Flickers of Faith
Flickers of Faith
By Annette McDaniel
Worn out from shopping and waiting for my ride, I noticed a weathered old bench at the edge of the park. It was occupied by a middle-aged man who seemed to be dozing but I needed to sit, so I quietly lowered myself on the far end of the seat. The man raised his head and acknowledged me with a nod, then settled back comfortably on his half of the bench. His hair grew past his shoulders, thinning and gray and framed a tanned and deeply creased face. His shirt while clean was faded and a bit wrinkled. Worn denim jeans and scuffed sneakers completed his outfit. My analytical mind categorized his condition as either homeless or hippie. (How easy it is to make assumptions on outward appearance).
Since I had invaded his space and he was now awake and aware of my presence, I felt the need to apologize for disturbing him. But what came out of my mouth startled me more than it did my bench mate “So, what gives you joy,” I asked? Instantly I wondered where that remark came from.
The man straightened up and looked thoughtfully off into the distance through marble-blue eyes. “What gives me joy?” He hitched himself around facing me with a pensive smile and drawled. “Well, I’d have to say that first morning cup of coffee. Then there’s good friends…, interesting conversation…., friendly greetings from strangers…” At this he smiled.
He paused, caught his breath and sighed. I suddenly wanted to hear more but my ride had arrived. “You have a blessed day.” I told him as I gathered my packages and headed toward the car. “Peace,” he responded as I turned to go.
“Oh… and starry nights” he hollered after me.
Years later I remember that brief exchange with delight. My question to the stranger came from a source other than my conscious mind. And his response fed my soul more than I could have anticipated. It still does. I wish I knew what else was on his list of joys.
I think of those moments as “flickers of faith.
Now I look for every opportunity to recognize the moment and fan the flame. I want to be open to finding that spark in another soul. I want to look beyond the outward appearance and see the heart like God does. (I Samuel 16:7) I want to be led by the Holy Spirit to speak a comforting word whenever possible. I want to listen more and talk less. I want to expand my “joy list.”
Being believers does not give us the franchise on joyful living. We may know the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23), and have memorized the Twenty-Third Psalm. We can recite the Lord’s Prayer. All these are admirable but there is something more. As Jesus told the rich young ruler, following the rules is commendable but serving and loving others is good and seeing the goodness in others is even better. We are not exclusive in in our search. Many who have never ventured into a church building are heading in the right direction in their quest for wholeness. God speed them on their journey!