J Walking

J Walking

What is faith?

As most of the readers of this blog – and yes, depite the lull in my blogging this is still my blog – know I’ve been dealing with this tumor-type object in my brain for the past five years.
For the past 18 months we’ve been smacking it around with some chemo. And for 18 months it has been retreating. (There are no “buts” to follow — all is well). In fact, it has been retreating so much that for the last five or six weeks I haven’t even had the mildest seizure (and I only have very mild seizures in my left leg to begin with).
I don’t know what to do with this reality.
On the one hand it is thrilling. I haven’t gone this long between seizures for four years.
On the other hand I don’t want to get too excited about anything because I understand what the doctors say – I have a chronic illness and they have no way to cure me.
But somewhere in the midst of all of this is that famous five-letter word – faith.
I’m not sure how to handle faith at this moment. Do I have faith the seizures won’t return – something that would be, very simply, miraculous? Do I have faith that the tumor is shrinking? Do I simply rejoice in every day of life no matter what happens?
What do you guys think?

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posted May 6, 2008 at 12:44 am

Rejoice, be thankful, and take life one day at a time. We’ll continue to hold you up in prayer, David.

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Adam S

posted May 6, 2008 at 6:20 am

My pastor was preaching about faith this past weekend. He said that we often misuse the term and idea of faith. It is not something that happens because we believe hard enough, faith is simply believing that God will do what God said he will do. I don’t know what God has told you. But I have faith that God will continue to love you and care for you throughout the journey you have been on.

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posted May 6, 2008 at 7:11 am

I suppose I think we are in God’s hands, and that He is merciful and kind. It’s a funny thing about having a diagnosis, though. When you don’t post for three days, I think “chemo” and when you don’t post for four, I think seizure. I suppose if you didn’t have a diagnosis I’d think “lazy.” During this hiatus, I read about the manifesto several evangelical pastors signed taking up much of the thesis of Tempting Faith and wondered if you were in the forests of Northern Virginia arming yourself.

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The Apostles were conservative Christians

posted May 6, 2008 at 7:56 am

“Faith is the EVIDENCE . . .”
As a father that has buried a child before his 25th birthday, I know that faith is the evidence that our feelings are placed in us as proof that we are more than we know and are eternal in nature.
Enjoy every day David. You are in a position to really value that concept. This may make your entire life far more special than most people ever get to know.
Thinking about “how” the disciples lived every minute of every day, there is great confidence we can gather from the pages of the New Testament.

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posted May 6, 2008 at 8:00 am

Today is what we are assured…the rest we can plan for, pray for, hope for, but it’s not really in our hands. Live in the fullest, and always be certain that everyone in your life knows how much you love them. You have been handed good news…tell it to others. I’m not a religious person, but I know the power of Jesus’ words – the rest is less important.

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posted May 6, 2008 at 8:56 am

I think – thus the monicker – that we are given every day of our life as pure gift and that since my daughter’s recovery – gratitude – is the only thing that comes to mind. Yes we worry, but gratitude for the love we feel for her, gratitude for the good days and the not so good. Since your diagnosis – you have been given two children, a new lens on the world, a heart of compassion honed by your suffering. Perhaps all that is faith. It is all gift.

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Mary E. DeMuth

posted May 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

Rejoice today. Be grateful today. Smile about it today. Thank Him today.

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Martin G. Smith

posted May 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Every day you are given is a gift. Cherish the moments. Live
to the fullest. Embrace grace and share joy. This may sound
like Hallmark sentiment but it works!!

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posted May 6, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Glad to have you back.
Faith is letting God worry about the future, while we live for his glory today.

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posted May 6, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I’m pretty sure faith is not piety.

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posted May 6, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Today, I saw faith. My seniors left and I saw one little red-headed kid sobbing in the front hall. My memory went back to her first day in my class – and a more talkative, ditzy kid there never was. I recalled her coming to me and asking me to pray for her brother who lay in a coma after a drunk driving accident. I recall her sitting in my classroom – completely quiet now – too terrified of what was happening to her big brother to even chat with others.. I remembered her falling asleep in algebra because she had taken night duty – turning and cleaning her brother so that her parents could get rest. I remember the day she told me that she believed in God again – “because God is the only way to explain every good thing.” I recall calling her to tell her she had been chosen to lead a retreat – over all the others and hearing her say “thank you, thank, you. I remember seeing her stand in front of everyone and talk about Jesus – an no one laughed – they take someone like her very seriously indeed. And today was her last day with me. She wants to be a nurse and take care of people. She is going to school on an almost full scholarship. She is everything that faith could ever be. I believe in God because there are so many like her – the only explanation for every good thing – as she said to me over a year ago. I must admit – seeing her made me cry – in absolute gratitude. I suppose there is some professional reason I should not have allowed this kid to grab my heart. But, once you meet this crazy little red head – you understand faith. thanks kiddo….

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Albert the Abstainer

posted May 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

“Dream as though you will live forever, live as though you will die tomorrow” – Unknown.

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Linda Sue

posted May 6, 2008 at 10:30 pm

David – from what I’ve read about and by you – your faith is properly placed already – in that which is not seen and in a life we haven’t yet witnessed. I have faith that you will not die until the very second the Lord has planned for your life – and every moment until then – you should be living. My late husband had a very aggressive and advanced form of cancer when it was diagnosed – he tried some of the “support groups” and came home saying “I’m going to live my life – not die it”(which was actually mildly funny because since we were teenagers he had dieted off and on – but we both had twisted senses of humor) I digress – I rejoice at your change in circumstances and have faith your life will continue to be of great usefulness to the Lord.

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Eliot Ware

posted May 7, 2008 at 3:01 pm

“Do I simply rejoice in every day of life no matter what happens?” Yes, simply yes. And further rejoice in the knowledge that when this physical life ends, our eternal life begins. An eternity spent with the Father knowing that the Son has clothed us in His righteousness so that we will dwell forever with Him is reason to always be joyful. Remember that and spread it.

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posted May 8, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Letter #15 from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:
The humans live in time but our Enemy [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy [God], and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.
To be sure, the Enemy [God] wants men to think of the Future too — just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow’s word is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is now straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s [God’s] commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.
— I dusted off a copy … ok, I downloaded the audio version, as I began looking forward to seeing a theater production of it this evening.

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posted May 8, 2008 at 3:15 pm

At this point in my life, I am not affiliated with any particular Christian denomination; however, my faith in God and the promise of tomorrow has never dwindled. The passing of my father from brain and lung cancer in November 2006 challenged me in more ways than were predicted, prominently in the difference in approach my father had in comparison to me. Due to familial disappointment and a lifetime of self-indulgence, my father (at the ripe ole’ age of 46) was certainly not prepared for the trials that were to become of him. Unfortunately, my father did not last very long, eventually passing away after only 11 months. As I reflect today, I feel there is an undeniable connection between recovery/remission and positive thought and having a general faith in life. The only advice I have for you is to fight–fight like hell to hold onto the aspects in your life that have provided you strength, comfort and determination. Although our individual bodies vary in retention of damage and stress, I feel faith is undeniable in it’s power to motivate not only physical, but mental healing.

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posted May 8, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Faith is the belief that it will all turn out for the best even if it’s not what you want.

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posted May 12, 2008 at 9:08 am

I have visited you off and on for the past two years, ever since you hit the big public scene with your book and your many public appearances. I am sitting here at a yoga retreat in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Instead of reading another spiritual book, I decided to give myself a hit of a spiritual person. I recall your having mentioned the brain tumor on your book tour.
For me the mark of faith is the ability to trust the inner voice (some call it conscience) that tells us who we are and where we need to direct our attention. You have your attention in exactly the right place, one of service to others and nourishment to yourself. There is for me no better way to live. Because you live this way even in relatively good health, there is no reason to doubt that all your days on the earth will be this way, even when those days are predictably numbered. Faith is working in you, even when you are in the grip of fear. You give it out and you get it back. turn your attention away from the tumor. It is a noisy old witch cowering in the attic. You have a feast of guests in your house dancing and singing with joy!!

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Nancy Scott

posted May 16, 2008 at 12:38 am

Abandon yourself to God with joy and dance. He is the only assurance that any of us have. The one constant in a world that never stands still.

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