Recently I took one of those Enneagram personality profiles and it turns out I’m a 7. If you’re not familiar with that particular test, being a 7 means I’m a pretty enthusiastic person when it comes to, well, just about anything. I tend to believe the very best in people and am usually optimistic about people and situations (sometimes to a fault.)
This, I’ve learned, either endears me to others or makes them want to steer clear of me.
Once I had a co-worker tell me my enthusiasm was annoying. I cried for two days straight. Clearly, this person was not a 7.
I’m enthusiastic about food (that I don’t cook), about music I like, about my dog . . . really about almost everything. In fact, even the things I don’t like, I’m enthusiastically against (insert UNC Tarheel here).
It could be from all the caffeine, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s just the way I’m wired.
So, when I meet someone it’s not uncommon for my enthusiastic optimism to kick in. This frightens people at times. I see so much potential in the person in front of me, and before I know it I have envisioned them completely changing the world. I, of course, make this determination right after they tell me they like guacamole.
I wish the people I meet could see what I see in them. I wish they could believe in themselves the way I believe in them.
I can’t help thinking that my Faith in the Creator of the Universe affects my faith in those He has created. I wish the people I meet could see what I see in them. I wish they could believe in themselves the way I believe in them. What could happen if they had the same enthusiastic optimism about themselves that I have for them? What could happen if they had an ounce of the enthusiastic optimism about themselves that God has for them? I mean, the possibilities are endless!
And then I understand why they don’t. Because I see myself in the mirror and the enthusiastic optimism fades away.
My enthusiasm is matched only by my fear. My faith is matched only by my doubt.
Back in Sunday School we memorized this Bible verse:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I learned it with a bit of an eye roll and in my mind a “blah, blah, blah” at the end of it. Followed by a pre-teen sounding “duh.”
Of course, that’s what faith is. It’s something you can’t see. I get it. Let’s move on.
I’m not going to exegete this verse for you. In fact, I’m willing to admit that I’m probably grossly misrepresenting the real meaning of the verse. Because one day those old King James Version words I’ve known most of my life stopped me in my tracks.
Faith is substance?
Faith is evidence?
And then my train of thought driving down the road in the car without a handy commentary nearby went something like this: “So, if faith is substance that makes it something tangible. If it’s evidence of things not seen, that makes faith something that can be seen.”
I realize this is an over simplification, but I can’t read that verse the same way anymore.
The evidence of God is seen in the movement of His people, not in their good thoughts or intentions.
I hear those words and my fear and doubt kick into high gear the way they do when I know I’m supposed to do something. They kick in because my feet want to move. Because faith isn’t felt in my heart, faith is felt on the soles of my shoes. The evidence of God is seen in the movement of His people, not in their good thoughts or intentions. Faith isn’t invisible. Faith IS the evidence to others that what we believe is true.
And I can’t help but wonder if I live a life of faith at all.
Is there any evidence in my life that I believe the Creator of the Universe created us -– created me –- and might actually have some enthusiastic optimism about what we can do on Earth?
I’m learning that faith is quite often a tiny step, not a huge leap. And then it’s another small step. And another.
It’s hitting the first note on the keyboard rather than just scouring over the music notes.
It’s jumping in the pool and swimming rather than just knowing the mechanics of the backstroke.
It’s baking the cake rather than just memorizing the ingredients.
Listen, it’s easy for me to challenge anyone reading this to take that little step: having a tangible faith that is evidence for what you believe. I know YOU can do that thing that is stirring in your soul. God and I both have enthusiastic optimism in your potential to take that step and then the next one. Because of my faith in the Creator of the Universe, I have faith in you, the created.
But I still struggle when I look in the mirror, so I understand your hesitation.
Maybe that’s why the writer of Hebrews went on to recap the people of faith in the Hebrew Scripture. They weren’t any more prepared or qualified or talented than the lot of us, but their lives of faith were characterized by actually doing something. They messed up sometimes in the process, but somehow they knew that following God was an active pursuit.
Their faith was substance. It was tangible. It was seen.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons a faith community is so important. We simply don’t have the capacity, most days, to have that same enthusiastic optimism for ourselves that we have for others. We need each other. We need to see faith.
So, perhaps rather than challenging you to take that little step (even though I sure hope you do), my challenge is for you to also encourage someone else to take that little step. They need you.
And, may your tangible, see-able faith be evidence to others that God is enthusiastically optimistic about what we can do on Earth.
Jen thinks she should have it all figured out by now, but every day learns more about how she doesn’t. She is a big fan of coffee. She’s had a few fancy job titles in marketing and fundraising and has given much of her time and heart to serving Jesus through local churches. She is wife to Gerron, Mom to Henley and Emma, and friend to some of the best people on the planet. Her family has recently moved to Florida where she is falling more in love with the beach every day and is becoming quite comfortable with the pile of sand accumulating in her minivan. She occasionally blogs at www.togocup.wordpress.com.