Every once in awhile I ask my daughter to tell me a story. Her animated style is excellent. Sometimes what she says makes sense and sometimes you get what follows:
Once upon a time there was a little bear and a choo choo train came along and they crashed (insert dramatic ‘oh no’ here) but the Bear became sick and he was trapped in a (wait for it) birdcage and went on a biiiiiig yellow slide and then he crashed (oh no) into an (wait for it) Orange! and he looked into the sky and around and around and around and around he goes.
I loved the story and I felt sorry for the bear and was wondering how big that orange must have been. It is delightful to hear children tell stories. They take a little from this and that and often add details of things that are right before them. They are unencumbered with logical flow or endings, the joy is in the telling… but only for so long until they are on to the next thing.
Often times our faith journey’s are very similar to my 3 year old’s story telling skills. We are enthusiastic about telling our story and we sponge up details from all around us, but too often we don’t know how to put our story together. Our faith stories and what we believe are often fragmented and random experiences that we hardly take time to process before we move on to the next distraction in our life.
Do you ever think about what you believe? Do you ever think about how what you believe can add or detract from your life? Perhaps the real question is not what you believe in, but what do you have faith in.
Many people point to Christians and do not see a change in their life. They see people who profess a belief but live with little faith that what they believe is true. They see Christians tell a story with great animation but with no visible conviction and as people who get distracted by the next shiny object or idea that comes their way.
How we respond to a belief is the difference between conversion and discipleship. The convert says, “that looks nice, I believe that to be true. I will claim that as my own”. It requires nothing of them. They can pick and choose and generally do so by adding things incompatible with their chosen belief. Faith, on the other hand, moves us to a place of commitment. Faith means we act on what we believe. Faith moves us past conversion and into discipleship. Jesus didn’t say “go make converts” he said “go make disciples”. Faith requires us to think about what we believe and interact with it. Faith leads us beyond the glitz of good animation and into a life of depth and purposeful living.
I love my daughter’s stories and they are appropriate for a 3 year old and randomness works for her. My faith story, however, I want it to have purpose and depth. Is your life made up of belief or faith? Is your belief peripheral or essential? Is it just a cute story or does it matter?