To Lose Faith is to Stop Looking

“To lose faith is to stop looking.  To lose faith is to decide that all you ever saw from afar was your own best dreams.”               -Frederick Buechner

I’ve had that quote on a sticky on my desktop for years now. I don’t know where I first read it. I simply read it. Every day I read it.

I’m a doubter.

That probably doesn’t come as a shock to you if you’ve been reading this blog long enough. Usually, if a believer finds peace in the acceptance of “mystery,” she worked a long time to get her hands off of the doubt and on to that mystery.

What I mean is, my head has never let me rest, not since the first day I declared to Jesus my life, a four-year-old on a swing in the backyard of my babysitter’s house. No, that wasn’t when I was “saved.” That came later. At four, I understood what I needed to understand: good and evil. Jesus and Devil. Myself, the swing and the sky. I gave Jesus a whole heart. I rejected all I knew of evil. I offered this life.

There are some decisions that shape the course of what you are, where you’ll walk this earth. Mine was love. I boldly offered Jesus my love. My head has been crammed ever since. For every certain experience of God’s presence, for every answered prayer, there a sure and present nag, a crusty whisper that what I’ve seen is not enough, that what I’ve counted as God’s love has been simply privilege.

Then I pray and choose to let the girl on the swing love Jesus.

My son is three-years-old, and thinking. Every prayer I offer out loud he’s thinking through. Reacting. Analyzing. Determining.

Friday in the car, we listened to an old folk hymn from a children’s album: “Welcome Table.

“This song’s about having dinner with God, August,” I said, glancing in the rearview mirror. “It’s about heaven and how we get to go there.”

“I don’t want to go to heaven,” he said. “I want to stay at my house.”

“You won’t go for a long time,” I said. “And it’s so wonderful there.” He wasn’t convinced.

He was still thinking about it Saturday night. “Mommy,” he said, interrupting my prayer, my hands still tucking the sheets around him as the words came out. “Mommy! But I can’t see God!”

My heart sank. It wasn’t because he admitted what we all struggle with. Not “seeing” is the hardest part, right?

My heart sank because I saw in him what lives in me, that twirling brain, striving for some solid part to hang my faith upon. I long for him to be a man of deep, life-altering faith. And I know it will be a battle for him.

I looked at him, answered: “God is too beautiful for us to see, Aug.”

And so we hold to the part we can’t see, right? We call that beauty the mystery and we beg for it to seep into the rest of us so it’s not just our hearts that believe, not just our bodies, not just our souls, but those pesky minds God gave us too. And I hope I’ll raise this long-legged boy to look with his mind into the depths of that mystery and call it beautiful. Because, when he does, he’ll find that there is much that lies deeper than his “own best dreams” and he’ll long for the table where God is serving that lovely meal.

And I’ll save a seat for him nearby.



Filed under the Praying Life

7 responses to “To Lose Faith is to Stop Looking

  1. Sam

    Don’t you just love Frederick Buechner?

    A mama friend and I were talking and her four-year-old asked her if there were video games in heaven. At first she said she didn’t know and of course her son said, “If there aren’t video games then I don’t want to go to heaven!” So she ended up telling him that whatever we love will be in heaven, mostly because she just didn’t want to hear him say he didn’t want to go.

    I love that you told August that God is too beautiful for us to see. So much truth in that.

  2. m.k.

    I always think of God as being in all. That there is no place, no moment, no breath which is not suffused with divine love. So one might also say that God is in everything we see. To separate God out from all there is puts humans in a position of being powerful enough to segregate God to the unseen. But what border or boundary is there to God? Perhaps an inability to see God in every moment is just that one hasn’t come yet to recognize what one is looking at. Perhaps faith is a process of recognition. Of pulling the scales from our own eyes. Forgive this little speech if it comes across badly. It is a first and quickly written reaction in reaction to your thought-provoking post.

  3. Pam

    I love your blog and your thought provoking writings! The only thing that I can say is that God created you (and obviously August as well) with your deep thinking mind! Embrace it. You are precious and your children will see God in you.

  4. I love this. I think when God gives us a glimpse into what our little people will struggle with on their journey of faith, it is his way of teaching us how to pray. He’s so super gracious with my own near-sightedness, and lovingly gives me glimpses into the future so I can be a mama better equipped to pray for the specific journey of faith each of my girls will take. I just love him so much!

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  6. Linda

    Some Christians would say that they have seen the beauty of God, enjoy the Keith Green song…

  7. Wow. This post really spoke to me, since I have the same temperament, and I have a son who sounds very much like yours. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your beautiful writing and words of encouragement — just what I needed to read tonight. Thank you!

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