Welcome to the Faith, Fully project. If you’re new to the project, you can read more about it and join us if it strikes your fancy. And you can follow us here or on the Faith, Fully Facebook page. You can read every Letter 1, or follow all the letters.

Dear Brad,

Thanks for inviting me to join you in reflecting upon Faith. Fully.

For me faith is a complicated conversation. As a boy my parents nurtured me in the Christian faith. I read the biblical stories and was fascinated by them. Creation, bang! Moses, Joseph, Jacob and Esau, John the Baptist, wild guys! Daniel and the lions, amazing! Walls of Jericho, exciting! Jesus, cool! These stories captivated my imagination. I longed for such exciting adventures.

These stories left me wondering about God’s engagement with the world in which I lived. Where was that stuff happening around me? My life was boring. I just attended school and completed my chores each day. Nothing nearly as exciting as what I read in the pages of Scripture each evening under the sheets on my bed with a flashlight in hand.

I longed for an exciting life. Yet with each passing year faith became a more complex and complicated subject. Eventually the struggle became clear for me: language. All of my grammar lessons flowed back to my mind reminding me of that simple truth: a noun is always a person, place or thing. In the English language faith functions as a noun. In such a world of nouns faith was something to be possessed. Perhaps it was a list of behaviors to follow or a thing to hold like a good luck charm or a set of beliefs. But such a world is flat; without life.

My quest for an exciting faith led me to a deeper inquiry about language. I learned that in some languages faith could be employed as a verb. Not only could faith be a verb but, etymologically, it had everything to do with one’s heart. Drawing from the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin origins faith, I came to discover, had a lot to do with giving one’s heart to something or someone. In many ways it wasn’t intended to be something one possessed but was an invitation into a way of life. Simply put, for me, faith orients the longings of one’s heart. Faith is more like a compass than a map. I don’t know the terrain around the next corner but I know the good toward which my heart is being drawn.

Ultimately, for me, it is Jesus who gives texture to this way of life, as his life points me toward good; toward love; toward faithfulness; toward justice; toward peace; toward forgiveness; toward reconciliation; toward hope. Simply put, Jesus is my due North. I may stumble off the path on some days.   Nevertheless, my hope and prayer is that I will embody such a Faith. more Fully. each day.

Again, thanks for inviting me to think more deeply about living Faith. Fully.

Gratefully,

Jeff Barker