Blind Faith?

Pullens Lane

During my bike ride home from the city centre in the late afternoon, the sun was setting through the autumn-scented trees. But this day was different. It was nearly five o’clock, and my route through the forest had become entirely dark. My bicycle’s lights flashed dimly, just bright enough to let other travelers know I was there. But the faint flicker was not enough to light my way.

I was too close to home to turn back and find another way back, but I could not see my way forward. So I kept biking in a calm panic.

As I approached a speed bump I pressed the brakes and rode over the interruption slowly. Wait a minute. I knew that speed bump was there. I knew it was coming and I could tell where the road curved as I approached it. I knew, most of all, the way home. By feeling the road under my tires, I knew where I was and where I was going. Finally, I emerged from the sightless street to a street glowing garish orange-black under streetlights. I grinned as I coasted down the hill and braked at the gate. I’d made it home, after a blind ride.

Søren Kierkegaard can be credited with the idea of the “leap of faith.” Often, this term is synonymous with “blind faith,” which is proceeding based on non-rational optimism.[1] And that’s what my bike ride felt like at first. I was leaping into the darkness on the chance that a car wouldn’t run me over and that I would make it home safely. I had a rape whistle in my pocket; I’d be fine, I thought.

But as I proceeded riding, I learned two things: I knew where I was going, and I knew how to get there. But I couldn’t see my way there. My faith wasn’t founded on an irrational belief that I’d eventually get home after a long, obedient bike ride in the same direction. I had to turn and twist my way through the back roads based on my mental map.

This is faith: knowing where to go and how to get there.

Yet, getting there isn’t easy at all. Sometimes, the only thing to do is stop traveling and understand the road. Everything is dark, but there are ways to find the path without sight. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”[2] The things are there. Not seeing them is not denying their existence, but forces interaction without sight.

[1] Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, in The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume I: A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1982),16

[2] Hebrews 11:1 NASB

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