True faith is evidenced by the lack of worry. If I truly have faith in God, in His love, and in the perfection of His will, then my life is greatly simplified.
If I simply abide, day by day, moment by moment, in the full presence of God, then stress and worry are no longer factors.
I believe. And then act and react out of that belief.
Faith is the belief that God has got it handled. However, stress often comes from the fear that the will of God will be different than what WE want it to be. Which, while it is certainly faith, isn’t trust at all. Faith is knowing that God’s will will be done. Trust is believing that what God provides, and where he leads, will be better, fuller, and richer than whatever simple and shortsighted things we might think to hope for ourselves.
True, effective faith requires trust; and that’s what is so hard for so many. We can talk a good game about faith, but the hardest thing to truly have, sometimes, is trust.
When our “truster” has been broken so many times, by so many of the things we’ve experienced in life, the idea of true faith (and trust) in God is a scary thing indeed.
Because it means letting go of control…and that’s perhaps the scariest thing of all.
Sometimes when we come before God in a moment of crisis or confusion or uncertainty, when we lift our face to him in supplication seeking his guidance, some sort of answer or direction, instead we get something unexpected. Sometimes there are no great insights, no grand visions or prophecies, no “word from the Lord.” Sometimes, it’s just….”Shhhh. Hush now. Be still.”
How many times as a parent have you had a child rush up to you full of hurt or anger or confusion, and they climb up in your lap and pour out their thoughts or fears with such intensity, sometimes with tears in their eyes, and you realize that the first and best thing they need is simply…comfort. “Shhhhh.., “you whisper. “Hush.” You rock them a little, you wipe away some tears, you smooth their hair, and sometimes all you do is just hold them against your chest, let them cry, and you whisper softly, over and over, “Shhhh, now. It’s okay. I’ve got you. Shhhhh...”
Sometimes people need comfort more than they need answers. And sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes it’s just enough to know that there’s a place we can go, a lap we can crawl up into, a comforting hand for our forehead and gentle fingers to wipe away our tears. Sometimes it’s just enough to be loved.
God is a good one for giving us what we need, more than what we think we want. And sometimes all we really need…is to know that He is there.
“I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee, my blessed savior, I surrender aaaaalllll.”
So the song goes. But…am I really doing it? Am I really giving everything over to Him? Or, am I still holding on to a few things I plan to handle for myself?
Why do we sometimes cling sooo tightly to a favorite fear, or chose to continually re-live the same past trauma, or dwell forever on that one special mistake we made way back when? It’s like some ragged stuffed animal that’s been with us for so long that we just can’t quite seem to let it go.
“MINE!” we yell.
So, inevitably, that’s precisely where God is going to focus his attention; because it’s the very things that we hold on to the most tightly that are the most important for us to let go of.
It’s those learned responses, those conditioned reflexes, those programmed behaviors, those things where we stubbornly insist, “It’s just the way things are!” Even if they aren’t pleasant, they are comfortable, they are familiar; they are what we know. And they may even be true…for now.
But…just because that’s the way things are, doesn’t mean that’s really how they have to stay, is it? God is all about taking what is…and changing it into what can be. HOWEVER…
…we have to let go of it first.
It’s those very things that we “know” with such certainty that too often get in the way of discovering the real truth of things. It’s only when we stop trying to tell God how things are, that we become open to the possibilities of what they can be!
Problem is, that means letting go of our illusions of control, of our carefully nurtured victim-hood, or of any of 101 other things that we tend to put in place of a complete reliance on God and an unwavering trust in His sovereignty over our life. And that’s hard. Real hard. Because we really like our little teddy bear.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1st Cor. 13:11-12
If I hold on too tightly to those artifacts of the past, if I cling too tightly to that ragged old teddy bear, I can never really grow up the way I am supposed to, the way God wants me to. I stagnate, I get stuck, and I don’t grow. So, before I can move forward, I have to stop looking back. Instead of focusing on what was, I can start seeing what new things God is ready to lead me into instead!
Challenge: Lord, what are those things in my life that I haven’t let go of yet? What are things I need to put into your hands? What are the fears I most need to trust you with, and the places in which I most need to be the most open to change?
Going through my Oswald Chambers for today and he takes on the concept of “suffering” in terms of God and the Bible, referring to 1st Peter Chapt. 4 &5. Reading through all that really got me to thinking.
God repeatedly speaks of suffering as though it is a good thing!? That is not only inevitable but desirable?! Why it this?
Because if we understand that it is inevitable, we will have a different attitude about it. We will be better equipped to face it rather than surprised by it. And more importantly perhaps, we will have the awareness and foresight to look beyond our immediate circumstance and our own condition, and begin to look for the purposes of God in what we are enduring. Why has he led me here? What purposes are being served?
This trial, this suffering may not even be about me. I may have been placed here to minister to someone else, or accomplish a mission, purpose or goal far beyond my own narrow vision. And if I am only looking at myself, focused so completely on the depths of my own personal inconvenience, I may miss that opportunity entirely!
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)
Challenge: Am I so focused on my own condition that I may be missing the work God is doing around and through me? Lord, help me to daily remember that even in times of sorrow, suffering or persecution, you are there. Help me be open to your will, no matter the circumstance.
How often do we, as Christians, truly live as if we are victorious? Or do we too often still live in defeat? As though our decision to follow Christ were merely an event experienced along the way, something of little consequence, rather than a fundamental alternation of the very fabric of who and what we are? To the point that it even alters the way we interact with universe itself?
We. Are. Changed. But do we liveas ones who have been been changed, and are being changed?
Do we live as though we share in the victory of Christ over sin and death? As though we are an intimate part of that victory? Are we dancing and singing and clanging our symbols as we follow along behind our Victorious One? Or do we live more as mere observers, those who witnessed the action and cheered, but now see ourselves as separate, standing quietly off to the side as they march by? Maybe as not worthy? Maybe not like those “real” Christians over there?
Are we part of a triumphal procession…or are we content to watch and cheer from the sidelines? Are we truly transformed…or merely affected?
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:54)
Challenge:Am I daily living in the victory secured for me by Christ, and is it daily transforming my life?
Here’s a thought. It might fly in the face of a great deal of theology and conventional wisdom, but I think it tracks. So here goes.
Don’t seek the kingdom. Don’t seek the blessings. Don’t seek the gifts.
Seek the person.
Strive to know only Christ until everything else falls away. Your desire should be for Him, not for what He can give you, not for what he can do for you. But for who He is toyou.
The strange truth is that even if God never answered a single prayer, never performed a single miracle in your life, you should still be striving to know Him more fully and completely in every moment.
Not to ask, “where is God?!” when things go sideways on you, but instead, “who is God in this moment? And who am I in Him?”
It is not about rewards, or circumstances, or plans for the future. It is about merely abiding in His presence and that being more than enough.
That said, there are abundant gifts and blessings in store for those who give their life to Him, for those who abide in Him; but they are trinkets compared to the treasure of the simple, consuming love we can and will share. The pearl of great price.
Our hope is not in the promise of blessings in this life, but being more fully in His presence in the next. And so our abiding is manifest in our prayer, and in our seeking to know the person of God…not just clamoring for His stuff!
Challenge: Today, am I going to hunger for more of God’s love, for more knowledge of him? Or will I let myself become too focused on what I do or don’t have, what did or didn’t happen to me? Lord, help me seek you and find you in every situation today!