Saturday, February 14, 2009

A faith disability that many have

Many people have faith in God, but a serious disability that is difficult and often impossible to overcome. The first step is to recognize the disability since many people do not realize that they have it.

Let us look at the skill of Captain "Sully" who landed the plane that had lost its engines on the Hudson River. He and the rest of the crew credit their training and experience. Captain Sully in particular had that extensive glider experience in his background. When one is totally trained and repeatedly practices, one has made one's reflexes nearly automatic in such situations.

The same is true of individual athletes and great teams in sports. Those who have consistency tend to have the winning records. Golfers in particular understand that it is consistency, the ability to deliver with dependability your best, that puts you ahead of even more talented but inconsistent competitors.

These are examples of "first reaction," "reflex" and automatic response that through inclination and practice is your first spontaneous response to a situation or in your job or recreation.

Many people have faith in God to some degree, but there is a dividing line that is very important because one side is very prone to temptation to sin despite their faith, while the other side is more protected from sin.

That dividing line is whether your first reflex, your automatic reflex, is to trust God.

Many faithful have as their first instinct, no matter what the situation, to trust God, even if they do not understand their situation. This, by the way, is one of the great traits of many Muslims that I know. But many Christians also are blessed by this first response.

It is like if you do that reflex test, where the physician taps your kneecap while you are sitting, your leg, if it is healthy, reflexively swings forward.

The faithful who are the most protected against sin are those whose first reflex when tapped, and when they go through their day, is trust in God. I don't mean a specific trust about expectations of an action by God, but that steady trust that God is always present, always good, always ultimately in control, and always desiring that all will come to know and love him.

When one has that constancy of trust in God one is less prone to sin, to be tempted to sin, or, frankly, to even notice temptations when they occur!

On the other side of the line are those who have faith in God, but their first reflex is not to trust him. These are the ones most prone to sins of hubris, to manipulation of other people and situations for their own benefit, and to the many temptations of life. Their first reflex day to day is not a constancy of trust in God. They are the type of people who will pray to God, but practice some occult activities "just in case."

Let me give you a personal example of the most helpful mindset. My father died suddenly of a heart attack when I was only eight years old. I was terribly sad and grieved so much that even though I have, as I've blogged before, nearly perfect memory of even when I was an infant, I remember very little-almost nothing-of the two weeks after my father died. I don't even remember my grandmother and great aunts who were there to mourn and comfort. I loved my father deeply and miss him steadily, although it has never hampered my emotional or day to day life. And you see, that is the difference. I have an unshakable trust in and knowledge of God.

No matter what evil humans do to each other, including to me, and what sadness of life that all humans encounter, my first reflex is the constancy of my trust in God. In other words, I do not have a fickle relationship with God that blows in the wind and changes according to what happens in life. Too many modern people are fickle, allowing the day to day activities of life to actually filter and change their view of God, as if God's own true nature changes according to whether a traffic accident occurs or someone gets cancer.

Too many people change their perception of God as if they are blowing in the wind, thinking that with every little thing that happens in life that this tells them something "new" or "different" or "limiting" about God. It is like if you as a baby changed your mind about your mother if she fastens your diaper on the left side first or the right side first that day.

This does not mean, of course, that people cannot wonder and ask God "why" something happens. The problem is that one really does not have a right to ask that question if one has a mindset that does not have a platform of faith and constancy of trust in God as your first reflex. In my case I never questioned "why" my father died, because it is obvious that life is short, unpredictable, and many men of his generation smoked (3 packs of Camels a day in his case), ate poorly in terms of fats, proper and rapid medical response was lacking, and there was a "type A" tendency back then when the life span on average was only 65 years. So as a child I would never think either "why" to God, nor would I worry about "where" my dad "is," since I trust God and know that a God fearing man like him is in eternal bliss in heaven.

Those who believe in God but do not have a first reflex of trust in God will use things like my father's death to explore oppressive and manipulative actions and theories, and therefore are prone to temptation to the occult, and also to the false idols of money, power and "the best" of everything, including health care and artificial beauty.

Think again to the changing the diaper example. What if when a mother changes the baby's diaper in a slightly different way each time that the baby then assumes that mother is "bad" and "not to be trusted," and maybe motherhood as a whole is subject to suspicion. A "real mother" would, like a robot, change the diaper in precisely the same order of motion, at the exact same time intervals (even if the baby is not obligingly pooping at the right times) and so forth. It is that irrational thought process and lack of trust in the day to day variability of life that results in, our analogy, lack of trust of the loving and good mother as she properly changes the diaper but with natural day to day variability and, therefore, to my point, a reflexive lack of trust in God.

The actions of human beings, and the risks of ordinary life, are things that have absolutely no impact on God's nature (except he grieves along with people) and they provide no insight into God. God was God even before the universe existed. He does not change.

For one's own spiritual health and ultimately one's own goodness and sanity, one must, if one claims to believe in God, have an unshakable first instinct of trust in God. Trust in God must be your background and foundational first reflex.

Ask Captain "Sully." Did he, as he was in crisis of piloting the plane, think, "Hmm. I wonder if gliding really works. Gliding just doesn't make sense. I mean, isn't a plane heavy and air light, so the plane ought to drop like a stone?" Um, no, precisely because being trained in gliding and being a glider pilot for years, in addition to his other training, Captain Sully doesn't suddenly wonder if gliding "exists" and "works;" his first reflex is to trust in what he has learned and what he knows works and just do it.

Likewise humans cannot live, cannot be saved, and cannot be charitable to others if they "have faith" and "believe" in God, but their first reflex throughout life is not to trust him, or to "trust" him but then "revisit" that trust as a "result" of each and every event. Like being a glider pilot that trust is not handed to you on a silver platter. You must be aware of your need for that first reflex of response of trust in God and work on it.

However, I will say that for many people (often those who do not have self inflated narcissism about their intellect) such a trust in God is a natural reflex. However, those who are late to come to believe in God (such as being raised in low faith, cult or atheistic households) are at a natural disadvantage, and they should be humble about it, not questioning of God and arrogant. Like the baby who understands that mother changing his or her diaper is not a robot, a child who is raised to love and trust in God makes that understanding their first reflex.

I am very dismayed at the many people who think they will be saved because they "believe" in God, and "have faith," yet they do very disturbing things in parallel, actions that are indicative of not trusting God and worse, manipulating innocent people around them as part of what they seem to think is their "power sharing" agenda "with God." It makes me shudder and destroys my heart to see this.