where does faith begin?

Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation, and doubt about everything that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.

H. J. Iwand

In one (or maybe more) of the mission impossible reboots with Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is dangling from a rope on the side of a skyscraper. He is almost at the end and in some superhuman effort manages to turn around an impossible situation for his own benefit and his life. What superhuman effort to we wield to keep us from falling off the end of the rope?

Iwand contends this is where faith begins. Faith is where we have tasted the brackish waters of despair and clung to the one thing we know to be true, Jesus. Faith hoists us back from the brink of self-loathing, self-serving, selfish ambition and pride. Faith, when we lean into it, surmounts all defeatist attitudes, all depressive thoughts, all spiritual warfare – it draws us back from the edge of embarrassment, failure and destruction. At our most vulnerable, collapse and breakdown, Jesus picks up our broken pieces and begins to rebuild us. Faith is the process by which we surrender control and let him do the work in us.

The reality is most people in our country are clinging to a folklore faith with mythological precepts. What is your reality? One summer I worked in Wales in a small hotel with its own pool. That was their unique selling point. Earlier this year I walked along the beach recalling the embarrassing tales of life as a selectively mute waitress. One story stood out. A story of accomplishment and courage. A story where I won a trial of Herculean proportions. I did something epic. At the far end of the pool was a decorative rock that the waiters would climb up and then dive into the pool. Throughout the summer I tried to copy. Many times I was seen at the top, earnestly willing my body to launch into the pool. And then, many times I walked back down and slipped into the water soundlessly traipsing up and down getting my lengths in. The summer was nearly over for me, I was due to return home on the Sunday. All week after hours I climbed up the rock of my ridiculousness and when I had received enough internal ridicule I descended and got a few laps in. Friday evening, instead of following the other waitresses to the pub I entered the pool. No mark on the waters was visible, the residents were playing bingo or beetle or some such in the lounge. The waiters were half-cut across in Finnegans, the token Irish bar found in every town in the world.

There was just me, still waters and the rock. I climbed up and launched into the calm pool, descending to the bottom, pushing off and rising up like a fountain of triumph, spraying water everywhere. I returned time and time again – diving, jumping, even a reverse dive – only one. I basked in my accomplishment and shouted for joy. Just me, the rock and the chaotically waved pool. After a few laps I left. No one knew I had done it, just the pool, the rock and me.

It was the highlight of my summer, and no one knew. Faith is not a spectator sport and it doesn’t need an audience. Faith is found when all the material things we cling to are gone. Maybe when all our friends have deserted us, or we find ourselves isolated.