I wanted to get to know S. better knowing something of the complicated story of his life. He had once been a fervent Christian, leading a church, beloved by those in his congregation. When I met him, he was an opponent of all things Christian, as fervent in his opposition as he had been in his advocacy some 15 years prior. As we shared lunch that day, I asked him how he thought about things of God, if he ever feared that moment when he would meet the Lord. He leaned back and laughed derisively. “Come on, Jerry, it’s time you outgrew believing. I no more fear a god than I do the tooth fairy.” I felt an awful chill in my soul that day as he challenged me to ‘prove’ the existence of my God.
In the 20 or so years that have followed that conversation, in spite of many trials and tests, I continue to love and serve Jesus. Do I always understand His ways? No. Have I grown in my relationship with Him over the years, changing some ways in which I know Him? Yes. My life is shaped by my conviction that He is Who He claimed to be – the Savior and Lord.
Peter says this – “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9, NIV) Even though He is invisible to our natural eyes, even though we cannot ‘prove’ His existence, we believe! What is this ‘belief’ of which Peter writes? The word of the text is one that is about more than a ‘hope it’s true’ response to an idea. Belief, in this context, is about putting trust in a person, committing ourselves with confidence to Him and the promises He has made.
What results from leaning into faith of this kind? We find a joy that surpasses happiness. Peter calls it ‘inexpressible and glorious.’ There is an old Gospel song that uses the older translation. “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.” In genuine faith, the Christian is given a gift; a quality of life that mere words cannot describe and that has a richness that outshines the ‘light and momentary’ troubles of this world. This joy is sustained not just by a hope of eternal life in Heaven, but by an experience of salvation, here and now! We know that we are held secure in God, made whole in a broken world, saved!
In this first week of 2019, examine your life.
Do the choices you are making reflect that you are committed to Christ in full faith, or are you holding back?
Are you waffling between completely trusting Jesus and making sure to care for yourself?
Give yourself away to the Lord of Glory. Not childishly, but with a child-life trust. You will begin to know that of which Peter writes. “You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.” (1 Peter 1:8-9, The Message)
Here is a word from the Word. “I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. Hold on to the pattern of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:12-14, NLT)
Abba, my faith is tested and tried daily.
Situations arise that I cannot understand.
Reconciling some of my experience with Your promises
challenges me and I am tempted to try to take control of my life.
I pray for the Spirit’s Presence to keep me steady,
for courage to commit myself to You, even when You’re hidden.
Renew that unspeakable joy in me as I live with a committed faith in You today.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen