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Monday, June 11, 2007

Grace Oakley: Reflection of Faith

Twice a year - every year - we have a Celebration of Youth Service at St. Paul's. The kids plan everything - music, who will read what and who will give the "reflection." Without a doubt, these are some of the best services we have in the church. This past Sunday was certainly no exception.

The following reflection was given by Grace Oakley.

She's 16 years old.

I'm so proud I could burst.

“Reflection of Faith”
By Grace Oakley
June 10th Youth Service

According to the dictionary the definition of faith is: belief in, devotion to, or trust in something without logical proof. And although the dictionary tries its best to define faith, I don’t think that it can be defined. It’s more about a feeling. Faith isn’t something you can reach out and touch; it’s something you know, something indefinable.

To me faith is something that I have struggled with my whole life. Faith and I have been through a lot: I have found, it lost it, found it again, relied on it, and ignored it. But when I need it its always there for me. There are some things in life that can’t be proven, you just have to have faith that they happen. Without faith there would be no religion.

There is no real legitimate proof of the miracles god preformed, yet we have faith that they happened. And I don’t just mean faith in God; I’m talking about faith in anything from parents, to friends, to the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. And then of course there is faith in one’s self.

That, for me, is the hardest one. When I agreed to do this talk I had no idea how I would write it, at the moment faith and I were in a fight and things had been kinda tough for me, I had lost faith in my self and in God. I still went to church on Sundays, and continued with my life. And to be honest nothing really bad had happened, it was just a bunch of little things that had been pilling up for a while.

But the prayers didn’t mean anything to me. And my loss in faith was costing me more than I thought. Usually when I’m stressed out, exhausted, and it feels like things can’t get any worse (which by the way they can) I have faith that things will get better and that God will help pull me through: and things do get better. But now to me things didn’t seen to be getting any better if anything they seemed to be getting worse, and it seemed that there was no end in sight.

But then I started thinking; God had helped me get through every other hard time in my life so far. He had always been there for me even when I was mad at him, or when I felt that things weren’t ever going to work out. He had proven over and over that things do get better, and even if you don’t have what you want right now you will get it eventually.

I realized that I might not have exactly what I want right now, and that at times life can deal you an unfair deck, but things will get better it you believe that they will. I realized that this time was not so different from all the others. All I needed was a little faith.

There is no logic to faith, it can’t be organized or classified, it just is. There is no way to define it, or even to describe it. Even when I thought I had lost it, it was there, all it took was a little searching.

And once I found it I knew that it had been there all along.


Bill said...

Congratulations, Grace, that was a great sermon. I had to re-read it a couple of times to take a closer look. Toward the end of your work, you write “He had proven over and over that things do get better, and even if you don’t have what you want right now you will get it eventually.”

My take on this, is slightly different. You may not get what you want. You may not even recognize it when you get it. But you will get something and it will probably work out better in the end. God tends to take the strategic or long view. God is the master chess player. I had issues some years back and thought I knew what the solution should be. I was wrong. What eventually happened turned out far better in the long run. I had to go through heart-break and depression to get to a new life. But, now that I’m here, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

The reflection is beautiful; I sometimes wish that our congregation had more youth speaking opportunities as well. I would love to meet other young enthusiasts to relate to. However sometimes I find I disagree with the idea that faith--and religion--has no logic to it. Quite the contrary, I've found that the people to whom I speak about religion more frequently have taken refuge in the intellectual portion of faith. In the art of apologetics, particularly, faithful people defend the Christian standpoint intellectually, and this wins skeptics over.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that sometimes, the emotional need for Christ is present and ready to flourish. The only thing holding the person back really might be the intellect--I know a few people like this who I have helped through the nurture of the mind. Once people see that the mind, body, and soul can all be in harmony with God, they often give me a big hug and give their lives to Christ. Although this reflection rings true to the longing of the heart to follow God, the mental part should not be neglected. Sometimes, people need to be healed intellectually as well, and to exclude this from the miracle of faith might be an injustice to those individuals: they do, after all, need God as much as anyone else. And nothing should be expendable in the act of God's healing.