“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
– Hebrews 11:1
Even at age thirteen (ninety-one in dog years) our beloved blue-heeler Cowgirl still puts us through the same early morning drill, and with the same vigor and passion as ever, nudging us toward the door for her daily stroll around the block. “We’re burning daylight!” she demands. Cowgirl, you see, is a living testimony of the definition of faith. She is sure of what she hopes for – that is, an early morning neighborhood walk – and certain of what she does not yet see – that is, some sort of excitement out there, another dog, a squirrel, or best of all a rabbit.
You know the feeling. Remember when you were a child and your birthday was approaching, how you would be excited and anxious at the same time? You were sure there would be a birthday cake and some other special treats, but you were also certain there would be surprises. Faith is like that, sort of a combination of assurance and anticipation, a conviction based on past experience and an expectation there will be even more to come. Cowgirl wakes up every morning with that assurance that we’ll go for a stroll because it’s part of our routine – her past experience – but also with the anticipation that there will be surprises along the way.
Faith is often too narrowly defined as synonymous with religious belief. But it is much more than that. Faith, rather, is a response to God, an affirmation of the amazing abundance provided through His creation. It is about seeking and discovering knowledge, value, and inspiration from our experiences. It is responding to God by accepting his invitation to participate in the process, to be creators ourselves and offering our creations as gifts back to Him.
Jesus tells us in Luke 18:17 that entering God’s kingdom requires the kind of faith and trust of a little child. To me that means being sure of what we hope for, but with room left over for surprises. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, just pay attention to dogs and small children. They’re living testimonies to the definition of faith.