we’re not really sure.

There’s a hole…an emptiness that we’re not sure how to fill.

In my faith tradition, we don’t talk a lot about “being converted”…and yet, if we’re not…if we just keep skating on the surface of what we’ve always known and experienced…when the hard times come, the answer to that question about our faith is likely to be “Not very good.”

What kind of conversion am I talking about? A willingness to let go of things the way we’ve always done them…a willingness to trust God to lead us into a future we can’t currently imagine…taking time to spend in whatever spiritual discipline(s) work for us to bring us into a closer relationship with God…ears and eyes open to hear and see where we are being called–and understanding that that may very well take us out of our comfort zones!

A friend of mine several years wrote a poem a number of years ago that I think can answer this question:

 There’s a God-shaped hole in my heart
filled with empty things–
songs, sermons, hymns, and prayers,
classes taught and taken,
books read and underlined
tiny gods forsaken.
Important things, needful things
that stretch the mind and soul
And yet these substitutes
for Spirits breath
cannot fill the hole.

There’s a God-shaped hole in my heart
filled with empty things–
good intentions never birthed,
letters left unwritten,
hopes and hunches still unsung,
ears that failed to listen.
Important things, needful things
that free and feed the soul
But these achieved,
less Spirit’s breath,
cannot fill the hole.

There’s a God-shaped hole in my heart
filled with empty things–
important things, needful things–
yet sweep them all away!
For God alone must fill this space;
it’s meant to be that way.
This silent, aching, sacred space
that serves to sing my name.
With Spirit’s breath it speaks to me
and calls me o’re again,
“Slow down, my child, take rest, my child,
and pause to breathe my name.
Let emptiness refresh, renew,
restore your soul again.”

     A God-shaped hole
     …a Love-shaped hole
     never fully filled–
     reminding me that piety
     and works cannot replace
     the emptiness that’s always void
     without God’s gift of grace.

          –Danny Belrose

And so…just maybe…what we’re going through right now gives us the opportunity to let God sweep away all those things that take up our time and money so that we can be filled with God’s gift of grace.

And then the question, “How’s your faith?” can be answered with a resounding “Wonderful!”

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