Mining and Faith

As promised, here is the post to explain more about how mining relates to our faith. But first, I have a confession. The truth is, I have been wrestling for years with calling my blog or myself a “Faith Miner’s Daughter”. The reason might be obvious to many of you. Most have heard of a certain female country music icon (that I will avoid naming for fear of being associated with her here).

I was not a writer before I started walking with God. I mean, I was a writer, but a journaling, poetry, for-my-eyes-only type of a writer. Not a writer-writer, you know what I’m saying? I only went to one writer’s workshop years ago to try to figure out more about this writing thing. The whole experience threw me into a tailspin of insecurity and confusion that I’ve been trying to dig out of ever since.  My take away was to “avoid cliché”. I’m not sure if using a metaphor like this constitutes a cliché, but this has been the terror of my heart. Especially when the comparison is, on some kind of subliminal level, to a bouffant-haired, country-twanging singer from the back hills of Kentucky. I can assure you that I was not born in a “cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler”.  My life bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to hers, although, I did have a grandmother from the hills of Georgia who could pass for a novice impressionist. I only met my father’s mother twice in my entire life, but I do have to admit her tobacco-spitting-into-a-can made quite the impression upon me (not joking on this). Like most people, my life had its hardships. Poverty comes in many forms.

God has humbly silenced all of my arguments against it, my proposals for “better” titles, and my stall tactics. He has graciously redirected me again and again. Finally, off the dime, here I am. Cliché or no cliché, I am what I am by God – literally. I say with the Apostle Paul, “If I am a fool, it is for Christ”. It is with a certain amount of pride that I do rise to this occasion, albeit with a hidden public service announcement to parents everywhere: limit television consumption, people. This is what it looks like grown up! Seriously, the name reflects the mixed bag that I am. I am a work-in-progress in God’s hands.

So, now that I have all of that off my chest, let me get back to faith and mining.  There really are some awesome comparisons between the trade of coal mining and how God works in us by faith. I see our faith like coal in our Father’s hands. Faith has to be worked to be made useful.

What is coal?  It’s a fossil fuel used to produce energy and a resource that is used in many ways. North American Indians used coal long ago to bake the pottery they made from clay. Like this, “we are but clay in the potter’s hands”. (Isaiah 64:8).

Coal has been used to power steamships, railroad engines, to make iron and steel, and today, its major use is for electricity production.  Think about this, Jesus empowers us to spread the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).  It is our great commission to spread His Word, to be the “electricity” that runs throughout the world.  Ephesians 6:10, 14 tells us to take a stand and stand firm in the Lord’s mighty power; to be the “iron and steel” in the battle for His kingdom.

I found some interesting things when I looked at a day in the life of a coal miner.  There are different types of mining. In surface mining, the first step is to remove and store the soil and rock covering the coal. They go through a process of several steps aimed to “restore the biological balance of the area and prevent erosion”.  Soil and rock is the sin covering us – our attitudes, thinking, behaviors that have built up over the years of living apart from God. We were originally created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), but sin has twisted and marred His image in us. When we are born again of the Spirit (Jn. 3:5), we become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The “old is gone” and “the new is come” is the life-long process we go through as we walk with the Lord by faith. Our Father mines us: heart, soul, mind, and strength. He restores our biological balance. Faith protects us from the erosion of sin.

There is another type of coal mining called underground mining.  This is reserved for situations when the coal is buried several hundred feet below the surface.  The workers must use all kinds of heavy machinery to dig and blast their way to the coal.  Isn’t that the truth with all of us?  Consider how deep and far removed we can sometimes become from Christ in our journey of faith. The mountain of things that prevent us from acting in faith and following the biological prompting and purpose we were designed for.   That’s when God sometimes says, “Ok, bring in the explosives, there’s faith in there somewhere”.  Isn’t it amazing that He loves us so much? Too much to allow us to stay buried underneath our heaps of rubble! 

Did you know that coal is made from carbon?  Carbon is also the primary component that forms natural diamonds; the atoms are just arranged differently, which makes the bonds very strong.  The bonds are formed when carbon is at very high temperatures and under very high pressures, deep down in the earth. Likewise, our faith is formed deep down within us.  Consider as our faith grows, it shines like a diamond, projecting all glory and honor to our Heavenly Father and Creator!  Faith is about “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  I am certain that God designed me, and each one of us to be “a diamond” for His Glory.

Last week, I downloaded some new books onto my Kindle. I get curious about writers I see quoted in other places.  I then proceed to download everything I can find by that author. This, in and of itself, is an issue I am working on. I never have time to read it all. I do have to say the “free sample” feature on the Kindle is awesome, so I am not going broke in the process of feeding my curiosity. This particular writer, Francois Fenelon, I came across in my Bible study notes; which in turn tripped my memory from a quote I read about him in an A.W. Tozer book. Fenelon was a 17th century Roman Catholic archbishop and a theologian. Tozer said Fenelon’s book, “Christian Perfection” was the most influential work he had ever read on living “The Crucified Life”, as Tozer calls it.

I started reading Fenelon’s, “Spiritual Progress” which I believe is an earlier title of the same or similar writings. He is totally fascinating and eloquent, which may show up in future posts. But for today, on the topic of mining our faith, I leave you with this quote from his section entitled, “Of the Necessity of Knowing and Loving God”:   

“Thou, then, (it is my delight to believe it!) art incessantly working within me; there Thou laborest invisibly like a miner in the bowels of the earth. Thou does everything and yet the world beholds Thee not; attributes nothing to Thee, and even I myself wandered everywhere vainly searching for Thee outside of myself…Thou art nearer to us than we are to ourselves”.

This gem of truth is the crux of mining and faith: our Father is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and He is at work.