Rev. Dr. Chuck Moffett
Dr. Peter Marty, Editor/Publisher of “Christian Century” magazine is my inspiration for this column.
He reflects on the experience of his four-year-old daughter’s swim lessons in learning how to float in the water. The teacher would place one hand beneath her spine, and the others behind her legs. All was fine…until he withdrew his hands…immediately her tense little body would revert to a V-shape and she would sink in panic.
In order for buoyancy to work, one has to be relaxed enough to trust the capacity of the water to keep one’s body afloat. Fear of drowning can cause anyone to tense up and thrash in the water.
Dr. Marty says that, as a pastor, he has noticed a lot of people turn an otherwise significant faith life into a mostly panic-driven affair. The slightest new situation will twist a relaxed disposition of faith into one of mental strain and spiritual expenditure. “If I believe hard enough, or plead urgently enough, maybe God will come through.”
But here is the deal: the Greek word pistis, usually translated as faith or belief, would serve us a lot better if we were to translate it with its original dimension of TRUST. Trust is the relaxed attitude of receiving what God has given us in the first place – it is the antidote to panic.
Faith is trusting the totality of our lives to God. More than a superstitious bag of tricks, or an achievement born out of desperate flailing, faith is a gift to relax into, and from which to receive confidence.
Dr. Marty concludes by saying that his daughter, Rachel, eventually learned how to lessen her panic and enjoy floating. It did not happen because she strained harder, but because she trusted the strong, loving guy in the pool.