The Ups and Downs of Faith
Did you play on a “teeter-totter” when you were young? A simple device, traditionally consisting of a long plank of wood, with a seat (or maybe just a handle) on either end, that pivots about its midpoint. Riders balance between the downward pull of gravity and the upward push of their feet, bouncing from the ground seemingly up into the sky, only to lurch
back down to the ground as the other rider does their own push-off. It’s nice when both riders are about the same size, weight and strength – thenthe experience is a fairly balanced one. Sometimes, though you get one of those overzealous riders on the other end, who want to propel you to the moon each time they push off. Life – and faith — can be like a teeter-totter. Sometimes you’re on the way up, sometimes you crash down and bite your tongue.
God set standards for how He would have us live, but even since the very first two humans existed (Adam and Eve, you had ONE JOB…) we’ve regularly failed to meet those standards. Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrews as a people lived through a regular lifestyle cycle of righteousness, followed by behavior that slowly degraded, leading to chaos, exile and/or slavery (physically to conquerors, or behaviorally, to sin), and finally redemption and restoration by God. As individuals, we live through this same cycle every day, maybe every hour.
Jews used to have to make sacrifices (typically of a “perfect” animal with no blemishes), to atone for falling short of God’s law. God sent to Earth to live among us Christ. His perfect, sinless life and set the ultimate example of how to fulfill the Law – not just the technicality or “letter” of the law, but God’s pure intent of the law. Later, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, so that He would bear the burden of paying the price for our sinful behavior. Christ came to live out the perfect example of the character God expects from us, but at the same time gracefully spares us from being punished when we can’t meet that standard.
Each time we experience that grace, we should move closer to the Christlike character God desires from us. After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, God then sent an “advocate” (the Holy Spirit) to dwell within us, so that He would be forever after immediately accessible, in a
personal relationship with each of us who would accept Him.
We are so often full of soaring aspirations and lofty intentions – to give more, to be kind, graceful to others, to go to church, read the bible or pray more often. Great goals, that usually crash into the awful reality of our true nature — we’re busy, distracted, tired, selfish. Each time we go through that cleansing restorative cycle – from well intentioned, to
falling short, to sinfulness, to restoration and back again to good intentions (The ups and Downs…Some causing us to bite our tongue) – we have the opportunity to become more Christ-like in our character. Every time we pray, every life event we experience, we can listen to the small, still voice telling us how He would have us live. The more often we go to Him in prayer – with our doubts, our pain, our thanksgiving – the more He will “love us into being
– Mike Kukovec