Should I have faith in myself or God?

Last night I got a text from Cam, inviting me to the office early tomorrow morning at 7:30a for devotionals — a weekly ritual the guys practice every Friday. He didn’t have to, but he did mention that Taylor would be providing breakfast, so at the chance there’d be bacon, I accepted. In all seriousness, I had no idea what “devotionals” meant, so I apologized in advance in my reply if I seemed out of my element. Flattered that he and the guys thought enough to include me despite knowing that I struggle with religion, it was important that I go with an open mind. Worst case scenario: I’d learn something new, or heaven forbid — discover some comfort and peace.

I think my wife, Katherine, was equal parts surprised and intrigued that I told her I’d be getting up earlier this morning to participate. Above all, I know she always wants what’s best for me, and knows I’m always searching to refine that path.

I sat quietly at our conference room table, nervously eating two bacon, egg, and potato breakfast tacos. This was after I sat down with my notepad and a pen, thinking I might need to take notes. After I realized that I was the only one who brought anything other than themselves to devotionals, I subtly took both items back to my desk, and returned to finish my tacos. I wondered if that was what devotionals meant: small talk over tacos for breakfast.

Once the six of us finished eating, Taylor turned his monitor toward us, and we watched a six-minute segment of a sermon from some likable Scottish lad, who seemed well-followed on YouTube. The message, as best as I could gather, explained that God has gifted all of us with resources that we can use to help guide ourselves from Point A to B. Moreso, God’s vision for us will always be bigger than the one we have for ourselves.

I asked the group then, “Is faith the gap between where I’m able to take myself ‘on my own’ with the resources I have [read: those that God has apparently equipped me with], and where I might end up based on the larger vision God has for me?”

I also asked if it’s possible to have faith without being (a) faithful (person), and whether I should feel guilty of historically putting all my faith in myself rather than any in God. I wasn’t being cynical or confrontational, but rather inquisitive because I had to admit to the rest of the group that I was totally out of my wheelhouse. Sadly, a decade ago — even 3 years ago — my questions would have been tinged with eye-rolls.

Aaron shared a story of once putting his faith into different buckets (e.g. money, flashy things, jobs with titles but without purpose, etc.) as well as in himself. He told me he was too focused climbing one branch that he didn’t see the rest of the tree. And, ultimately, all of his efforts focused on those trophies eventually exhausted, the branch broke, and he fell to his rock bottom. It was at that moment when he was awoken by his personal “spiritual 2x4.”

I contemplated for a moment, and admitted that I have had many bouts throughout my life when I’ve exhausted my own faith in myself — the same faith that I’ve always used to defy ever needing to entertain faith in God. So many times, I’ve run out of my own resources, and against all better judgment would continue to redline myself from running on an empty tank.

Originally written 1.20.17