Reluctant Faith

by Reverend Amanda

My eldest brother was always good for saying, “Relax… I know what I’m doing. Trust me.” The problem always was the more that he worked to convince everyone he knew what he was doing and the more confident he was, the more likely it was that he had no idea what he was doing and you were in for an adventure. This has always been a trait that I admired about my eldest brother. He has confidence in himself no matter what he is doing whether or not he actually knows what he is doing. I have always wanted to have that type of self-confidence. I have always been a lot more cautious and am more like to say “I’ve never done that before. I think I need more research”.

In faith, we are called to be more like my eldest brother and less like me. We need to trust and have confidence in God in ways that inspire us to set aside our nervousness and our doubt and to place ourselves and that which is most precious to us into the hands of Christ. This is definitely not as easy as one might think. I am such a cautious person that I even struggled with the idea of someone else putting my child to bed when Bill and I went on our first date after Madeleine was born. It took everything I had to separate and to trust that someone else, may do things differently, but might actually know what they were doing.

This is the struggle we all face when it comes to being faithful as well. We need to trust that God just might have a better way of doing things, a better way for our lives. We need to let go of our desire to know and our want to be in control and let God reveal something amazing to us in his time. The Gospel reading from Luke that we heard today, is about just this. It is about learning to trust in what God was doing enough to place our confidence in him. As I read these passages today, I was less focused upon Simon Peter being called to be a disciple than I was on his response to Jesus when he asks him to push out to sail again to begin fishing after an entire night of failure.

Simon says, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the net”.1 When I read this passage, I noticed some important messages for the first time. This first one being that Simon was not confident that there would be any new developments in the presence of the fish. They had just spent all night searching for the fish.

The second is that he already thought he knew what the outcome would be. The third and perhaps most important message here is that he verbally places aside his previous knowledge, his concerns, and his doubts brought on by very real-life experience and just does as he is being asked.

What we are seeing here is that Simon is choosing to place his trust in what Jesus is doing here. How often do we place aside our own fears, concerns, knowledge, and control to just follow Jesus? Jesus didn’t reveal to Simon what he was going to do. He gave him no knowledge of what the future was going to hold. Simon was being asked to just trust and act. He was being asked to have faith and to wait and see what would happen. What happened was that they caught so much fish that it almost sank their boat as they dragged it into shore. None of that would have happened if he gave into his doubts, into what he already held to be the truth, to his need to control the story.

Martin Luther King Jr wrote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.2 Faith is about having confidence in the love of Christ and the vision of God to trust where he is taking you when you don’t see the end goal, when you don’t have a vision of what he has in store for the future. This is part of God’s challenge and what God seeks in a relationship with humanity, total trust despite the uneasiness of our minds, maintaining faith in God even when it goes against logic and human understanding. We trust in God because we know of the wonders of what he has done in the past. We are called to place our trust in God because we know what he is capable of doing in the lives of the faithful. So let’s walk forward in his love, in his mission, in his ministry, and trust where he is taking us, enough to push through our reluctance. Let us learn to do as Simon did, to set aside all our doubts, to open our minds enough to see just what Christ intends to do. We have a loving and ever-present God, who is still working in this world and in our lives. If you want to see what miracles he is still doing, if you want to see just what he can do with your lives, your work, then work to recognize and purposely set aside your reluctance and just follow Jesus into the waters of faith and see what he intends to do with your life. This week, spend some time exploring your reluctance and trust that God knows what he is doing, even if there is reluctance in your heart. See what faithful adventures await you in your faithful journey, once you commit to faith in God as Simon had done.

1 Luke 5:5, NRSV.

2 Martin Luther King Jr, 20th century preacher, civil rights leader, and theologian