Historical Markers: Fearless Faith

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Hebrews 11, this beautiful chapter about faith, comes along right as we’re waiting for summer to end. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…”

Hope that school will start back up soon…

Hope that schedules will get back to normal…

Hope that structure will return…


But we’ll talk more about hope next week…

Or maybe it’s not about us parents, but more about students and teachers as they prepare to return to school. For many, we’re about to enter that last full week of summer.

Students and teachers are full of hope and faith and maybe a little fear…

What will this year be like? Where are my classrooms? Who will I hang out with?

That sounds a bit like Abraham in our reading today, I think.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called…and he set out, not knowing where he was going.”

Abraham’s faith led him out of Ur to a place he had not seen.

He didn’t know where he was going. He only knew that  God was sending him there. And he knew it was a long way from the comfort and safety of home.

Today’s historical marker is for a building that’s no longer there. Maybe you remember St. Joseph’s Hospital, near JPS. The land is now a park and belongs to JPS.

Back in the late 1800s, Fort Worth was a growing railroad town and there was a need to improve the local infirmary. So in 1885, the local Catholic bishop enlisted the Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Words. 10 nuns left San Antonio to come to Hell’s Half Acre. The set up the city’s first general hospital, eventually named St. Joseph’s.

Think about the courage of these 10 women. They left the relative comfort of their home in San Antonio to venture to this wild town along the banks of the Trinity River.

By faith, these 10 women obeyed when they were called…and they set out, not knowing where they were going.

Our marker for today…our sign of the Christian life…is Fearless Faith.

Abraham exhibited fearless faith when he trusted God and set out for where he was called to go.

The Sisters of Charity exhibited fearless faith when they trusted God and set out for where they were called to go.

And we exhibit fearless faith when we trust God and set out for wherever we’re called to go.

Maybe that’s to a new school. Or a new town. Or a new career. Or a new relationship.

Or maybe it’s to the same places we’ve been going our whole lives, just with a new perspective or in a new way.

Wherever it is, we’re all called to go somewhere. We’re all called to carry God’s love somewhere.

And we go with fearless faith.

Notice I don’t say blind faith.

This isn’t blind, unthinking faith.

Abraham didn’t meekly and quietly trust in God’s promises and live happily ever after.

He questioned and challenged God along the way. He doubted along the way. He wrestled and struggled and failed along the way.

Fearless faith doesn’t ignore the realities of the world around us.

Going to new places, or entering new experiences, is hard. It’s full of unknowns. It might feel scary or dangerous.

But we’re still called to go where God leads us.

The Sisters of Charity are wild. Maybe you’ve heard of Incarnate Word, the college in San Antonio. But what do you know about the Sisters?

They didn’t just follow God up here to Fort Worth.

In 1866 they established St. Mary’s in Galveston, the state’s first public hospital.

In 1887 they established another St. Joseph’s, the first hospital in Houston.

In 1901 they established St. Anthony’s in Amarillo, the first hospital in the high plains.

In 1909 they established St. John’s Hospital in San Angelo.

In 1911 they established St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paris, Texas.

And there are so many more, all over the state and the country.

They established and served hospitals during the Civil War, during a yellow fever epidemic, in the midst of one of the worst natural disasters in US history, during the Spanish Flu epidemic, and more. They continue to serve today.

By faith, the Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word obeyed when they were called; and they set out, not knowing where they were going.

I know it’s not easy. It isn’t supposed to be.

Fearless faith isn’t a straight line where we decide to follow God and never doubt or question or fail or want to turn back.

Fearless faith doesn’t mean we never struggle with our faith.

Fearless faith doesn’t mean we never deconstruct our faith.

Fearless faith is taking the next step, knowing God is there.

Fearless faith means trusting that God is here, with us, even when we don’t feel it.

Fearless faith is believing that God continues to be present, even when we lack the certainty of a vision, or the certainty of direction, or the certainty of anything.

Because here’s the thing…even when we doubt…even when we fail…even when we struggle with our faith, God always has faith in us.