Learning What We Already Know

On every journey, we desire to travel with purpose and foresight.  We begin the journey, not knowing everything we will experience, but we leave, having prepared for the unknown.  One aspect of the unknown on the journey of faith is not the unexpected surprise, but what is expected, for part of the journey is learning what we already know.

Inherent in the journey of faith is learning again what we have already learned because our faith reaches deep inside of us as well as widely into the world.  It impacts all aspects of our lives, and it is renewing and redeeming, so it continues to rise up inside of us with new insights and calling us to new dimensions of a life of faith.  These are not unexpected surprises, but they are quietly woven into the unknown, as we are surprised by the grace of God in what we already know.

In the beginning of the journey, we learn about prayer and silence, the nearness of God, church and community, discerning a calling, and serving others.  As the journey continues, we learn what we already know, for the practice of prayer, nearness of God, community of the church, and calling of service begin to unfold into a life of faith.  Our faith becomes dynamic, never static.

It is why we should never hang our baptismal certificates permanently on the wall.  The waters of baptism are the beginning, and we will need to take the certificate down off of the wall to look at it time and time again, so we can continue to learn what we already know.  We come to a deeper understanding of faith, as we wrestle with the questions in front of us and as we listen for the voice of God.

We start by learning that prayer is a conversation with God, but then it unfolds into communion with God, not simply a conversation.  Prayer ceases to be our words only, and we learn how God can form the words of our prayers, as the gospel gives them direction, deepening what we hope for in this world, which shapes our faith as well.  We also learn that silence is more than sitting still; we learn that silence is never empty.  Silence is actually full of God's presence, altering how we see reality.  All of the sudden, what is real seems temporary, and what is eternal seems more like reality.

We continue to learn what we already know as we read about the nearness of God in scripture and then as we discover God's solidarity with us in suffering.  We experience the solidarity of God as redeeming, seeing a glimmer of light even in the darkness.  We continue to learn that the community of the church is the body of Christ, as the people of God form hope, patience, courage, humility, and generosity in us.  We start to recognize the gift of the shared journey.  We also continue to learn that God calls us to share in the life of Christ, which is demanding, but life giving as well, and we uncover an abundant life, marked by mercy.

A life of faith is a life of learning what we already know because faith is ever deepening and ever widening.  We can never exhaust faith, hope, or love.  We continue to return to them, for their depths are unending.  It is why the journey of faith surprises us with what we already know.