I remarked to a friend, “I wonder what I did to God?” It was supposed to be a joke, but in speaking the words, a little too much of my authentic emotions crept into the words and they were not funny at all. My anger at the disappointments I have known were too obvious for laughter at that moment. My head tells me that I should be thankful, that I must let go of my demands about life! I know that in acceptance, not resignation, there is peace and joy. Sometimes that I just refuse to go there. Yet, God, the Holy Spirit patiently deals with me and leads me to a place where I will surrender myself. Will Jesus or Self be Lord? It is a universal question that we answer – not just with words – everyday.
In this new week, here on a Monday morning, when the songs of church are past echoes, when there are choices to be made, will our practice match our profession? Will we translate the creeds of belief into actions born of faith? Yes, faith is critical. Can we deny that doing what we want to do right now will not return an immediate reward? Hebrews 11, the ‘faith’ chapter includes a summary of the life of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:24-27, NIV)
He refused short-term pleasure because he could see, with eyes of faith, the promises of God! Our prayer must not simply be to be kept from sin, but for a vision to see His face! Walking God’s path is not all misery. Let’s not believe that lie. There is joy in the journey. But true faithfulness hangs onto the eternal, primarily shaped around things as yet unseen, on rewards anticipated only by promises!
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see … So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. … It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:1, 6, 8-10, NLT)
Here’s the paradox. We do not will ourselves to believe. We cannot create faith simply by commanding ourselves – “Believe!” Faith is the gift of God, given to us at the point of our desperation. Like that young father who saw his tormented son and was nearly overwhelmed by the impossibility of his condition, we cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) There is no need to pretend to be other than we are, when we rush into the Father’s Presence. We take our conflicted self and lay it before Him, confessing what we want, who we are, the terrible pull of our temptation. And, there we receive the gift of faith to give ourselves away. Only then can we find the joy that is possible when Self dies.
Yesterday, my ‘joke’ revealed that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was allowing myself to believe a lie about my Abba. Toxic thoughts that formed around the idea that “God is mean. He takes away happiness.He crushes the life out of His people,” had settled in. As I lay down to rest in the darkness last night, I confessed those faithless thoughts to Him, with earnest entreaties that truth would transform me -from the inside out.
It would a nice ‘wrap’ to the story to write that a flash of revelation came, that all the sorrow was instantly erased. But, the truth is that the Spirit did come, but more like a Friend to remind me to push on, to go steady while I wait for the fullness. And that is enough for this day.
Together, Christian friend, we wait for the rise of the Spirit, for the joy will come. It most likely will be a joy that we cannot even conceive at the moment of the testing. Here is the word from the Word. May the Lord use it to plant a new seed in our minds and hearts from which strong faith grows. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3, NIV) “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9, NIV) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13, NIV) “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17, NIV)
Eye Of The Storm
When the solid ground is falling out
From underneath my feet
Between the black skies and my red eyes
I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been sold out
By my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me
In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
In the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
(In the eye of the storm)
When my hopes and dreams are far from me
And I’m runnin’ out of faith
I see the future I picture
Slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache
Are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name
Oh in the eye of,
Lord, in the eye of the storm
I know You’re watchin’ me yeah
Bryan Fowler | Ryan Dale Stevenson © Songs Of Emack (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055