The word faith always used to scare me. It seemed like some kind of impossible feat of stepping off a cliff into complete darkness and fog and thinking that something would hold me. I thought it meant climbing unending mountains with no sight of the prize. Or sailing across ever stretching seas with no compass. It sounded like a lot of work and endurance and I knew I didn’t have the backbone for either. I wasn’t sure I wanted to cross uncharted seas without the comforting feeling of His hand either. And didn’t living by faith mean not sensing His presence? Focusing on love was a lot more reassuring. Letting Him remind me that He cared and He’d hold me and that the ocean was just a drop compared to His love definitely set my heart at peace more than thinking of sheeri cliffs and misty darkness. And so, He set me aside and began to teach me the meaning of love, and one day I looked up and realized that faith and love weren’t so far apart after all. Actually they were connected by the deepest ties, and if I treasured one, I couldn’t help but treasure the other. Because maybe faith isn’t about climbing treacherous mountains in the dark or crossing oceans alone. Maybe faith isn’t really a lot of grit either. Maybe faith is being so attached to the heart of Jesus that we want to follow Him wherever He goes. And if that happens to be over mountains steep or seas unknown? Little matter. It’s all joy just to be where He is. The truth is that faith doesn’t have it’s eyes on the mountains and the seas. It’s not that it’s blind to them but it is so enamored with Jesus that those things really are small in comparison. Faith is no mystical patch over suffering and hardship. It aches in the dark and feels the sting of wounds keenly. But every arrow that pierces it’s heart drives it harder into the One it loves. Agony cannot make it loose it’s grip on it’s Lover. Instead it binds them closer. Because faith just. cannot. let. go. We think the kind of love and attachment to God that spurs this faith is something purely experienced by the heroes in books that are gathering dust on our shelves from yesteryear. We think willingness to follow anywhere is a bit farfetched for us today. It was real for Abraham, but in 2017? Wasn’t sacrifice with a smile because of Who it was for, just the stuff of the martyrs? But really, when did faith become something printed in the pages of books and not something lived in the day to day lives of ordinary people? Love makes faith unavoidable. When we grasp a little of His depths of love for us and love Him back, we follow into the darkest fog, not by an arduous act of the will but out of the spontaneity of our heart. And actually, the faith that climbs mountains and crosses oceans— that grand faith of the heroes? It’s made of a thousand choices to follow in the mundane moments. It’s getting out of bed and placing our hand in His even when every bit of us does not feel like living through the pain of the day. It’s filling our mind with His soul renewing promises instead of turning to Facebook when our hearts ache Faith is having that conversation that may mean you loose a relationship— just because He asked it. It’s loving when everything inside feels like giving up and hiding away in a corner because of all the hurt. It’s listening to how much He says we are worth and believing it to be truth when every other voice shouts that we are worthless. It’s letting the avalanche of life drive us hard to our knees instead of hard into the ground. Faith is not leaving His side even when our choice to stay means we loose everything. It sounded like a romantic view and I wondered if it was-- until I started to taste it myself. Because to me these aren’t grand words to throw out in black and white on the internet and forget. These words are the very ones He is keeping me alive with right now. It’s this that got me out of bed this morning. This that made me pull out my Bible and cling to the promises. This that propelled me down Welsh lanes with my hand clinging tight to His. It’s this that has broken through the walls and given me courage to write letters to God when I’d rather not face reality. It’s this faith that is keeping my feet moving right now. That is why I share it. This heart that was once afraid of the word, afraid of the experience? This heart is now learning to prize every loss, every lonely road, and every arrow that drives my heart into His. Four years ago my family and I climbed the stairs of an ancient castle in this land of green fields and windy roads. As I peered out over the landscape that swept in every direction, His gentle voice asked a question that seemed completely out of the blue. What if you were carried up here by persecutors and threatened to be thrown over the edge and dashed on the hard ground below because of your love for Me. Would you still claim Me? I started to say yes, but it was as if He put His hand on my shoulder and whispered, Really? And I wasn’t sure. I was horrified that I wasn’t sure. But I wasn’t. Faith still seemed terrifying. Impossible. Like being thrown into a dark fog. And honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d be willing to do it. I’d gone home and prayed-- oh did I ever pray-- about my trembling answer. I wasn’t ok with it and I knew it. It was in the quiet hours that ensued that He reminded me that it was love that I didn’t understand. That perfect love casts out fear. That when I truly loved Him, it wouldn’t be an effort to say yes. It would be all I wanted. Four years and a thousand revelations of love later, I climb up the stairs of another castle-- the question racing through my head again. I reach the top, peer out onto a vast landscape of scenery and the hard ground below, and the answer bursts out right away. Yes Jesus, Yes. A thousand times yes. Not out of obligation. Not just because I know it’s right. Not as a forced act of the will to gain a crown. Yes, because it seems to me that death is preferable to life without You. I don’t know if that question will ever be asked me from the mouth of a persecutor and I don’t claim to know for sure that I would give the perfect answer if it was. What I do know is that He was right. He said that love would make way for faith— and it has. Love has taken away my fear of faith. It’s given me desire to say yes to His every request. It’s birthed faith that wants nothing more than to follow wherever He leads. Even when it’s up strenuous mountains or uncharted oceans. Because the days when faith burns, when it costs us something? These are the times when faith runs deep.