Faith 2.0

  • Steve Hatter
Person holding their baby's feet

I wrote a blog entitled “Faith” two and a half years ago about becoming a grandpa for the first time. Now, because I have—as of Tuesday, 9 Aug 22, at 11:10 PM—become a grandpa for a second time, I’m moved to write again about how I felt back then, what God has done in the intervening time, and how I feel about bringing children into our fallen world today.

Many of you know my now two-year-old grandson, Christopher. He is an absolutely amazing blessing to his parents and to his extended family, and none of us would ever even remotely question the utter rightness of God giving him to all of us! He came at exactly the right time and has been nothing short of non-stop joy and a blessed expression of the goodness of God!

Yet, As I look back on the time when he was carried in his mama’s womb, it was the Spring of 2020—unquestionably a time of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty. Here is what I was feeling then and wrote about bringing Christopher into 2020 America:

My son is having a son. Our oldest of five children is anticipating becoming a first-time dad in June when his beloved comes due. Soon to be mom and dad are impressively ready and excited for their coming boy, even as the anticipation brings with it a range of emotions.

As it happens in life, the winds of change are blowing, and strong feelings seem to ride the gusts, coming upon us when least expected. The more intense emotions give warning only rarely, but they do demand immediate thought and discernment—a Christian heart response—when they arise. Feelings challenge us.

I am experiencing strong emotions for many reasons these days, but acutely as a first-time grandpa-to-be. I must admit some of my feelings about adding to our family are dispiriting, even if most are positive and optimistic. The change winds seem gales under the pandemic and tempt me with everything from trepidation to prideful elation. There is much to think on, or maybe said better, there is much to either choose to think on, or choose not to think on.

In my lower moments, I worry. I wonder whether it’s a good idea to bring a child into such a crazy world. I’m also tempted to ruminate about the dreaded virus and the safety of vulnerable loved ones. I think perhaps more than I should about keeping my dear daughter-in-law and her baby boy safe and away from COVID’s grip. As a Christian, I know that I must fight such thinking if it is not based on God’s truth or in a manner that does not honor Him. Feelings cannot drive us. We must rely on truth to drive us, even if our emotions run counter.

Jesus was crystal clear about the importance of rational thinking that is rooted in truth, especially when His followers were tempted to worry. Jesus labeled worry a distraction, a waste of time and energy, pulling His called from their appointed ministry. As recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, our Lord taught in commanding language:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25

The Apostle Paul, of course, came equally strong on the topic of worry years later with similar commanding language in his letter to the fledgling church at Philippi:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7

What I’ve been thinking a lot about is the promise of peace—supernatural peace—that results from putting off anxiety and putting on prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. Bluntly, I sure want the peace Paul is describing, but I do not always feel that peace. Why?

As I’ve thought hard in search of the answer, it has dawned on me that the key to both obeying Jesus is to live more in the here and now, and to follow Paul’s orders to put off anxiety and put on right behavior, is really quite obvious. It is faith.

I can try with all my might to “not be anxious,” but I also know that within my own resources, I have no idea how to do this. I can pursue prayer and thanksgiving with military precision and discipline, but if I am doing these things absent genuine belief in their efficacy, I will not find peace.

Peace is the reward of faith, not the result of effort, which is why the writer of Hebrews spent an entire chapter—chapter eleven—pounding on the life-giving importance of faith!

Hebrews 11:6 says this: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

In the Book of Hebrews, there is a “faith hall of fame” of sorts found in chapter eleven. King David gets only a brief mention in this hall of fame narration in comparison to many of the others listed, but we know God used him mightily to advance the salvation plan for all of us. We know that David was both saint and sinner. He was a man after God’s own heart, while also, at times, a man of waning faith under pressure. He wrote many of the Psalms that give perspective and comfort today. But David’s boyhood faith inspires me most as I write today, recalling the story of the slaying of Goliath. First Samuel 17 gives a full narration of the events all the world now knows of the humble shepherd boy taking down the terrifying giant with a single slung stone. Listen to David’s heart of faith as He spoke to Saul when asked to face Goliath:

“And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:32

And a short time later as David faced the giant in the field we read:

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” 1 Samuel 17:45–46

Unbelievers argue this historical event was mere fable and they mock David’s faith as foolish. Christians must see faith like his as discerning faith rooted in knowing and trusting God. It is not foolish faith because its object is the true, living God. And David’s God is our God as New Covenant believers.

As if the perfect balm for my 21st-century heart as I ponder my coming grandson, this same David wrote the following about God’s sovereign purposes and methods for creating life in the womb:

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13–16

Each new life God is knitting together is an eternal being, made in His image. David’s story and the psalms he wrote help me have faith my grandson is being knitted together with the greatest of care, by the most caring One of all. We need not worry about His motives or timing or provision.

Have faith! We will all get through the present circumstance better for it if we keep the faith.

So, that was me thinking and writing in the Spring of 2020. You might ask at this point; did I follow my own advice to obey Jesus and Paul over the last two and a half years and be anxious for nothing? Honest answer? Mostly yes, but sometimes no. I did succumb to doubts and fears at times—never quite enough to make significantly bad choices, but enough to be emotionally hamstrung from time to time.

Yet, despite my unfaithfulness, God has proved utterly faithful in every way since I wrote the above! His faithfulness IS FACT! That is my testimony, and that is awesome!

And now, as of this past week, I have a brand new grandson named Russ (Russell Quillion Watters). And yes, my daughter Caitlin and her husband, Andy, chose Russell in large part to honor my dear friend Russ Edwards who has been a profound influence on me (and countless others) over the past two years as he battled his cancer.

God, of course, knew His plans for Russ Edwards, and for me, before the foundations of the world as Ephesians 1:3-6 reminds:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

With my little Russ’s arrival, I am doubling down on faith—faith 2.0 you might say. Even as our nation seems to be crumbling around us with unprecedented negative headlines, God is 100% in control, and He is GOOD! My deepest prayer is for Christopher and little Russ to know HIM.