There’s been a lot on my mind these past several weeks. I have been wondering about so many different things. Some of my wonderings keep me awake at night, and often they push my faith to the edge. I am sure you have also been in multiple situations where you question your faith because things appear to be so bleak that you wonder if you have any faith at all. As human as we all are, we desire to see what lies ahead of us. We want to be assured that any step we take would at least be the right step.
But as I worried about the steps that I want to take, and often the challenging nature of these steps, I am reminded of my own vulnerability. I am reminded of losing the reality of focusing on sight and not on faith. My vulnerability calls into question my own faith and the lack of trust that sometimes shape my decision-making process. I know and believe that God is trustworthy. I know and believe that God doesn’t leave us comfortless. I know and believe that God supports us. I know and believe that I can count on God, always. I can attest that I am a faithful person, but how come I feel so faithless sometimes?
As I reflected on my own faith challenges, this hymn sprung to mind: “We walk by faith and not by sight.” More to the point, I chanced upon a story about the impala.
I learned that one of the features of an impala is that it can jump up to ten feet high and thirty feet in length. This is crucial to its survival in the wild.
However, at many zoos where there are enclosures for impalas, one would find that the impalas are kept in place by a wall that is about three feet tall. The strange thing is that impalas never jump unless they can see where they would land. Impalas move by sight! The walls keep the impalas inside the enclosure because they cannot see what’s on the other side.
Like you, I also cannot see what’s on the other side of some of the decisions that I am called to make. Like many, you also feel challenged by the invitation of sacrificial love. Like many, you are worried about scarcity. Like many, you feel daunted by committing yourself to a ministry. In spite of all these hurdles, the constant invitation is for us to walk by faith and not by sight.
I know my sight is limited - I literally wear lenses so I can see and read. I cannot see as far as a telescope or binoculars can see. And even if I could see that far, there’s more beyond that I cannot see. My limited vision imperils me. So, the question is, can I rely on my sight? No, I cannot. How, then, do I commit myself? How do I make those critical decisions, or how do I act? Not like an impala, but as one who relies on faith, depends on faith, dwells on faith, feeds on faith, and is sustained by faith, renewed by faith, directed by faith, and propelled by faith? How do I do it?
Life doesn’t get any easier, for in the midst of all that we are dealing with, we are being reminded of the grace to be thankful for life and for all the things that sustain our lives - both the good and the not-so-good. It is a big ask, especially if life hasn’t been that kind to you, and if like me, your faith has been challenged in many different ways.
But the reality is that that is precisely why you should even give thanks, for all things and for the faith that grounds you in a way that you are not drowned by the vicissitudes of life. There’s always something left in you, that you can rely on that something to give thanks because that something lifts you up and provides you with so much meaning and affirmation.
You get to that point in life where you assure yourself that you don’t have to be right all the time, nor can you even be faithful all the time. But you can be thankful all the time because of the faith that lives in you because that faith doesn’t operate like an impala.
For me, Thanksgiving becomes the gateway into the holiday season, and the season is all about being grateful for the gifts that we have received, the gifts that God has blessed us with. Those gifts come in different sizes, but they are gifts nonetheless. Where would I be without those gifts? Where would you be without those gifts? I invite your reflection.
I don’t think there are enough ways for me to be thankful. But there’s one thing that I don’t forget to do, that no matter what life throws at me, I make it my goal to be and to remain thankful.
Unlike an impala, which only jumps because it can see where it would land, thanks be to God that you and I don’t have to see before we jump. Much as I try to see where I would land if I were to jump, I am also confident that should I jump, there’s always going to be a big cushion to hold me.
As we prepare to travel to be with family and receive family for the Thanksgiving holiday, may you always think about the different ways that you can remain thankful. More than that, be thankful that you do not operate like an impala.