Our neighbor's barn is old (I can so relate). The wood frame is starting to give way and lean from decades of exposure to the unrelenting forces of nature. The tin roof has been loose for years and easily lifted and slammed back down by even small gusts of wind. And yet it stands, the reason for its original purpose for previous owners long forgotten. Something to do with horses.
One day, last fall, a fierce storm smacked the roof with giant fingers and rolled the edge of the tin roof like it was pie dough. Some in my tribe think it is now an eye sore but, outlier that I am, I see amazing art and profound life lessons in this damaged structure and marvel at the things it can teach us.
For one thing it is such a strong visual reminder for how fragile we are, though we feel as though we are the controllers of everything. We huff and puff and celebrate the modernity of our collected knowledge. Gosh darn we are so smart. We have logical, educated answers for most everything, and even those things that fall into the great unknown category can still be whittled down to manageable size by simply changing definitions and making subtle word substitutions. We have convinced ourselves that we can control all things with our profound intellect.
And then, one day, a catastrophe happens and spikes us to the ground like a volley ball. Suddenly we are confused and depressed and distressed and our intelligence is temporarily neutered. In recent months I've heard multiple people claim they have really returned to their faith during this trying era of Covid and political uncivil war. That sounds so good - people returning to faith, now that normal has been curled back like a tin roof.
But is this a subtle redefining of 'faith' to mean - 'that unknown thing we believe will surely rescue us because we 'believe'?
What if the truth is - faith in faith is not quite the same thing as faith in God - it is just another way to say we believe in our own good senses that there may (or may not) be 'something' bigger than us so we might as well hedge our bets. Just in case.
It's a pretty human thing to do.
But what if true faith, the kind that gives you true refuge in the storm, is believing in that which might not be what we want but what God wants?
The ugly wooden barn, regardless its distressed condition, still has a reason for being. Inside, up under the eves, birds and wasps build their nests, chipmunks dig their burrows in the stud footings below. In fact, the place is teaming with animal life, even the occasional feral cat litter.
The animals do not reason with themselves about how good the refuge is. They just accept the reality of it and thus, though it doesn't look good as we define good, it is good, by Higher Standards, nevertheless.