I was recalling recently the first days and weeks after my “coming to faith” in 1987, and what struck me most as I called to mind those days was how my new-found faith changed the way I see absolutely everything. Even the trees outside looked different (i.e. Psalm 96:12, really).
In fact, I recall saying to my girlfriend at the time, “One thing I do know is that I can never ever go back to seeing the world the way I used to.” She deemed me a hopeless “Jesus freak,” which then highly offended me; but now I see that’s really what it is. When it seizes you, faith threatens to overtake your whole life, break open your whole worldview into undreamed of horizons and leave nothing unexposed to the “Light of Light,” Jesus Christ.
A turning point came when one day, after reading a chapter of St. Augustine’s City of God at Harvard’s Widener Library, he walked out into a rainy spring afternoon and saw a young tree budding along the Charles River. Though he didn’t use the term at the time, something like the “argument from design,” the notion that God had personally created the world, had become a living reality for him. Happiness followed and, remarkably, conviction: “Never, since the eventful day which I have described, have I doubted the existence of an all-good and omnipotent God.”
I will conclude with the luminous words of that Jesuit master of trusting faith, Jean Pierre de Caussade:
Faith transforms the earth into a paradise.
By it our hearts are raised with the joy of our nearness to heaven.
Every moment reveals God to us.
Faith is our light in this life.
By it we know the truth without seeing it, we are put in touch with what we cannot feel, recognize what we cannot see, and view the world stripped of all its outer shell.
Faith unlocks God’s treasury.
It is the key to all the vastness of His wisdom.
The emptiness of all created things is disclosed by faith, and it is by faith that God reveals Himself …
All that is dark becomes light, and what is bitter becomes sweet.
Faith transforms ugliness into beauty, and malice into kindness.
Faith is the mother of tenderness, trust, and joy.
There is nothing faith cannot overcome;
It passes beyond all shadows and through the darkest clouds to reach the Truth, which it embraces and can never be parted from.