I often like to sit on my favourite perch and cogitate quietly. So the other day, I found myself remembering back to when I was a young fledgling parrot. At that time, I had to pluck up courage and leave the safety of my nest for the very first time. At that precise moment, I had no other option but to take a giant leap of faith. So I jumped out into the open air, and hoped that my wings would start to work. And fortunately, they did, so I spared the indignity of crashing to the ground.
As we all embark on our everyday lives, we often find ourselves having to take leaps of faith. Sometimes they’re big ones and sometimes they’re small. For example, when I was in church last week, I decided to pay a stranger an impromptu visit; I hadn’t got a clue how they’d react as I landed on their head, but they turned out to be “parrot-friendly.” And it’s much the same for humans when they decide to get married or start a family, or even get on a bus and put their safety in the hands of an unknown driver.
Some time ago, my owner took a rather different kind of leap of faith. He was looking on-line for some unusual types of tomato and pepper seed because he’s completely mad and grows dozens of plants every year in his greenhouses. And he stumbled across some interesting varieties which he really wanted to try. But then on reading the details of the seller, he realised that they were being supplied by a lady based in the Ukraine. And not just anywhere in the Ukraine; she lives in Zaporizhzhia where the Russian forces have taken over the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and where they regularly shell the local inhabitants. The seeds were not particularly cheap, but my owner came to realise that the seller was doing her best to make ends meet under extremely difficult circumstances. And so he took a leap of faith, because he wanted to help her, and therefore ordered multiple packets. Of course, the whole thing could have been a scam. The lady and her seeds could have been blown up before she could post them. Or the local situation could have deteriorated and made it impossible for any postal service to operate.
Well, some six weeks later, arrived a package bearing Ukrainian stamps. And there inside, all beautifully wrapped up in protective foil, were the seeds that my owner had ordered. Despite the seemingly impossible odds, they’d made it safely to him.
And you know, we all have to do something similar when we start to believe in Jesus and the Christian faith. When we view everything from our worldly perspective, it’s all too easy for us to conclude that the stories in the Bible are all fictitious and that God and Jesus don’t really exist. The very first time we walk into church or allow our minds to be open to the possibility of a divine creative force, then we are taking a leap of faith. And that’s the hard bit. Once we’ve taken it, things can start to happen. Our blinkers can come off and a new awareness and understanding of our place in the world can begin to evolve inside us. Suddenly, the God and Jesus that we’d thought of as fiction become a living reality in the people and the world that we see all around us. As if by magic, and all because we took that initial leap of faith, however shaky it may have seemed to us at the time…
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
(Martin Luther King Jnr: 1929-1968: Afro-American Baptist Minister & civil rights activist)
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”