true faith?

A friend writes:

“I think I’m learning what true faith is and that I don’t have any. I think when we say we have faith, we have things like “what we’ve always been used to” or “I think I’ll believe this because I don’t like the alternatives and I haven’t even bothered to consider them”. Things like that. I think true faith must be running out of all rational reasons to believe in something and choosing to still do it–and what an extraordinary, near impossible (ridiculous?) leap that is! Things like “life after death” are what I’m talking about, for example.”

In response, as the culmination of 4 distinct conversations on faith subjects today, I improvised the following, which is revealing even to me:

I sincerely appreciate that idea of true faith. It seems to me to be an act of desperation, a response to the futility of human efforts at self-preservation, defying the rational constructs of our typical ideologies.

In other words, I’m not sure I choose it or I come to it having exhausted myself pursuing all other ideas, then realize the ridiculous, the incomprehensible, irrational are all that could possibly respond to the yearning. Whatever is the answer, the deepest desires of the human heart must be outrageously ridiculous; preposterous even.

Jesus is a safe bet on those terms, and I fall back upon him for hope again and again.

Now, life after death, whatever the hell (no pun intended) that means, is another thing entirely. I cannot fathom, nor even extend my limited hope to that great length. It would be nice, but the speculation is too much for me – not only in regard to its existence, but the how’s and why’s. [To be clear, I heartily believe in heaven, and need it, but the comprehension of it, and the apprehension of it for today’s needs, as it’s typically conceived, is beyond me.]

Besides, I’d much rather have, and am more readily drawn to, life during life. Life after death seems only more appealing than that in the sense that because it is so speculative it seems to be more plausible, because the plausibility of the absolutely unknown always seems greater than the plausibilities of the preposterous within the known. But how much more glorious and meaningful would it be to have the reality of that visionary ideal in the present.

I don’t even know what that means – the coming of Christ?, some sort of rapturous transformation?, the end of the world?, world peace? – and it seems impossible, but with all the incredulity piled high, I confess it is my ultimate longing.

Less so, though, because I choose it, but rather it seems to have chosen me.  Captivated by the foolishness of hope.

God knows I’ve given what I believe to be earnest effort to cast it off, to no avail. God help us.

One further thought:  maybe, just maybe, as “I am crucified with Christ […] and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God” (Gal. 2:20), life after death and life during life are not so far removed from one another.  At least they are related and share some “genetic” material.


Desperate people do desperate things, and yet Jesus offers this: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

Hungry people are desperate people. Thirsty people are desperate people.

What if righteousness in this case isn’t so much about behaving right all the time and more about being in the right space, i.e. being hungry and thirsty for righteous rest for our souls?

What if?

I mean, when my soul is truly disturbed, what I hunger for typically has little to do with the ability to behave well. Although, I do become frequently disillusioned by visions of grandeur in regard to maintaining control and keeping my self-imposed priorities straight.

Mostly, though, my disturbed, troubled soul goes looking for love, meaning, power, purpose, peace, relief. These things are fleeting, ethereal ideals amidst humanity, teasing us, haunting us, like the certainty of memories, sounds, sights and comforts of places to which we’ve never been.

Mostly, I’m desperate for invisible things – things that come from being in the right space, not a geographic or circumstantial space, but the space you’ll know is right only when you’ve arrived in it.

In my desperation, my perpetual desperation, I cry out with hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Have you seen the one whom my soul loves? If you do, please tell him I’m hungry.

He is my right space. He is my righteousness. When he appears, I am, and shall be, filled.