There is no doubt that faith leads to a positive outcome. Think about the bible story of the woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28) who was healed thanks to her faith.
Through faith we have a sense of security, a sense of direction, a sense of belonging. We gain a strength and comfort in dealing with the challenges of life. When we have faith in God it is amazing how things can fall into place in our lives.
Where does faith come from? One thing for sure, like anything else in life worth having, it doesn’t just happen. We actually have to work at it. I believe that faith grows out of experiences. Each experience is like a seed, planted into our psyche, ready to germinate and sprout into a fruit, a flower that will enhance and embellish our lives. I believe that here at Woodford we are in the business of sowing seeds. We offer a range of experiences that hopefully one day will grow and develop into a faith, whatever shape and form that faith might be. One thing we do ask is for you to keep an open mind. This applies to us all. Close the mind off and those seeds will never take on a life of their own. And of course, the decision to keep an open mind is ours and ours alone.
There is the story of a pilgrim who set out on a long journey in search of faith, peace, joy and love. Gradually, the young, lively steps became slower and more laboured. The pilgrim’s journey passed through landscapes that were not always happy ones. Through war. Through sickness. Through quarrels and rejections and separations. Everywhere he went God’s children seemed to be intent on hurting one another. But one morning the pilgrim came to a little cottage. Something about this little cottage attracted him. It was as though it was lit up from the inside. Full of curiosity, the pilgrim went inside. And inside the cottage was a little shop, and behind the counter stood a shopkeeper. It was hard to judge his age, and in fact there was an air of timelessness about the place.
“What would you like?” asked the shopkeeper.
“What do you stock here?” asked the pilgrim.
“Oh, we have all the things that you most long for,” replied the shopkeeper. “Just tell me what you desire.” The pilgrim hardly knew where to begin.
“I want faith. I want peace – for my family, for everyone. I want everyone on earth to live in freedom. I want this world to be a kingdom of love.”
For a moment he paused. Gently, the shopkeeper broke in. “I’m sorry,’ came the quiet reply. “I should have explained. We don’t supply the fruits here. We only supply the seeds.”
In the end, my friends, the desire, the drive, the motivation for faith, and therefore the fruits of faith, must come from within each of us. Seeds can be sown by others, seeds can be sown by our experiences, but if those seeds are to grow into anything, then we ourselves must take responsibility for the nurturing and cultivation of those seeds. If we are not open to God, then we will not experience God. And we will be much the poorer for it.
As Jesus said in Matthew, Chapter 7, ‘Keep on asking, and you will be given. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.’ And when that door opens, it opens to all sorts of opportunities, all sorts of fruits. Nothing worth achieving in life just falls into our laps; we have got to want it, we have got to work for it. It all comes from within.
Reverend Joy Hamilton-Jones, Chaplain