We have a picture with words of Scripture that hangs next to my front door, because isn’t it always God’s Word we need right in our faces before we walk out the door? But it falls down a hundred times a day as that door gets banged wide open by the kids, who haul the craziest things through it. A neighbor’s rolling desk chair? They roll the chair right across our cul-de-sac, up our brick stairs, and wrangle it through the front door.
“It’s for the movie we’re making, Mom!” they insist as the picture once again crashes to the ground. They are wearing fake mustaches, blue blazers, and talking with odd accents. (Welcome to life in our cul-de-sac.)
Hebrews 11:1 is painted on the picture that won’t stay up — “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I read those words again standing in the wake of wild boys. My re-hanging attempts are pointless though, because ten minutes later, it’s a band of younger kids who barrel into the house, and I hear it again. That crash — faith that falls to the ground every time the slamming is too hard.
One of the boys asks about the words on the picture, and I hear my youngest son explain the sacred text to his friend, “It means that sometimes you have to close your eyes to see God, but then you have to open them and remember what He looks like because you can’t walk around with your eyes closed all the time.”
“That’s weird,” his friend replies. I laugh at my little theologian. Yes, I think. It is weird.
The Bible tell us that we are to believe in something we have not seen, trust in something we cannot touch, and listen to a voice we cannot always hear. Like the prophets of old, we try to live in this world but to point to another. We hold tight to a promise of a plan that is good despite what our eyes can see.
And at times, faith can all feel like a huge job, something we have to fight for when life just keeps slamming right into it. What if we let go? What happens then?
I pick up the picture, and some of Jesus’ words to His disciples come to mind.
If you had faith as small as a mustard seed you would say to the mountain,
“Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
Small faith in a big God. The size of our faith isn’t what makes the mountain move. The size of our God is. And then I remember these words we used to teach kids when I worked at camp: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV). We taught the campers to yell it into the mountains, the words echoing and coming right back to us. We had hoped they would remember that God’s Word never returns void, that it always comes back full and loud and accomplishes His purposes.
Could it be that simple?
My little one is right. Sometimes you have to close your eyes to remember who God is. Sometimes the prayers come hard and slow because the slamming never seems to stop. Sometimes faith hangs crooked, leaning precariously against a wall and barely hanging on.
But the thing about that Scripture painting by my door? It has been banged around worse than a boxer in a fighting ring, but it has not been broken.
And maybe that’s what faith should look like in the middle of our actual lives, like the constant re-hanging of that fallen picture. I can’t think that I have enough faith to walk through this world on my own. Jesus is the only One who perfected having faith. Without Him, I am walking with my eyes closed and tripping down stairs I cannot see. Without God’s Word to guide me, I can’t get anywhere, and faith isn’t anything if I can’t walk out the door with it.
The picture falls again right as we are shuffling the boys off to bed. One of them asks, “Hey, Mom. Why don’t you just move it? It’s never going to work right there.” I laugh and hang the battered faith verse back up.
“Because every time it falls it reminds me that faith takes a little work to hold onto. It reminds me that our faith isn’t dependent on the circumstances that come slamming through the door but on the One who picks us up when we fall. Our faith holds on to Him.”
“Sometimes you’re so weird, Mom,” he mutters as we walk up the stairs.
Yeah, I know.