Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. -- James 4:8I happened to pick up Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest this morning and read the entry for today. It's based on James 4:8 and is call "The Authority of Reality", so I am riffing on that.
Faith is acting on what you know to be true, what you know to be real. I have a spare tire on my truck and a patch kit I carry on my bikes because punctures and road hazards are real. We stop at stop signs, drive on the right side of the road, stay out of certain parts of town after dark, pay our taxes, watch what we eat, and all the rest because of what we believe to be real. For me, I know, it is difficult to believe in anything other than the material world I see and experience on a daily basis. I am, after all, a native Missourian. "Believe half of what you see [perspective] and none of what you hear [opinion]" was drilled into me from birth.
My mother used to check the almanac for the various moon signs or whatever they are. By the signs, you are told to plant potatoes and other root crops in "the dark of the moon". My father's response? "I always thought they do better if you plant them in the ground." My favorite, though, was castrating calves. Dad didn't have any fancy equipment, just a classic stockman pocketknife with a scary sharp spey blade, and he usually kept some pine tar in the truck. We'd see a new calf, determine it was a bull, catch it, and cut it. In the summer, if we had it available, we'd smear some tar around the cut to keep away the flies. Back at the house, Mom might wonder if the calf would be all right as the sign was in not in the feet that day. Dad again, "The sign is in the knife."
Since then I have experienced things that were inexplicable in a material sense, usually having to do with the timing of events -- things happening or coming together at just the right time to benefit me. I have been in the right place at the right time on multiple occasions. I have been blessed over and over, and I have come to believe that God is Good, all the time. Have I experienced upheavals and tragedies? Have I seen bad things happen to good people? Have I been taken aback by the utter stupidity and the malice of people? I have certainly, especially that last one.
Malicious people are acting on what they believe to be true, on what they believe is real. Perhaps they are philosophical atheists or practical atheists who believe we are alone in a purely material world with no one to answer to except our fellow humans. Perhaps they believe in some kind of vindictive god, or they are deeply religious pharisees who think they are better than other people. I don't know, but I pity them. However, if they come to my house with their evil, the sign might be in the Glock.
I believe Jesus, the Son of God. I believe He described the real world perfectly and completely, that He is Truth incarnate. I believe He is with me, that, now and then, He has worked through me, that He has guided my steps even when I had no idea what was going on. By all rights, I should have been dead forty-nine years ago and probably more times than I know since, but here I am, and I am going to do my best to act on what I believe. The just shall live by faith. The just do it.