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With all the hysteria, better check the ice under your feet

Almost overnight we went from things rolling along as usual to a sudden panic and hysteria.

On one hand, maybe it’s a reminder that we really can do without sports and concerts and whatever it is that we like to do in big crowds. Maybe that will change us just a little in the long run.

But on another hand, it seems to tell us that we need to take a good, long, hard look to make sure the ice we’re standing on is plenty solid. You understand, I’m sure.

I often pack a little book called The Case For Faith, by Lee Stroebel, when I set off on my travels. I have long been intrigued by the idea of “faith” and how fragile it sometimes can be. I am sure you have found your faith running on empty a time or two yourself.

In one section toward the end of the book, Stroebel interviews an elderly Canadian teacher, writer, and scholar named Lynn Anderson. This interview is one of Stroebel’s most important because Mr. Anderson teaches him that doubt is not our biggest threat. The biggest threat, as he’ll explain momentarily, will surprise you. Doubt, though, clearly is one of the dark side-roads our faith turns down occasionally. And then sometimes we find ourselves having to stop and ask directions after we’ve veered off onto the rough and crooked highway of Disbelief. Mr. Anderson had traveled down both of those roads plenty in his own life. But in the process, he had learned something: To combat doubt, he says, we need to establish a clear object for our faith. What, exactly, is our faith based on? Is it founded on something very solid? 

With the hysteria around us, today is a pretty good time to look a little deeper into our faith and make sure it is based on something very solid.

“There are two kinds of ice,” Mr. Anderson explains, referring back to his Canadian roots. “There’s thick and thin. You can have very little faith in thick ice and it will hold you up just fine, and you can have enormous faith in thin ice and you can drown. It’s not the amount of faith you can muster that matters up front. It may be tiny, like a mustard seed. But your faith must be invested in something solid.”

Isn’t it interesting that faith’s biggest challenge isn’t “doubt” at all. The bigger problem, surprisingly, is that we may have too much faith. 

We have a great deal of faith, but that faith may be based on the wrong things. We can base it on human reasoning, current trends, eloquent sermons, long-held prejudices, or even on the hope that we won’t face some kind of life-changing epidemic. Walking by faith in any of these things is walking on awfully thin ice.

And thin ice will break, no matter how much you believe in it.