“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
– Hebrews 11:1
Buddy Greene – renowned harmonica player, musician and song writer – inspired by a funeral he had once attended, wrote and recorded a ballad about the life of a man named Charlie, a righteous man who lived a good life. Eventually Charlie became ill and died – but in the ballad that was hardly the end of Charlie’s story. I’ll let the song lyrics explain.
“Now the sky was cold and gray / at the funeral home that day / And the friends and family gathered from far and wide / And they all stood by Charlie’s grave / and they listened to the message the preacher gave / And thought it was over when up stood Charlie’s bride. / She said ‘I’m sure glad to see you all here / ‘cause Charlie held you all so dear / And he wants to see you all in heaven when it comes your time. / So if you want to die like Charlie died / you’ve gotta live like Charlie lived / Loving God and people and longing for the other side.’”
It should be obvious that Charlie was a man of deep faith. But what is faith? First of all, it is not optimism, that is a “Pollyannaish” belief that a positive outcome is forthcoming. Neither is it a philosophy or religious system. Rather, faith is just as the scripture defines it, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”, derived not from scientific proof or mathematical fact, but from an intimate relationship with God. Like my mother who, after being told she only had a few months to live, looked her family boldly in the eyes. “Don’t worry about me,” she proclaimed. “Grieve because you miss me, that’s okay. But don’t worry about me. I know where I’m going!” She was as sure and certain as I had ever seen her, and remained so up to her final breath.
The surety and certainty of our faith gives us the strength to overcome the difficulties we inevitably face in this life, and provides the freedom to use our lives for good purposes. It is by faith that we are able to live like Charlie lived, and one-day die like Charlie (and my mother) died. Faith comes from being sure and certain of the empty tomb on Easter morning. “The Lord is risen,” the witnesses cried! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter!