Loving Christ, eternal friend, On thee only I depend. Make my life serene and still With the sureness of thy will. (Living Calm, 2016)
An old hymn that I grew up with, one by William F. Sherwin, asked, “Why is thy faith, O child of God, so small?” And that question still comes to my mind sometimes. The difference now, after my saving moments with the Lord, is that I have an answer that is actually helpful.
Our faith in God is “so small” because our faith in ourselves is so big! Before my life crashed and burned in my 30’s, I suffered badly from this wrong kind of faith—faith in myself. Religious fervor draws some people more than others. And I was a lost cause. If you had been there to witness my religious zeal with my proud-willed surety that I could pray my way out of anything, you’d get the idea. Years of failure did eventually humble some of that certitude out of me.
And now, my walk with the Lord has continued the process. Religious faith, as I now experience it, isn’t simply a positive attitude, a way of getting the things I’m just sure God wants me to have. And faith also isn’t about strength of will, willing ourselves into wellness—or success or happiness. Faith in God is faith in God—not faith in our ability to be deserving or devoted or steadfast.
So, if we really want to enlarge our faith, the place to begin is to take small steps into self-abandonment. Sometimes that can mean being less determined and controlling in managing our possessions or our money or our relationships. At other times it might be offering fewer opinions and less advice.
And, probably most helpful of all, we need to meekly abandon our ideas of how things must work out. We need to stop trying to control what will happen. And so, no matter what the concern, we pray, “Here it is, Lord. You take it.” We are Christ’s and Christ is Lord of all. We’re safe with him, regardless of the outcome.