For the religious individual, your belief supports the echo of an intentional process, even an active hand in every life process. You see God as a decision maker, counselor, provider, and friend. This is a grand and beautiful sentiment when it works—when the child is found, when the rent is miraculously paid, when the promotion is granted. But, when the presents do not materialize, the presence of God is a painful insinuation that you lack favor and faith.
Many find passages in the Bible to silence their questioning. They say that God knows what is best and that He has something better. But, let’s be frank. When the need is for my child to live, there is nothing BETTER. Excuses offered for an all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-at-once, AND benevolent God are misplaced at least and damaging at worst. The misunderstanding is that God was never to be likened to a Santa Claus waiting to grant your wishes or even your most pressing needs. God is more like a mechanical engineer who has designed your experience in the form of a beautiful machine.
Rather than ask you to dispense with faith, my call is for you to grow in faith. I offer that sustainable faith is a progression of maturity and capability. Each individual has the opportunity (and responsibility) to activate her full potential through an ever-increasing, ever-deepening understanding of the machine and the mechanism.
The Analogy of the Image of God
I begin with the concept of the image of God. Within each human, seeded as a call to the maturity of legacy, is what some call the image of God. This pattern and promise suggests that humans are singularly suited and equipped to create beauty, purpose, and even life. The legacy is not for you to focus on the machinery—the work of your hands or your creation, but to focus on the mechanism—the pattern and promise of generations to come.
My grandmother never learned to drive. She took lessons from multiple teachers. She attempted driving. But, she never learned. As a result, she relied on others for rides her whole life. Yet, she held a high regard for cars and those who could operate them.
Many of you are like my grandmother in your relationship with faith. You recognize that faith is a vehicle toward something grand, beyond your sight, and not bound by what you know and are capable of. Just as my grandmother knew that the car could get her faster from one place to another, you see faith as a luxury of the most righteous among us. You seek the righteous and faithful out to guide your prayers to their destinations just as my grandmother sought after her ride to work or to the grocery store.
You have been offered faith as an active capability that you can control. Yet, like my grandmother, you have passed that opportunity on to others believing that the mechanism is too complex for you to comprehend. Rather than considering the practice in the small parking lots and back roads, your fear jumps to freeways and interstates. Because of this fear, you risk never learning to utilize faith as anything more than a means to judge and objectify truth.
Maturity of Faith: Another Option
How many more could my grandmother have touched if she could have moved beyond the awe of the machine and learned to utilize the mechanism to her ends? How many more can YOU influence through the mechanism of faith?
The Faith Progression Levels outlines the growth trajectory complete with the machinery you know, the lessons you may have missed, the mechanism you can utilize, and the principle that is the foundation of your sustainable progress. I have identified 10 levels. Each level depends on mastery of the level before it. The levels are organized into two sections. The first 5 are foundational or archetypes. The second 5 are qualities or states of being. None are to be achieved. They are to be experienced even beyond understanding.
Context: Machine and Mechanism are different.
Quiet your mind and the dependence on what you see in front of you. Consider how the vision you see is comprised of smaller components that work together to form the vision.
Location: Can you discover the mechanism of creation and still maintain your belief system as it currently is? Does fear of opening to a more mature belief system limit your growth?
Case Example: Consider my grandmother. She never learned to drive. She never learned to utilize the mechanism for her needs. She was always a passenger.
Case Application: You are able to use your faith intentionally to create, to influence, and to impact the world. The process involves maturing through the lessons as if learning from a car operator’s manual.
Image: Envision the development and maturity of your faith as learning from an operator’s manual.
Meditation: Breathe. As you focus, turn through the pages of the operator’s manual. Prepare your openness to receive more information on the mechanism represented in the machine of faith you have been in awe of.
Reflection: How many pages were included in the operator’s manual you envisioned? Did you have trouble focusing on the pages? What were your feelings about what you may experience? Did your thoughts drift to what you could do with your new maturity and freedom?