Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Living by Radical Faith


Living by radical faith is a concept used mostly by fundamentalist Christian organizations to describe the act of trusting God (specifically Jesus) and the guidance received through prayer to guide one's life even in situations where, if your faith was to be proved wrong, failure would be the only result.

For a person who was raised as a Reform Jew this kind of faith -- the proverbial empty-handed leap into the void -- does not come easily. It's not in my upbringing, not in my training. Trusting God enough to feel safe in the world doesn't sit well with a people who have been historically faced with extermination and hounded from their homelands again and again. And yet that is what Paul and I have chosen to do.

Somewhat successfully, I might add, despite the frequently chaotic influence of the people and community around us. We've had free rent and have made just enough money to keep all our other basic needs met from the time we made this decision.

But the situation of being pushed from our current home when we haven't yet manifested or created the means to pay for a new place has not been resolved yet. We know the push was needed to get us to move towards things we've been afraid to do. But need I say how challenging maintaining faith in such a situation -- especially for a person with my upbringing -- might be?

It feels like being pushed through too small a cat door. When I first introduced my cat Fingers Magee to the concept of going outside through a cat door he freaked out. His mama was trying push him through a wall, he thought. "NOOOO!!!" He stretched his legs out as wide as he could and refused to be pushed through. Of course, once I finally succeeded he found himself in one of his favorite places -- outside the house! He looked around, quite confused, and then figured out the concept of going through a cat door by himself.

Problem is, we don't see a big enough cat door.... or we don't think we do.

There's a scene in one of the Indiana Jones movies where Indie has to cross a 30 foot chasm with no visible way to get across. He stands at the precipice, empty-handed if I correctly recall, hesitates, centers himself, and then steps out. The bridge he needs appears beneath him and he makes it across.

The empty-handed leap into the void as immortalized by Lucas Films, complete with heroic soundtrack, comes to mind whenever I think about living by radical faith in a secular society.

My own guidance whispered to me this morning "take a step, just step out towards what you want." Luckily our situation isn't anywhere near as dire as the situation Indiana Jones found himself in. We have everything to gain. And nothing to lose.

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