The Hum of Faith

Faith is a song that is hummed when we forget the words of belief or moaned when we don’t have the strength to repeat them. It is the steady beat of our belief in the ultimate authority and sovereignty of God. Without instrumentation and human composer, faith is not a performance or even a public service. 

At any moment, faith can go from a whisper to a shout, from private confession to public declaration. But, all the time, it is hummed. 

It is a continuous stream of the spiritual life. Not to be confused with background music, it is the underlying sound of our existence.

This faith is the buzz of heaven, the pulse of the Divine that throbs in our souls. If it is our foundation, then when we are shaken, this faith is at the base of who we are. No matter what we lose or who has left us, faith is there, waiting in the wings.

No matter our deficiencies, we can have faith. Despite our admission of various bankruptcies, no one can ever take our faith. Regardless of what is withheld, you can keep the faith.

The writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). Faith says, “Believing is seeing.”  

Faith does not need support but is the bearer of life’s load. Faith is what carries us and its posture and permanency need not be explained.  

When we are cornered by life and its circumstances, faith gets in the middle. It is what pushes back, intervenes and stops the attack, lest we become the latest victim of apathy, cynicism and despair.  

Presently, it might seem that the value of faith is at an all-time low. This might look like a good time to jump ship, to get out before it is too late and to put our faith in something else.

It could seem like our faith is not enough, that it takes something more than faith. Or we may believe there is a shortage of it. So, we surmise it is best not to believe in much of anything or perhaps, to spread it around.

We believe in this but also put our faith in that. “One of these has to be right. One of these has to work out.”  

If you’re reading this, start humming. Trust me when I tell you this: Life has a way of letting you know what you believe. The confession will come one way or the other.

Some of us have experienced defining moments. We take steps that mean there is no going back to how things were. It is right here that we learn faith is part improvisation and this is a truth that makes us free.

Thomas Aquinas made the distinction between “freedom from” (sin, hell, damnation, need and injustice) and “freedom for.” The church of my youth largely focused on the latter. 

As an elder millennial, I center my work on decolonizing Christianity and decentering “the white gaze” so that we question images of the Divine in whiteface, which moves my goal to the former. I am free for or free to commune with all human beings as children of God, to question the false binary of us and them, inferior and superior and the boundaries that deny opportunities for connection across race, class, culture and gender lines.

Now, my soul sings the raceless gospel. “A new body of theological literature is justified by the emergence of new challenges,” Gustavo Gutierrez confirmed in “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” I hear the words of somebodiness more clearly and finally could make out the words of a baptismal pedagogy.

“A revolution is going on in the world today that is cutting across lines of class, color and nationality. It is the revolution of those all over the world who are in on the secret of gifts,” Elizabeth O’Connor wrote in “Eighth Day of Creation: Gifts and Creativity.”

The “sound of the genuine,” trust what you hear. No matter what happens, don’t change your tune. 

Just keep right on humming. The words you will make flesh are not far behind.

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