Last year at the age of 81, my father passed away. It was a peaceful passing from this life to the next and the grief process began for our family. Grief is difficult because most of us would prefer to avoid it, but truthfully the only thing we can do is go through it.
Over the last couple of years our family members have linked phones on an app called Life 360. It’s a location servicing app that lets us know where everyone is and that we’re all safe. After Dad passed away, Mom kept his phone charged for a while so she could have access to any information she might need from his phone. During that time, Dad’s status on his location showed, “At home since May 23.”
I wasn’t prepared for the initial sting of seeing this whenever I used my Life 360 app. I wanted to “run” from it or at least not look at it because it was very painful. Sometimes I wished that Mom would just turn it off completely because it was a sad reminder. But as time passed, the more I was exposed to that message, the more I thought, “You know that seems very appropriate. He is “at home” in heaven with Jesus and with loved ones who preceded him.” And it became a source of comfort, reminding me I could mourn but still have assurance that he is “home” and I have hope of a coming reunion.
A few weeks ago, my mom turned the phone off, and something unexpected happened. I assumed it would show no status at all, but instead the message changed to “location permission off.” Initially this message stung more than the first one, but as I further pondered the message, it also seemed appropriate.
We are so accustomed to finding comfort in what we “see” that we diminish our ability to trust what we cannot see. Without realizing it, I became dependent on seeing a message telling me where Dad was, but truthfully, faith requires that I believe and put my hope in this even when I cannot see it.
It’s the very definition of faith: We must believe God and act on His Word even though we cannot see Him or fully comprehend what He asks us to do.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Now obviously the “status message” on a phone app is not a true indicator of where my Dad is now that he is no longer on earth. But it served as a great reminder that in our relationship with Christ and in our walk as believers, living by faith is a critical element.
#1 Faith is critical for salvation:
When Jesus was preparing to leave earth and return heaven, He told His disciples this: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It is my Father’s faith in God, and my own faith in God that gives us hope of being together again just like Jesus and the disciples in this passage had hope of being reunited.
#2 Faith is critical for relationship:
A foundational element of any relationship is the ability to trust people. The depth of trust directly correlates to the depth of the relationship. Matthew 6:30; 33 says, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In a relationship with Christ, we must exercise faith that He not only provides a way to heaven but also what we need to survive here on earth. Please note that I did not say what we want here on earth but what we need.
The fulfillment of what our hearts long for will not truly be felt until we reach heaven. It’s also important to know these needs aren’t always met in the timeframe or way that is expected. Not because God is unkind but because He has all knowledge and wisdom and knows what we actually need.
#3 Faith is critical for sanctification:
There is a life-long process called sanctification by which believers are continually being transformed to be more like Jesus. The word literally means “to be made holy, or sacred, or set apart to God.” Maybe you’re wondering how/why faith would be critical for this process. But it’s much like healthy communication in marriage that allows one partner to bring attention to the other one’s behavior that is creating a problem and needs to be addressed.
The complaint is heard and considered by the spouse and a plan is formulated to make adjustments, or a conversation takes place for greater understanding and a plan is made together. For this to go well, partners must trust one another to prioritize what is in everyone’s best interest and trust that the complaint is about behaviors and not character attacks or someone’s worth.
This describes God’s approach to sanctification as well. He brings behavior changes to our attention, and if we trust His motivation and the value He places on us, we can accept His words and make necessary changes to the benefit of all.
#4 Faith is critical for hope.
Without putting our faith in God there is no hope in this life or for eternity. The message on my phone app that reminded me my Dad is “at home” in heaven with our Creator was comforting. The message that his “location permission is off” was a reminder that it is only through faith and not sight that I have hope of heaven, hope of being reunited, hope of something better than this sin-cursed world, and hope of reconciliation with God. My prayer is that you will put your faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for your sin and find peace while waiting for something better.