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By Faith

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Jan 25 in Musings
So the daughter asks her dad the question: “But Daddy, why do I have to keep doing the right thing when it doesn’t seem to make a difference?”  And Dad hems and haws and finally settles on “I’m not sure, honey, that’s just the way God set things up.”
           
Out of a child’s mouth comes the question that is not just cute, but quite theologically profound. And out of a father’s lips comes the answer that does not actually avoid the question, but points to what it means to live by faith. Sometimes you just have to trust.

maybe 2I have an orchid sitting in the corner of my office. After the lovely initial flowers faded and fell off, the leaves lost their nice sheen and the whole plant looked forlorn. Was that it? Should I toss it out and start over?  The research I did claimed the plant wasn’t dead but dormant.
 
 
 
The advice of the experts was to be patient and continue to do the right things–a couple ice cubes each week for water, some indirect sun–and don’t give up. The dormant period can last for months, they say, but new leaves and flowers will return. And in fact, a new leaf is emerging. Continuing to do the right thing when you see no visible results sounds like...faith.
           
It is all over the Bible, of course. Noah, keep building the ark even though you are the laughingstock of your dry community. Rahab, hide the spies even though it is dangerous to do so. Israelites, keep walking around the walls of Jericho even though you’ve done it six times. Disciples, leave everything behind and follow Jesus.  Faith. We do what we are called to do, even when it doesn’t make sense, isn’t linear or doesn’t bring the results we expected. It’s just the way God set things up. We are asked to trust.
           
Eugene Peterson’s book title calls this “a long obedience in the same direction.” We keep doing the right things, we pursue integrity, we pay attention to God’s presence, we absorb the scriptures, we pray our prayers, we care for people rather than things. We don’t make these choices to achieve a goal. They are not the 10 steps to happiness or wealth or health. We are called to be these kind of people, in season and out, with great results or through dormant periods. We trust that God is at work in us and through us. It’s just the way God set things up.
Faith. Here’s to more of it in 2019...and I’ll post another picture when my orchid blooms.
           
See you soon,
            Pastor Dan

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