That Beautiful Moment When Your Faith Comes To Life
We recently visited the island country of Malta which is south of Italy and just north of Tunisia. Malta is a beautiful country, with a rich history.Wherever we went, we encountered one of the over 300 churches that were dotted throughout the island, many of them large, ornate buildings.
One of those churches, which I’d visited on a previous trip to Malta is Shipwreck Cathedral—a church built on the traditional site where (as the book of Act relates) the Apostle Paul washed ashore with the passengers and crew of a ship, which crashed into rocks just off Malta’s coast.
Paul told everyone on board the ship to not be afraid, that God would not allow anyone to lose their life in the wreck, and his prediction came true, of course. The Maltese people welcomed the survivors and gave them food and supplies.
As Paul was gathering wood for a fire, a poisonous snake bit him on the hand and refused to let go. He had to shake the snake off into the fire. Everyone expected Paul to be dead by morning because the snake (an asp) was one of the most deadly in the region. But Paul didn’t die because of the snake bite, which caused no end of consternation and wonder among the people who saw the whole thing.
The thing about visiting a place where something in the Bible happened is that it makes it more real. When I stand in a church that was founded nearly 1800 years ago on what was believed to be the spot where Paul shook a poisonous snake off of his hand, I get this funny feeling… Although I believe these stories in the book of Acts happened, being in that spot leads me to say to myself, “This was real. It was actually real.”
Because there really was an Apostle Paul. And he really believed everything he preached, taught and wrote down. And guess what? Miraculous stuff actually happened to Paul, and not that much longer after they happened, people were building churches on the spot where they happened, and if you’re fortunate (like I was) you might actually get to stand in that spot and feel more connected to your faith.
I admit that I am frail, and sometimes I need to see, I need to experience, I need some proof that I can feel deep down in my bones that God is real, Jesus is alive, the Bible is true and all of this Christian stuff means something.
But the thing that’s even more amazing is that there are scores and scores of people who believe and dedicate their lives to following Jesus with less proof and hardly any feelings like the one I’ve described.
Jesus responded to a statement of faith by Thomas, one of his disciples who saw Jesus risen from the dead by saying, “Blessed are you that you have seen and believed.” And then Jesus asked, “How much more blessed will those be who have not seen and still believe?”
May you discover new ways to find your faith renewed that are based on trust and obedience. May you find your doubts and fears stilled inside of your heart as you simply choose to experience God all around you. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.