Pastor’s Page

A word from Pastor Marla

Living by Faith

Thirty-eight years ago, I started on a new adventure. I entered United Theological Seminary after changing careers midstream. There, I was bombarded by theological and biblical facts, theories and concepts that I didn’t even know existed, yet alone with which I was familiar. Being exposed to so many new and varied ways of thinking and understanding was thought-provoking, to say the least, and more than a little unsettling. I wanted so much to have a clear understanding of the tenets of Christianity so that I might live them out and share them with those to whom I would be called to serve.

At the same time, in the fall of 1983, I began serving as a chaplain intern at the then St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton. It was a wonderful opportunity for learning and for ministry. At times, I know that I was ministered to more than I gave ministry to others.

I remember one such time in particular. I visited a newly admitted 70 year old Black man. As we chatted, he told me that he lived near the hospital. In fact, he lived across the street just west of the hospital. He had lived in this same house for 30 years. Now, he lived there alone as a widower in this ‘big, old house with drafty windows and high heating bills.’ He said he would like to live in a smaller place but he was convinced he could never sell the house for it was in a decaying neighborhood as well as the house being old and run-down. He said with a chuckle that he hoped St. Elizabeth would need a bigger parking lot someday and would want to buy his property!

He stopped talking briefly, looked up, smiled and said, “Yes sir, things get pretty tough at times, and I’m not sure how I’ll make it. But then I look out the window when the snow is up to here (he touches his hip) and I see the birds flying around. I think to myself, somehow they find enough food to stay alive. If God can take care of them, I know God will take care of me. You see, God doesn’t ask us to know; God asks us to believe!”

I didn’t go home and throw away my theology books but I did realize that this humble, unassuming, wise man had summed up in one sentence what volumes of theological writings have sought to convey in thousands upon thousands of words: the basis of the Christian life is faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the Faith Chapter. Within this chapter, we find a description of a lineup of the faithful people in the Bible. I know there are many others whose stories are told in the Bible who are not listed in the chapter; many people identified by their names and many who remain nameless. If this lineup were extended throughout the ages, I believe the gentleman from St. Elizabeth would be listed there. At my sister Connie’s funeral two days ago, her pastor thought her name should be listed to this lineup! I may be a little biased but I agree with him.

What difference does living by faith in God make? It makes all the difference in the world: in this world and in the world to come!

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 Christian Standard Bible

May all who come behind us find that we did, indeed, live by faith!

In Christ’s love.

October 2021