“What’s going to happen to me? Will I be … what if?” Those questions have visited my mind many times throughout my lifetime. Confronted by change, I have a choice to make – to trust God to lead me into the future or allow an awful anxiety to drive me to desperation.
How well I remember the choices I had to make when confronted with the evidence that my wife of 40 years was terminally ill. There were parts of me that wanted to run and hide. And God, the Spirit, was present, inviting to remain steady – caring for Bev in her hour of crisis and trusting Him for a whole new future. Is that easy? Silly question! Was it a once and done decision? Not at all. Faith was a quiet confidence that I settled on God, that waited, that renewed day by day, that wavered, that found strength in support of friends and family. Faith was found then, and still is, in my willingness to release control of tomorrow to the One who is eternal.
Dramatic events tend to raise our consciousness of our faith (or lack thereof) but the truth is that genuine Christianity is a life of faith that owns us from the moment of each day’s awakening. Our most basic daily decisions, if we claim to know, love, and serve Christ Jesus will be shaped by faith in what is beyond the perception of our natural eyes.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. … It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, The Message)
Faith is not just discovered on the day of a diagnosis of terminal cancer, when circumstances go wildly out of our control, or when some critical question demands an answer. Faith leads us to shape the way we work, the way we spend our money, the way we use our time, and forms our most basic identity. It boils down to this – God owns me and secures my future through Jesus Christ or I am master of my destiny. There can be no middle ground.
As we learn to trust Him with our future, our kids, our marriage, even our own sense of worth – faith grows. Jesus uses some interesting metaphors to illustrate that growth. “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches.” He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough.” (Luke 13:18-21, NLT)
Let’s not turn faith into a kind of magic wand. Let’s not allow a caricature of faith to convince us that we are in control as long as we say the right words or somehow “believe” enough. Instead, will you join me in a quiet confidence in the Father, a willingness to work with Him, to walk where He leads – be it into a spectacular miracle or to formation of the steady trust needed to endure tempestuous times of change?
The ‘Faith Chapter’ – Hebrews 11 – is of two important parts. Most of us tend only to read the first, which recounts the amazing victories won by heroes of faith. But there is a second part that teaches a faith that is much less appealing but just as necessary.
Read of the steady faith of those who did not find the miracle they desired in their lifetime. “Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless— the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (Hebrews 11:36-40, The Message)
Lord, give us a Quiet Confidence,
a willingness to trust and wait, to hold onto hope,
to live with joy in the difficult days.
May we not surrender to apathy,
Nor demand what we must have to remain faithful.
Show us Your face,
Keep us near to Your heart.
Whisper to us that You are Master, Savior, and Friend.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen