Fake It 'Til You Make It?
I really wish I could take credit for this story, but it's not original:
Harry, who was a football star at his high school before he graduated, was looking for a job, any job, and hit on the idea that he might be able to work in the zoo, feeding the animals. When he applied, the zoo administrator said, "We don't have any openings for that currently, but we do have an unusual need.Our gorilla, who was a big attraction here, died recently and we will not be getting a replacement for a few months. You're a pretty big guy - if we got you a gorilla costume, could you go into the cage and act like a gorilla until we can get his replacement? We'll pay you double what the position you wanted pays."
Well, Harry thought that was an easy way to make some good money, so he agreed. He was given his gorilla suit, got into the cage, and started acting like a gorilla. He was really good at it and a great crowd pleaser. One day he jumped up onto the tire swing in the cage and started swinging, slowly at first, then faster and higher, until he lost his grip and fell next door into the lion cage.
Recovering himself, he noticed with terror the lion, who quickly looked in Harry's direction and with menace and roaring began to approach, terrorizing Harry. He needed to scream for help but knew that that would blow his cover. But the lion snarled and bared his teeth and Harry could bear it no longer, and quietly began to call for help. Suddenly a voice came from the lion, saying, "Shut up, you idiot! You wanna get us both fired?"
What do you do when you are dealing with life's struggles and think that your prayers are only bouncing off the ceiling, that your faith has failed? The Bible gives us insight about those dry spells when we don't feel like praying or worshiping or think our faith has left us. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for ... These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." Hebrews 11:1-2, 39-40 (NIV)
There's a saying in 12 Step programs: "Fake it 'til you make it." It means pushing forward in the Truth even though you don't feel it, when you are trying your best and you don't seem to be getting anywhere. It means pushing forward based on what you know and what you have committed yourself to even though your feelings are dried up like yesterday's burnt toast. When John Wesley was having his crisis of faith, he asked his friend Peter Böhler “How can you preach to others if you don’t have faith yourself?,” Böhler told him, "Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”
Faith is not feeling good, though good feelings frequently accompany faith. Faith is going on what you know, pushing forward and doing the will of God even though things seem useless, pointless, hopeless. In the scripture quoted above from Hebrews 11, it says that faith is not based on what we see but what we hope for but do not see in realtime. It informs us that the ancients were commended for their faith even thought they hadn't seen what faith told them was true.
What about if you don't think you have enough faith? In a verse we normally associate with faith to come to Christ in conversion. it says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV). The very faith we need to believe is a gift of God. When we ask Him, we have actually taken the first step of the faith we need.
So probably the quote should be "Faith it 'til you make it." John Wesley took his first steps toward saving faith on the advice of Peter Böhler by committing to preach as if he did believe, because he knew that would be the first step of the faith he so desperately longed for. Sometimes we just have to push on until we're through, because there is no way around life's trials. On the way we not only develop faith but strengthen it. It's a hard lesson to learn and seems to defy common sense, but a lot of good and important things seem like they defy common sense.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." I'd like to unpack that a bit: You've fallen down stairs you didn't see, and you know you want to get up the stairs. Faith is the handrail: You put your foot on that first step, hold the rail, and climb until you know you're where you should be.
Faith it 'til you make it. And then you'll make it because you faith it.
Blessings from here to eternity, Pastor Drew