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As I walked the path near our house a few days ago, I was listening to Sara Groves new album, Invisible Empires. One particular song stopped me in my tracks. In her song, Mystery, Groves leads with this verse:

Sara Groves :: Mystery
I see my faith before me
It's always there before
And I can no more own it
Than I can own the road that I'm on
And I don't know where it leads me
I don't know where it leads me
Peace and resurrection
Suffering and dejection
I don't know

Hear the song here.

The verse brought this question to mind: Who owns my faith? The image that she plants, with these words, “I can no more own it than I can own the road I’m on,” was intriguing. My spiritual director suggests that when God touches me in a moment like this, that I journal about it. So, here goes.

I grew up outside the church. I was unchurched as an adult when Genie and I married. Two weeks after we married, a fire destroyed our apartment and most of our wedding gifts. I talk about this event in The Fire that Changed our Lives. We took the insurance money, and bought camping gear. The next spring, we went out West on a ten week camping trip through the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, and Western Canada.

God revealed Himself to me in the Rocky Mountains. The grandeur of mountains on such a massive scale made me realize that there were much larger forces at play than our human existence. I caught glimpses of the Divine in that wilderness time. Christian Schwarz, in his little book, The Threefold Art of Experiencing God, tells us that if you want to see God the Father, just look to His creation. He reveals much of Himself and His nature through the creation. I could see the Father’s fingerprints everywhere in the wilderness.

So, faith for me came in seeds planted through this experience of God in the wilderness. It was not some act of my conscious mind, some choice I made. God came close, and His touch on my soul initiated my faith. To this day, time in the wilderness sustains and grows my faith.

Genie and I were active participants into this journey to faith. We had felt some prompting after the fire to examine our priorities, and consider our future path. We felt maybe we were getting drawn in by our material possessions, and should reconsider. My early adult life led me to question, “Is this all there is?” I now believe these to be the promptings of the Holy Spirit, raising a holy discontent with pursuing the American dream that draws most people into career and business without considering other paths.

So, my faith was initiated by God, through the Holy Spirit. As we entered into holy places and spaces, God then revealed Himself, and a life of faith was born in me. My role was to listen, to respond to these nudging of the Spirit, and to follow where God led. But, in each case, God was the initiator. Sure, I had a role. I chose to listen. I chose to seek the wilderness. Jesus set the example of going up to the mountaintop to pray. So, even by seeking the wilderness, I was following Jesus.

Yet, my faith is not truly my own. It is a gift from God, and I am a steward of this gift. I enter into times of study and meditation and prayer each day. I don’t have a push button God who has to show up just because I am meditating. Often I hear nothing. But I am regularly entering into environments where I can hear the still, small voice, and separate this signal from the noise of daily living. On the rare occasions where I do hear God, I get enough of a picture to work towards for months or years.

So, I hear Sara Groves speak of not owning her faith or the road she is walking on. And I say ‘yes’. I, too, am on a road that I don’t own. I am on God’s faint path. And, the glimpses of the eternal that have been the seeds of my faith, those are God sightings. The faith that has emerged from these seeds are the fruit of God’s work in me. None of this do I own. Yet, by saying ‘Yes’ to God, and receiving from Him the strength to keep moving down this faint path, I find deep satisfaction and am living into the abundant life Jesus promised.

I heard Mike Breen at a 3DM conference on Discipleship and Mission in January. He said, “I prayed to God, ‘I will be more obedient so that more of your power will flow through me in to touch others for the Kingdom.’ And, God said, ‘No. I will give you more power so that you can be obedient.’” Even the power to be obedient comes from God. It is a gift, much like my faith.

Sara Groves :: Mystery
I see my faith before me
It's always there before
And I can no more own it
Than I can own the road that I'm on
And I don't know where it leads me
I don't know where it leads me
Peace and resurrection
Suffering and dejection
I don't know

My body's tired from trying to bring you here
My brow is furrowed trying to see things clear
So I'll turn my back to the black
And fall
And wait for the mystery
To rise up and meet me

There are as many takers
As there are hearts to take it
There are so many fakers
I myself have faked it
I should know
Sometimes this has left me
Groping in the darkness
Hoping in the darkness
I will run into you again

My body's tired from trying to bring you here
My brow is furrowed trying to see things clear
So I'll turn my back to the black
And fall
And wait for the mystery
To rise up and meet me

My body's tired from trying to bring you here
My brow is furrowed trying to see things clear
So I'll turn my back to the black
And fall
Pray for the mystery
To rise up and meet me
Oh I'll wait for your mystery
To rise up and lead me home

And I say, "Amen."

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