Thursday, December 9

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2021 Advent Devotional: In the Midst of Changing Ways – Many Gifts, One Spirit

Week 2: The Gift of Faith

Scripture: Philippians 3:9 – “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based in faith.”

Reflector: Linda Fong

Image by Menahem Yaniv from Pixabay

“Faith” is not an easy word for me. It often seems too rigidly defined. As I try to expand the picture of what “faith” means in my life, it occurred to me that piloting a plane offers vivid examples.

First, as you push forward on the throttle to head down the runway, you hope that the mechanics have done a thorough job of the maintenance and inspection just finished yesterday. And you hope both engines will work as expected on take-off. As you lift off smoothly and begin climbing, you are assured that you’ve passed the most critical part of your flight, riskier than landing. You reach cruising altitude and you believe that your training and adherence to pilot procedures and checklists will carry you through any unexpected situations.

You look in awe at the puffy cloud formations and feel joy. You fly into the clouds with faithfulness that your instruments and your ability will carry you through when you have no horizon or land forms underneath to guide you. You marvel at the invisible reality of the aeronautic principle of lift keeping you and your heavy machinery in the air.

You try to respond with ease and confidence when coming in to land and the controller suddenly tells you to switch your approach to a different runway in another direction. You persevere when you are about to touch down and a low cloud of fog rolls in covering the end of the runway, and you have to instantly push forward the throttle to full speed to steeply climb back up instead and go around. You discover new trust in your environment and yourself.

Then you land with gratitude.

This story offers the words that color my experience of faith in changing ways: hope, assurance, belief, faithfulness, reality of things not visible, new revelations, perseverance, trust, and joy. And any time I need to remind myself of the gift of faith, I gratefully recall blessings of “happy landings”, whether big or small, trivial ones that grace my day.

In this way, faith becomes more of a feeling or experience than simply a fixed belief. It calls for flow and letting go to hand things over to what one author in the 1940’s called, “God is my co-pilot.” On reaching a feeling of oneness with God comes joy and peace.

Prayer: Spirit God, grant us faith so that we can hand controls over to you as our co-pilot, at our side always, through changing winds, sudden storms, and new directions. Help us surrender with trust and peace to the opportunities of experiencing oneness with you. In this way, may we live our faith through the example of Jesus. Amen.