When I was a Christian only a few months I picked up an old Bible in the church I had started going to. Out of it fell a bookmark which if I had kept it, would have been placed alongside other important sacramental objects on my desk, or inside books, or in the top drawer of my desk. I have a very select collection of these souvenirs picked up on my own journey. They are triggers of memory, aides memoires for past blessings, small objects of wonder which when handled kindle gratitude and encourage quiet thoughtfulness. About God, love, friendship, the beauty and gift of life.
Of course I didn't keep that bookmark, one of those vulgar gaudy plastic God reminders- I put it back into the Bible, but not before making sure I remembered the Bible verses written on it.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I wrote those from memory - I still have a head full of verses shaped by the rhythms and cadences of that old translation - I know them off by heart, which is not a bad way of knowing them.
This morning I was reading Maya Angelou's delightful collection of essays and vignettes, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, and I came across a paragraph that took me back to that epiphanic moment at the back of the church, holding a bookmark that told me something I too often forget.
"I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, since one person, any person with God, constitutes the majority.
That knowledge humbles me, and makes my teeth rock loosely in their gums. And it also liberates me. I am a big bird winging over high mountains, down into serene valleys. I am ripples of waves on silver seas. I'm a spring leaf trembling in anticipation."
Sometimes God's Word comes in one word, and for me it was the word "persuaded".
"For I am persuaded...."
Faith is a living persuasion not a dead certainty, and is often more about beingopen to persuasion than already being absolutely sure. And trust presupposes that if I truly believe something I will be prepared to take personal risks on evidence that persuades me. That's what Paul meant, and what Maya Angelou celebrated - they knew what they believed off by heart. It's a good place to stand, that affirmation of faith, For I am persuaded.....