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On Faith: Under the snowbank

Imagine you are walking along a street and someone comes up to you and asks, "What's under the snowbank?"

I wonder how you might respond. Some might be tempted to not answer at all, but simply quickly walk away. Others might be inclined to actually answer the question and say "dirt" or "sidewalk" or whatever else is guessed to be beneath the snow. Some might simply say, "More snow!"

But, I have to believe, there would be one person who would ponder the question and say, "spring."

I accept that in these long winter days, there are not many of us who can look at the snow and think of the flowers and vegetation that are preparing to burst forth, yet there are those who are able to "see" it.

Sight, in this case, does not mean that they have some sort of X-ray vision to peer through the snow and dirt and see what is coming. No, sight, in this case, is a different way of seeing, a way that is reflective of the life of faith.

There are many ways we can define faith. It is a word, obviously, that is important to Christianity. It is also used outside of the church, where it carries significant weight.

One need not be a person of faith to understand what it means to have faith in someone or something, especially when that faith is broken. For the Christian, though, we sometimes lose "sight" of what faith is.

Part of the reason is that we equate faith with emotion. That is, when we are experiencing a trial in life or feeling under stress, we are sometimes tempted to think that we do not have faith because we do not feel happy, or at peace, or that God is still with us.

Other times, we struggle with faith because we believe it is something we can reasonably explain, but we simply cannot. Faith, by its very nature, will always go deeper than our reason (I Corinthians 1:18-25). Thus we come back to our person who "sees" what is under the snowbank.

Just as the person cannot see the flowers that will come, a Christian cannot literally see the actual presence of God within their life or world. Hence, the famous words of Hebrews 11:1, that faith "... is the conviction of things not seen."

Yet, the writer of Hebrews will go on to say there is a type of sight that is part of faith. In the 13th verse of the same chapter, in recounting the notable people of faith within scripture, we are told that "from a distance they saw and greeted" the promises God made to them.

Amidst all the ways we can define faith, in this snowy winter, I am reminded of the truth that faith, while a divine gift, still involves our willingness to trust and look for God's presence in our lives.

To look for the strength to bear a burden, to try to see the presence of holy comfort during the long nights we sometimes face, to seek for the conviction that no matter what we face in life, our Lord will hear our prayer and will deliver.

We may not able to see the seeds beginning to stir under the snowbank, yet we still know that they are there. May Christ grant us the faith to "see" God's ongoing work and the seeds of faith, hope and love planted in our lives that are waiting to take root and bloom in our lives and in our world.

"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.