Finding Your Faith

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Katie Hendrikson, Seminary Student

Lesson: Psalm 119:97-105 NRSV

I want you to take a moment…close your eyes. Imagine your life without the community of Augustana. Without church. Without faith. What does it look like?

Maybe you have more time in your schedule. Maybe you feel free from the guilt of not regularly attending church. I bet your life looks different… but what about the flipside? Without church, maybe you’re with one less community. One less friend. Perhaps, life is a little lonelier.

The book of Psalms is a collection of songs and poetry that reflect the feelings of its authors throughout history. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm found in the bible and there’s no particular person given credit for this writing. So, what’s the point of this passage?

Law…commandment…decrees…precepts… The Word of God. When we study God’s Word, we are learning to live our lives as Christians, as people of faith. Think of the numerous ways our actions are influenced by the word of God…

In each of the Gospels, we learn the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes. He feeds 5,000 people with the minimal fish and bread that is available. This story is a lesson from God telling us that there is always enough to go around- here at Augustana we share our abundance through meals at Loaves and Fishes, the Boys and Girls Club, and even with those at Neighbors, Inc.

In Luke 10, we learned of God’s Word through the story of the Good Samaritan. A man is laying injured on the side of the road and is ignored by a priest and a Levite. Then along comes a man, who we know as the Good Samaritan. He takes care of the injured man- he bandages his wounds, brought him to shelter, and provided him with care. God teaches us to care for our neighbors, no matter their injury, and we do that—through Befrienders, the Care team, and even the prayer shawl ministry.

The psalmist declares his love and devotion to studying the Word of God. This love and devotion gives him more understanding of the Word than his enemies, his teachers, and his elders. The psalmist is made wiser by the Word of God. As we grow in our understanding of the word of God, we become wiser and richer as well.

The bible is filled with stories and experiences of people of faith finding their way to Jesus and being guided by their faith in Jesus. And perhaps that’s exactly what it means to be a Christian- finding your own faith in Jesus. When I was in college, I found myself struggling in my Old Testament religion course. We were discussing the temples of Jesus’ time and how if they were to be found, it was likely remnants and nothing more. As a history major, I wanted the facts. I wanted proof that Jesus and his followers were real. How could I let something lead me through life without knowing if it even existed?

Through many conversations, sleepless nights, and phone calls back home, I realized exactly what it means to be a follower of Jesus… believing without seeing, not having the proof, BUT having faith that Jesus was real and that God really does exist.

Since this mini crisis of my own, I’ve found my own faith in Christ. I’ve learned that it’s okay to have these difficult conversations; it’s okay to question what we’ve been taught. What’s great about being a Christian and living a faith-filled life is that we get to choose it. Allowing yourself to believe in what is, even if the proof isn’t there. Let your faith be the guide through life.

As we’ve all learned in the last year, life can be tough and can change in a moment’s notice. In those moments, let your faith guide you. Think of the stories of Jesus and his followers and those who came before him- how would they react? In times when it feels hard to have faith; when the building is closed, and church feels different, we turn to the Word of God.

When we let faith guide our lives, it’s not exclusively doing what the bible says. Sure, that might be part of it for some, but think of everything else that comes with having faith and being a Christian. A Lutheran. How does Augustana fill your bucket? Maybe it’s through music or a cup of coffee; perhaps it’s making new friends or meeting a neighbor. When we let our lives be guided by our faith, we don’t just get the academic piece of church. It’s more than that- it’s community, fellowship, friendship, companionship.

The psalmist declares that God’s Word is a “lamp to his feet and a light to his path.” Through our study, understanding, and living out the Word of God, we too are guided by His word.

We can’t always see what’s ahead of us, but remember that God’s Word will light our path. Faith is believing without seeing, knowing that God is always with us; and this community is, too. We are bonded together by the Word of God. Let this Word be our guiding light through life. AMEN.

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