The weight of our faith


By the Rev. Jeremy Myers

Long before I became a student at Appalachian Bible College in Beckley, West Virginia, my family would frequently head out to campus for long weekends to visit some close friends.

Consequently, those close friends are now family, but that is a different story for a different time.

My friends lived on the campus of ABC in townhouses for married students and their families. There was a small army of kids to play with and the wild and wonderful hills to explore and enjoy, literally in the backyard. In those days, I could completely relate to the words of the immortal song “Country Roads” by the great John Denver. It was truly “almost heaven.”

Our favorite place to wander was around the camp the students of the school ran for several weeks in the summer. They had cleared out most of the underbrush going up the side of a mountain and put in some high and low ropes adventure elements. We weren’t allowed to play on the camp elements, but in his divine grace, God had created some natural elements for us.

The best element was a vine swing. The vine was fairly thick, like a heavy-duty rope, and was attached to the core of the tree a good distance up. The tree itself was located on the side of a steep hill. We would take the vine, walk several feet up the hill and run full tilt down the hill until the vine tensed up in our hands and lifted us off the ground, swinging us out over the steep decline below us. It was terrifying. It was amazing. It was amazingly terrifying.

We were just kids playing in the woods, so none of us were asking safety questions. We knew it was dangerous, but most of us assumed the danger was dependent upon us. If we had the strength to hold onto the vine, we would be just fine. None of us considered that at some point, the vine itself would no longer hold.

We had absolute, unwavering faith as we went swinging out over the abyss that the vine would carry us safely back from whence we came. We weren’t there when it happened, but one of the neighbor kids went swinging out into the void and the vine snapped, sending him plummeting to earth.

By the grace of God, he only broke his collarbone, but the danger of the situation was clearly apparent to us. Our faith was poorly placed.

Everyone puts faith in something. In fact, we put our faith in a whole host of things in a wide variety of ways throughout a normal day. When we get in our vehicle in the morning, fire up the engine and begin making the trek to school, work, the store or wherever, we have faith that our vehicle will carry us safely to where we are going.

Every time we sit in a chair, we have faith that it will hold up under the pressure of our weight. When we place a bill in the mailbox or send a payment through the internet, we have faith that the delivery mechanisms will get it where it needs to go in a timely manner.

We often think of faith as being optional, but it is integral to everyday life. The question we must consider is this: Is our faith well placed?

For those of us who consider ourselves Christians, faith is to be the defining feature of our lives. We are a people of faith. As I’ve watched the fear and frustration grow over the last several months, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps we are placing too much faith in places where it doesn’t belong. It appears that we have placed a great deal of faith in institutions, organizations and individuals in the world.

And some degree of faith is appropriate and even necessary, as noted above. We must remember, however, that they are not to be the focal point of our faith. Much like that vine in the hills of West Virginia, they may hold up for a while, but they are prone to break from time to time.

Jesus is author and finisher of our faith and as such is the ultimate object of our faith. It is by his name alone that we find salvation. It is through his power and presence that we find peace that passes understanding.

There will always be people, products, institutions and organizations upon which we must rely in order to survive and thrive in this life. We will have to use our God-given wisdom to discern which ones are worthy of our faith.

Good people, even people of faith, won’t always agree on this issue. The cost/benefit ratio will look different to each of us.

In the end, though, may we not make the mistake of allowing anything or anyone to take the primary place of the only one worthy of the full weight of our faith: Jesus.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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