Faith in the Unseen

There are fluorescently white flurries flying toward my windshield at what seems like 200 miles per hour, and I feel as though I’ve been transported to a galaxy far, far away, speeding through the Solar System at the speed of light. I’ve never driven in snowfall, much less in a snowstorm in the pitch black countryside at 10pm. Though I am concentrating hard on picking out the reflective markers on the side of the highway and driving well under the speed limit (10 under might not be much, but you’ve got to remember I’ve been dubbed the Speed Demon by my family), the trajectory of the oncoming snowflakes is slightly amusing. Though they look malicious enough to break clear through the windshield and pummel my heat-blasted face with icy moisture, each flake dive-bombs out of the mortal peril of the windshield’s high velocity just in time. I wonder why, for so much snow, hardly any is landing on my windshield. But with the impending darkness ahead, I’m glad to have one less task taking up attention in my mental dashboard. My principal objective is to get my co-interns and me back to Crested Butte safely, my mind as full of prayer as the SUV is full of silence.

I am surrounded by white, suspended by the seemingly invisible layer of snow and hill below my skis. The heavily falling snow offers no respite for my straining eyes, no differentiation between icy ground, sky, and the space between. All I have is the awareness of my muscles to recognize the subtle changes in terrain. A slight bump here; a stomach lurching drop there. I find that, with the new powder and 5-foot radius of visibility around me, I am not very keen to rely on the knowledge that I will get down the mountain with my vision impaired. Even though I’ve done this run at least a dozen times already, I discover new intricacies to the terrain of the mountain I had never been as adept to notice before with my vision intact on a bluebird day. The icy patches feel much more tense, and my friend reminds me to stay at ease. I hadn’t noticed how rigid my body had become with the uncertainty of the weather conditions. Despite my efforts and awareness, my flexibility doesn’t seem to increase much. So I put my speed demon persona aside and focus on cultivating an adaptable response to the mountain below my skis.

Uncomfortable. Anxious. Tense.

I don’t like not being able to see.

Driving in what might as well be a blizzard for this desert valley girl, skiing in pitch whiteness: there’s a certain discomfort that occurs when we cannot see what’s ahead. In these two cases, fear of injury filled my consciousness, prompting me to rely on what few visuals I had accessible to me. In other cases, being unable to distinguish the path that lies before me can render me just as anxious. Though there are many parallels I could draw here, there is one that’s been on my mind as of late.

Faith is an act of trusting in something unseen. Many – if not most – times faith seems as though it is based in ridiculousness. Why would anyone trust in something intangible? Don’t we need solid, objective proof in order to believe?

But what would faith be if it weren’t for the intangible component?

I’ve often wondered why I have faith, why I trust that an unseen being created me and is waiting to welcome me home. At times it makes no sense. And more often than not my doubts appear in the times where I stand in the dark wake of the unknown, my mind flooded with the questions that highlight my greatest fears.

But there are two things I’ve realized through the cycle of my life: the past is a testament to the future, and we never stand in pure clarity of what’s to come.

When I look back, I can trace the trajectory of my life through a network of seemingly coincidental events. Those innumerable times spent shrouded in the anxiety of the unknown future turned out to be some of the most formative periods of my life. And though I’ve been completely unaware (and more often than not completely off track) of the path my future would take, the dawning of the future would always confirm the value of my faith. It is because of the clarity of the past that enables me to regain trust that everything will be okay when I’m overcome with worry and anxiety over the future. (There are many other reasons to substantiate my faith, and that's a topic for another day.)

What I’ve also come to realize is that faith recognizes that the future cannot be seen. Sure, I have goals and dreams that I am determined to reach. But faith allows me to recognize that we do not play the role of God. Funnily enough, it’s been in those time of perceived omniscience and control that I’ve been thrown off by the reality that I don’t have ultimate control over the universe. Because the universe is much, much larger than little ol’ me. There are so many complexities I’m unaware of, so many intricacies that the world is probably better off if I’m not able to control everything. Though this is completely contrary to my nature, it allows a sense of release. It allows me to be adaptable. To flex with the ebb and flow of life.

I took the StrengthsFinder test a couple years ago, and was dismayed to find that my third strongest quality is adaptability. In disappointment, I told my mentor, “This can’t possibly be right. I am not adaptable in any way!” And there is some truth behind that (ayo, unrealistic expectations). But over the past two years, I’ve become more accepting of the unknown. Because God has yet to fail me or prove that He doesn’t know me intimately and cannot provide the best future for me, I have faith, even driving in the snowstorm when all I have to look to is the highway markers to guide me home; even when I have absolutely no clue what terrain awaits me, steep or hilly. I know – and even more, believe – that the future holds a multitude of unknown gifts that will exceed any and all visions I concoct in my limited mind. The mind of God has no limits. He has proved that truth time and again. And so I trust in a future I cannot see, preparing my muscles to adapt to the new terrain provided, all because of His goodness.