Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Walking in Faith

I know I haven’t blogged in ages… but a sweet friend encouraged me that I should blog again if I felt led to and so here I am… :).  Taking a step of faith to share what God has been teaching me the last month.

Faith.  For a five letter word, it is quite hefty and complex to unravel.  It means so many different things for every person and has a depth to it that I will never fully understand.  Yet, at the same time it is a word that is severely watered down for a lot of us.  We exercise faith daily in really mundane things and also complicated things.  I have faith that this chair I am sitting on is going to continue to hold me up.  I have faith that this water I am drinking is going to hydrate me even though I can’t see it happening.  And I also have faith in massively significant things like the gospel and that Jesus is who He says He is. I have faith in His promises.  Faith being the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1) is quite complicated. The word faith is often vague because of its overuse and many applications, but somehow is also still really simple.  

That being said, when I think about what God has been teaching me in this season it feels silly to say faith.  On one level it seems overly simple and elementary in ways. And on the other hand, not silly at all, because how could we ever fully come to know what it means to live by faith?  However, it is obvious that that is what He has been after me about: living and walking by faith. And this is only one aspect of I said it’s a multi-faceted, complicated word.

Faith in Him, what He can do, what He has called us to, who He says He is, and also, what it means to “have faith” or “live by faith.”

Every single morning for the past month God has been calling me out on my faith.  The first occurrence was in mid-January.  I was reading and praying one morning, overly anxious about something and I open an infertility email that spoke about Mark 4, when Jesus and His disciples were caught in a great storm.  Water was coming in the boat and Jesus was sleeping. The disciples woke him up saying something like, “Dude, don’t you see we are about to die?” In three words Jesus calmed the storm, “Peace, be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm. Then he said, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” After all you have witnessed and after the many ways I have been faithful to you, you STILL don’t have faith?  I confessed my lack of faith in a particular situation and I immediately felt my heart calm.  I was reminded that God can change a heart or circumstance in little or no words, a blink.  I also felt so convicted that I had become so fearful and had forgotten His ever-present  faithfulness.  I then opened my Jesus Calling devotional and what do you know, that day’s reading was about Peter walking on water and how he began to sink when he doubted. Jesus said to him, “O’ you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Sarah Young writes, “Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance.  Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to the proportions of My design.”  Gee whiz, I was sensing a theme. Waves, faith and my doubt.  Then I get up and head to the room to get ready for the day, turn on Pandora and Hillsong’s song “Oceans” is streaming through the speakers. I am telling you…He has been after me like that about faith. And that was just one morning’s experience.  

I have had to pray every single day for God to increase my faith. And He has been so faithful to provide.  I love the story in Mark 9 when a father asks Jesus, “if He can,” heal his son from a demon. Jesus replies, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”  The father CRIED out, “I believe; help my unbelief.”  I have had to pray that so many times, “I believe, I have faith, Lord, but please increase my faith and belief where it is lacking.” It has been such a sweet time with the Lord, to audibly hear Him call me to faith, but then being able to admit my brokenness and inability to have perfect faith.  He has been so faithful to increase my trust and faith, while calling me deeper into it. How amazing is He?  He not only calls us to something, but also comes right alongside and gives us what we need.

As I have been journeying through faith, I have been having to ask what does it look like to have faith and exercise it?  I think in our culture we often wrap faith in this cute little bow and expect feelings of warm and fuzzy peace.  We think if God is asking us to take a step of faith, we will feel peace.  If we don’t feel peace, it must not be from the Lord. Or if God asks us to do something in faith that it will make sense or be clear. I had been praying that God would show me how to know when He is leading in a step of faith. Will I have peace and complete trust?  Will it always make sense? He led me to Hebrews 11.  Literally, that day I opened up to Hebrews 11 after praying the above.

>“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events yet UNSEEN, in REVERENT FEAR constructed an ark for the saving of his household.”  It does not say, in peace and complete trust he constructed an ark.  And surely, nothing about what God asked him to do made sense. I don’t even have to go into the ridiculousness of what God asked Noah to do.  But he did it anyway.

>“By faith Abraham OBEYED when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Obey means to submit, conform, and comply.  The word certainly doesn’t make you see the decision as filled with peace and assurance.  Abraham didn’t walk in faith with the stipulation that He would know where He was going or how it would turn out.  It was by faith.

>“By faith Abraham, when he was tested offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son of who it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’” I don’t imagine Abraham felt all warm and fuzzy, and at peace when offering his son as a sacrifice. He had faith in God’s promises regardless of the circumstances, although I am sure his heart wasn’t bursting with peace as he laid his son on the altar.  Nor did it make sense that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice the one through whom He promised his offspring would come.

>“By faith Moses, when he was grown refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, CHOOSING rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Does it make sense that Moses would leave the Kingship he could see for the One he couldn’t?  But it was a choice. Scripture doesn’t paint this experience as one of warm and fuzzy peace.  He chose mistreatment and mocking over the powerful position of Pharaoh’s grandson.

>“By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same were drowned.”  Setting foot into the water to cross it certainly didn’t make sense, but they stepped into the water anyway. They didn’t know if they would get to the other side, but they wouldn’t know if they didn’t take the first step. And God was faithful.  

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon,Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises,stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us,that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:32-40.

ALL in faith. A clear testament to the fact that faith doesn’t always look warm and fuzzy, and full of peace. It is certainly clear that it doesn't always make sense. And being obedient to God’s leading and steps of faith doesn’t mean we will receive our reward here on earth.  Sometimes I think  I deserve the reward of what I took the step of faith for here and now. So self-righteous, I tell ya.  It isn’t promised for the here and now.  The reward could come or it could not.

BUT our God is so loving that even when He asks you to take a step of faith or to walk by faith, He promises to be WITH you and shows up to prod you along the way.  He has made me so aware of that, through the way He shows up daily to make His presence known to me.

By faith Jesus went to the cross for me. And that doesn’t make sense now does it?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding MAY come before, in the middle, or after the step of obedience and faith is taken.  I think God has just been teaching me that it isn’t always beforehand. No matter the circumstances, good or bad, with prayer and thanksgiving (unto Him), the peace of God will come in the journey of walking it out by faith. He does assure us of that. Philippians 4:6-7


Lindsay said...

So beautifully written, Shar. Thanks for your courage to share with us your fears, concerns, faith and love for our unfailing God. Love you girl! :)

Carly Collins said...

Great reminder, friend! Thank you for sharing your journey. I can certainly resonate with so much of what you shared. It is amazing how journeys can look so different and yet the lessons often overlap in such profound ways. Thank you God for being so good & for friends to share the path. Even from far away. Much love to you!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written post. I just came upon your blog, we share a similar diagnosis( bicornuate), I am older than you and have journeyed through an entire life with this. Trial after trial. Keep the faith, so hard, but we are unique...