Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tenacious Faith

By Jeff Arthurs
Professor of Preaching & Communication and Dean of the Chapel

I've been a Christian since 1972—37 years! You'd think I would be farther along in the faith, wouldn't you? But as the poet Wordsworth said, "The world is too much with us." Or better, as the Apostle Paul said, "that which I want to do, I don't do; and that which I don't want to do, I find myself doing. . . . Who will deliver me from this body of death?" The answer, of course, is "God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Here is a prayer to God for deliverance. It is a sonnet. It asks the Lord for something I crave yet experience only sporadically—the happy, free, seemingly effortless faith I see in so many of my friends. Belief for them seems to be as easy as breathing, but for me it always has been a stretch.
Tenacious Faith
Tenacious faith I know and yet begrudge.
I’d like a faith of ecstasy and cheer,
Or even faith of penitence and fear
Of God, the omnipresent Father-Judge.
Easy faith, happy faith—a call,
A gift? Why not mine? My walk is fretful
Fumble-feeling, wander-wondering, wishful
Stumble-striving for that plane where Paul
(And others) seem to live ebulliently.
He (and they) feel sure that neither life,
Nor death, nor angels, no, not this world rife
With powers may undo capriciously.
Increase my faith, my Lord (I do believe).
Send rain to this dry land: revive, relieve!

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