A telescope is a telescope. But depending on which end you hold up to your eye, it provides a very different view of the world. In order for a telescope to do what a telescope was made to do, you need to look into the right end of it. To bring things which are far away and fuzzy into a closer and clearer view, it’s important to apply the telescope correctly, to look at the world through the lens intended.
Can I suggest that faith is like a telescope? That faith is faith, and is to applied to how we view the world. But, like the telescope, we can view faith through the wrong end. We can see our world, our life circumstance, through the lens of our faith (the right way), or we can form our faith based on the realities of our world. That what we believe about God, and His love for us, can be shaped pragmatically by working backward from how our lives are playing out, rather than taking our daily testings, trials, and temptations and processing them through the lens of what we know to be true about God.
Psalm 27 is what’s got me thinking about the context of faith.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
(Psalm 27:1-2 ESV)
Reading through David’s song it seems like it’s a back-and-forth processing of his current situation as he employs his faith telescope the way it should be employed. Evil doers assail me, but the LORD is my light, my salvation, my stronghold. Whom shall I fear? It is they who will eventually stumble.
But, if he were to turn it around, he might conclude that his God leaves him in darkness, has abandoned him to defeat, and provides very little protection because “evildoers assail me” and are eating him alive.
An army encamps around him, a war rages before him, yet he is confident that the LORD will “hide me in His shelter” and “conceal me under the cover of His tent” and “lift me high upon a rock.” Though the going is tough, yet he keeps going because of the assurance of eventual victory. Convinced that his head will be lifted up above his enemies and that he will, one day, offer sacrifices with shouts of joy in the very presence of God (27:3, 5-6).
How can he be so confident?
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4 ESV)
He’s a “one thing” guy. Seeking first God’s presence. Setting first his mind on things above. With the eye of faith knowing that what plays out today will resolve itself according to what God has promised for tomorrow. Not betrayed by the temptation to look through the other end of the telescope that says God can’t be trusted because life is so tumultuous.
His situation is desperate. Though all seem to have forsaken him (v. 10a), though false witnesses oppose him (v. 12a), though his adversaries are breathing down his neck (v. 12b), the songwriters response isn’t, “What does this teach me about You, God?” Instead, he pleads, “Teach me Your way, O LORD, . . . because of my enemies” (v. 11). His footing would be founded on the reminder of who God is. His path would be leveled by fresh instruction concerning the truth of what God had revealed. His stability a result of his surety concerning His Savior.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
(Psalm 27:13 ESV)
The context of faith. The right way to view our world. The only way to keep on keepin’ on.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
(Psalm 27:13-14 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.