I knew a woman of great faith. You probably know one or two, as well.
If you were to knock on her front door, I know she’d greet you warmly. She’d invite you right in and put on the tea kettle in the kitchen, while pulling out the fine bone china teapot with the yellow floral pattern to prepare her finest Earl Grey tea for you.
You’d be given a choice of several teacups, each with a different floral pattern. Your pick. She’d invite you to sit down at the linoleum topped kitchen table. It’d be hard not to notice the vintage 1950’s décor – a real grandma’s house – and my dear 87 year old friend serving you tea and English biscuits, well it feels right.
It’s a bit of a tight fit at the table, these older houses didn’t add any extra space in the kitchen. You’ll need to tuck your chair under the table a bit to keep your back from touching the refrigerator door behind your chair. Cozy. Everything about this kitchen says ‘Make yourself at home. No hurry.’ We’ve got all the time we need. You’ve got someone who wants to listen.
I tell you this story to let you in on my real life picture of a faith filled life. I expect faith to be a personal thing – yet, I’ve noticed when faith goes deep down into the heart of us – well, it spills out onto the lives of those around us.
Join me in a brief imaginative journey through different ways faith ‘walks’ through our lives, and ways our faith ‘walks’ with others.
I’d call my 87 year old friend’s faith a ‘Down Here’ faith. She lived life low to the ground. I think Down Here faith is quietly hospitable. Here to serve. Here to be present. Here to listen.
It doesn’t placate others with advice – this kind of faith loves others by inviting them into life – to do it together. Down Here faith is present for others. Here. Not elsewhere. Not too busy. Not too tired. Down Here faith is ready to befriend and walk with people through life.
Another type of faith I’d call ‘Up There’ faith, which is always looking up. Up There for answers. Up There for solutions. She doesn’t look you in the eye too often – her vision is focused upward. Her words are true and substantial – but, sometimes you might prefer to be listened to.
Up There faith has easy answers. She always carries a road map with predestined stops – “A”, “B”, and “C”. Up There faith always knows where she’s going, and where you should go, too.
Up There faith is usually in a hurry. She doesn’t have much time to wait. She’s got the agenda, the solution – call her when you are ready to move – forward!
Down Here faith has no GPS tracking system. The road – the solutions – are not clearly marked. Down Here faith relies heavily on day to day, down to earth, knee-to-floor prayers.
The destination may be blurry, but the One you are following is clearly visible.
Down Here faith lives in today – not in tomorrow, or yesterday. She walks through people’s lives quietly, often not speaking words – but walking the tough road of life with them. You feel her presence as she walks side by side with you, she leaves a visible footprint.
Down Here faith shows up. On time. She’s available and has the time. Now. To do what is needed – to laugh, or cry, or just be present.
Down Here faith shows you what to do – she doesn’t tell you. She’s here and she does the thing, wordlessly, and you can follow, if you’re ready. Down Here faith doesn’t tell you when you’ve taken a wrong turn, she quietly holds your hand until your ready to turn around and try again.
I think true faith has some Up There and Down There faith in it. I think Down Here Faith intersects with Up There Faith in an interesting place – in our vision – our focus. Down Here faith requires and an Up There reality.
Faith is ‘looking up’ living – a life down here, while looking up there for hope. Isn’t that faith’s true call?
When I think of my friend’s great faith, I remember the lyrics from a Christian song –
“They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”. (source)
I think that may be true. Love might be faith’s footprint to the world.
**Lord, as I look up may You strengthen my vision and expand my hope – and, may Your love and grace spill over into my down here life.