Faith and friction
The Olympic Winter Games start this weekend. I’m a big fan of the Olympics in the winter because it gives me something to do while I’m bundled up inside, avoiding the cold. One of my favorite sports to follow is curling. It fascinates me to watch a team slide a heavy rock down the ice, sweep feverishly in front of it as it moves, and land it somewhere in the middle of a target.
The sweepers are the most impressive. It might not seem like they’re particularly productive; but the entire sport depends on their skill and accuracy. More sweeping means less friction and the stone travels faster, farther, and straighter. Less sweeping allows for the stone to slow down and it even starts to turn or “curl” a little bit. It’s all very precise. Without their care, the rock might fly aimlessly down the ice and into the abyss (or the wall).
I want this to be a perfect metaphor for God. I want to believe in a God who consistently manages the friction in our lives. I wish that God would sweep me through the obstacles that slow me down or get me stuck and stop sweeping to allow some stability in my life when things seem hectic or out of my control. It’d be a lot easier if God directed me down a safe path towards a specific target.
Instead, we’re seemingly left on our own to fumble about and find our own way in a world where tragedy, loss, pain, and fear are very real.
Our God doesn’t fit into either of these extremes. God does not tinker with our every move to shield us from harm; however, God does not leave us alone either. God has promised to be with us in the good times and the bad.
In Hebrews 11, the author tries to articulate this mind-twister: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We believe in a God that we cannot see. We trust that God is present even when we feel like we are alone. We pray and desperately hope for God’s love to be as real for us as the world around us.
Without a cosmic sweeper to guide us, our lives are often chaotic. We collide and we float off into the abyss. But perhaps we can remind each other of God’s promised presence (whatever that might look like) and believe in it together – ensuring that we are indeed not alone in this world.
–Josh Kestner, pastor in residency