From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

For Those Who Fear Their Faith Is Not Enough

In his book Why Johnny Can’t Preach, T. David Gordon recounts an incident in the life of renowned 19th century theologian Robert Lewis Dabney. In his old age, Dabney became blind and weak, very aware that his death was near. He wrote to a friend, Clement Vaughn, wondering whether he would have faith strong enough to face his impending death. Vaughn wrote back to Dabney and asked what a traveler would do if he came to a chasm over which a bridge was spanned:

“What does he do to breed confidence in the bridge? He looks at the bridge; he gets down and examines it. He don’t [sic] stand at the bridge-head and turn his thoughts curiously in on his own mind to see if he has confidence in the bridge. If his examination of the bridge gives him a certain amount of confidence, and yet he wants more, how does he make his faith grow? Why, in the same way; he still continues to examine the bridge. Now, my dear old man, let your faith take care of itself for awhile, and you just think of what you are allowed to trust in. Think of the Master’s power, think of his love; think how he is interested in the soul that searches for him, and will not be comforted until he finds him. Think of what he has done, his work. That blood of his is mightier than all the sins of all the sinners that ever lived. Don’t you think it will master yours?….May God give you grace, not to lay too much stress on your faith, but to grasp the great ground of confidence, Christ, and all his work and all his personal fitness to be a sinner’s refuge. Faith is only an eye to see him. I have been praying that God would quiet your pains as you advance, and enable you to see the gladness of the gospel at every step. Good bye. God be with you as he will. Think of the Bridge!”

It’s not a bad thing to examine our faith to keep us from deluding ourselves about our belief. But in this self-absorbed, individualistic age it’s so easy focus on our selves rather than on our God. When there’s doubt, when there’s fear or anxiety that my faith is not strong enough, good enough, genuine enough – it’s an extraordinary release to turn away from my self and “flee to Christ”, to focus on him, to recount his works and the richness of his person. And so I encourage you, when fear or doubt assails you – Think of the Bridge!


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