An absence of faith is like a bird without wings

“It can’t be done. It’s physically impossible. One would fall unconscious before it could be done.” These were some of the comments of renowned athletes, coaches, psychologists, and physicians, who were discussing the possibility of running a mile under four minutes. They believed it was impossible. And as long as they held that belief, it was. Then along came Roger Bannister, a British medical student who lived by faith instead of belief. What’s the difference? Belief is what others tell you; faith is what your inner voice tells you.

Unencumbered by negative beliefs and brimming with faith in himself, Roger Bannister shocked the sports world on May 6, 1954 by running the mile in 3:59.4. Suddenly, “the impossible” proved possible, and the shattering of the old belief was heard around the world. Bannister’s feat was all the more amazing when you consider the following facts. 1) As a busy medical student, the only time he had to practice was during his lunch hour. He practiced every day for 45 minutes and spent 15 minutes for lunch. 2) Although the track where he broke the record was supposed to be level, it had a slight upward slope, making the race even more grueling. 3) The race took place on a windy day.

Bannister’s victory destroyed the artificial barrier that prevented others from running the mile under four minutes. After everyone realized it was now possible, it only took 46 days before the record was broken again by Australian athlete John Landy. Today, of course, “the impossible” has become a common occurrence. In fact, New Zealander, John Walker, has already smashed the four minute barrier 100 times! And Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj has shaved the time to 3:43:13!

“He must be mad! Imagine! Mr. Edison is trying to create light in his laboratory despite two fundamental laws of physics which make it impossible. First, there can be no light without combustion. Second, there can be no combustion in a vacuum.” The experts at the time may have known about physics, but they didn’t understand the human spirit. The incandescent lamp was already burning brightly in the mind and heart of Edison. Because of his faith, he persisted. Until, one day, his faith unlocked the secret and achieved “the impossible.”

The message is clear. Faith is like a key that unlocks our potential. It knows no doubt; hears no discouragement, and sees no insurmountable barriers. It is resolute. With faith everything is possible. That’s why Christ said, “According to your faith; be it done unto you.” (Matthew 9:29) Why aren’t there more Roger Bannisters in the world? Is it due to a lack of faith? No, says Eric Butterworth, “There is no such thing as a lack of faith. We all have plenty of faith, it’s just that we have faith in the wrong things. We have faith in what can’t be done rather than what can be done. We have faith in lack rather than abundance but there is no lack of faith. Faith is a law.”

Faith is the realization that we can accomplish whatever we set out to do, as long as we work at it. For as Joe Namath said, “First, I prepare. Then I have faith.” People of faith realize the universe is here to support us, so they surrender to their dreams and leap into the unfamiliar without fear. American Physicist, Edward Teller explains, “When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”

When Henry Ford was asked if he ever worried, he answered, “No, I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?” Faith in life, such as Mr. Ford’s, helps us to eliminate anxiety and reach our potential. No wonder someone wrote, “He who loses money, loses much. He who loses a friend loses more. But he who loses faith loses all.”

Every great endeavor flows from faith. It is only after we place our trust in our dream that we can begin to materialize it. Faith is not fanciful; it is logical, for it is based on understanding the laws of life. Ralph Waldo Emerson clarifies, “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Elton Trueblood also makes a good point, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” Perhaps our faith cannot move mountains. But what’s to stop us from climbing them? Let’s cling to our faith, for it is the dawn of a new tomorrow.