Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Math of Faith

Always when we are confronted with a complex math problem we will wrestle with doubt as to whether we can actually solve it. We will feel insecure how to approach it and the path towards the solution, which we know exist, is far from obvious. This is the agony of faith or laboring faith, if you like. It in many ways resembles or feels like laboring up a steep hill. There is nothing wrong with having a laboring faith and we do not take any condemnation for it.
In accordance with the nature of math different paths will have to be explored in order to find the one that leads to the answer. These paths might be Hagar, Saul or even Judas, and they will contribute nothing towards a solution. But, there is wisdom to be extracted from each of them.
While wrestling with the problem still laboring uphill in faith you will pass a certain point of elevation and in the instant you are there you suddenly know that the answer is within your reach. It is like you are standing in front of a wide open expanse, and a profound peace settles in. This is the laboring faith becoming the rest of faith. There is still terrain to traverse, but now the steps are light while the final calculations are made with confidence, peace and a quiet joy.
In a true faith adventure the settling in doesn’t come from the persons involved. Nor does it come from circumstances. It comes from He who is the Substance.
In any commission humbleness is a deed. Don’t think too highly about yourself when there is no reason to. If you are wrestling with doubt; admit it. If you are stuck; admit it. If you don’t radiate the level of faith you thought you had; admit it. Call for assistance from the Teacher who gives liberally without upbraiding anyone. Stubbornly wrestling with the problem without calling for assistance will only leave you mulling over it without making any progress.
The mystery of faith (and of math) will remain unknown to a person if he does not have the will to enter therein. He enters by his own free will and by that is joined to the Spirit of faith. To stand on the outside is safe, but the glory belongs to the one who is inside the adventure.
The desire that drove a person to commit himself to a given task might grow cold halfway through. He might either give up his desire or have it renewed. If he give up he will be praised for his heroic effort and applauded for that he tried, but he will soon be forgotten. No one will charge him for having given up. No one will condemn him for it, but only those who persist to the end will be remembered in the spirit of Abraham.
Of course there will be pain and suffering along the road. It will sometimes hurt so much that we are tempted like Jonah to run away and build our own shield to cast a protective shadow over our heads. However, the shield will soon wither and the sun will find us again and burn our heads until we give in and move on.
A Norwegian poet wrote: Without uphills it is impossible to climb higher.

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