“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
- Hebrews 11:1
About the rugged pioneers who settled the rural West Texas county where I grew up, historian Carmen Taylor Bennett once wrote, “This is not a story of weak-willed people, but necessarily one of men with steel in their veins . . . They were in big part a people who had left the security of friends and relations behind; had loaded scant household goods on sorry wagons and behind poor teams made their long journey west. And at night as they sat by their small smoking camp fires, fed by cow and buffalo chips, there burned in their hearts a brighter flame of hope and the prayer that the dim trails they followed led to a home of their own and a better way of life for them and for the ones they loved.”
What courageous risk-takers those pioneers must have been! Yet more than risk-takers they were people of faith; for by its very definition on the other side of risk there must be an element of faith. Or as author Philip Yancey says, “Faith means striking out, with no clear end in sight and perhaps even no clear view of the next step. It means following, trusting, and holding out a hand to an invisible Guide.” In other words, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
We live in an uncertain and insecure world, no matter how hard we may try to make it otherwise. Regardless how hard we work, how much we save, how well we maintain our health – all commendable things – sooner or later jobs are lost, financial markets collapse, we become ill. We can and should do all we can to prepare for such events, but we cannot prevent them.
So it is that we are wise to return to the spirit of our rugged pioneer ancestors who forged through life with no illusion of security or certainty; rather they were guided by a sense of faith – faith in themselves, faith in one another, faith in God – and the “prayer that the dim trails they followed led to a home of their own and a better way of life for them and for the ones they loved.” Let us give thanks for the legacy of their faith and courage.