“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
A few years ago, I was attending a planetarium event with my daughter and her friends. As we gazed at the galaxies and myriad gorgeous, brilliant stars, I had the breath-taking sense of how much bigger God was than I could ever perceive. Oddly, it gave me confidence in His ability to take care of my small needs in comparison to how profoundly immeasurable was his power, his knowledge and His beauty in what He had created. His expansive self is much beyond my ability to comprehend His transcendence, but is a comfort to speak to me of His ability to hold my needs capably in His hands. But I also reflected that His purposes and ways must be way beyond my own tiny perspective.
Daily we are confronted with issues of faith and choices to believe in Him at each point. In this season of Isis, violence in places all over the world, and political and financial unrest globally, I am watching my children prepare to leave to go into very challenging arenas, far from home. Nathan is in New York a totally radical culture from my frontier Colorado home. With 3 children in the United Kingdom, (St. Andrews, Scotland; Oxford, England, and Cambridge, England), I know that if something of world-wide import takes place, I will not be there to help my children. Even though they are adults, Clay and I still want to help them if ever they need it.
Yet, we have prepared our children from an early age to ask themselves, "What work has God created me to complete? How can I serve Him in His kingdom work?" And many years ago, we gave up the notion that we were able or supposed to control their lives. Though I will miss them and be lonely without them nearby, I believe with all of my heart that they are God's, that I will never be able to control them, that they must learn to exercise their own faith muscles to find their own purpose and calling in this world.
Faith is believing that God will be with them, guide them and care for them because His is their heavenly Father. Knowing they have been taught to have beliefs in Christ, to follow the wisdom of God's Word, faith is releasing them follow to His path for their unique lives without fear.
Faith is required at ever juncture of life--at birth of babies, through their years of fragility and sickness, trusting hat we will not mess them up by our inadequacies! During the years they learn to drive, hoping they will be safe. In the season when we send them into a secular world to learn the ropes of wisdom amidst foolishness, and hoping the foundations we laid are strong.
Faith follows us through dark times: a prodigal child, a chronic illness, a disabled child, a failed marriage, an unexpected tragedy. We look to God for His faithfulness to see us through our pain with our vision on eternity where we will know His comfort, peace and full reconciliation personally, His touch of sympathy face to face.
I recall a time when I began to practice actively living day by day into my faith in God. Many years ago, I had two miscarriages in one year, and all three of my children had pneumonia, chicken pox, ruptured ears and encephalitis–all within two months! We had made a move to a very tiny town in Texas and I had no friends, Clay had no job, and we were almost out of money. I was quite tired and struggled with depression but was really seeking answers from the Lord. We lived with my mother-in-law at the time, and going for long walks by myself was the only way I could get away to think and pray.
My circumstances did not look as though God was involved in helping me.
One day, as I was walking the long, barren country road near our home, and pondering, it was as if the Lord said to me, “Sally, if I took everything away from you that you hold dear, would you still believe in me?” It was suddenly as though God was shining a spotlight onto the deepest part of my soul. And I found at the very bottom of it, that with all the difficulties that a fallen world could throw at me, I would still rather hold on to my faith in God and believe in His love and goodness for the rest of my life, than to choose a life of existentialism and despair. And a realization came to me that this choice would require constant vigilance–that I would have to guard my heart and feed it with the truth of God’s word and His constancy in my life if it were to continue to stand.
A part of me realized that day that faith was planting a flag, so to speak, in my heart, and deciding to settle it once and for all–that for the rest of my life, no matter what, I would choose to believe in the Bible, to know that Jesus was real, and to trust that God was loving, no matter what! Faith was the assurance of things hoped for but not seen.
Faith was choosing to hope in Him every day, acting on that faith and hope, and understanding that without this commitment of my will to choosing to believe and hope, I couldn’t be pleasing to God or sense His wisdom and hand upon my life.
I would look back on that day as a day which would determine my present and future walk with God.
Making a decision to stand for faith meant many things. It meant I would choose to believe the best, and act in light of what scripture said He was–loving, righteous, good, kind, wise, and so on. I would believe in light when I found myself in darkness. I would believe that love redeemed and was a perfect bond of unity, even when I was confronted with unloving, immature people.
It meant choosing to believe that God did listen to my prayers and that the prayer of a righteous person avails much–and that in His time, I would see eternal results–even if it wasn’t on my time schedule.
I knew that if every time something difficult happened to me, I put God on trial again, that I would only be unstable and insecure in life–wondering and fearing when the next trial or danger would come my way, feeling that I would need to "take care of the details of my life by my own efforts and works," that I would have to "muscle" it out by spending a lot of effort controlling life.
But I also had the sense that if I built my life on the foundation of believing in Him, sowing faithfulness and goodness, that I would reap the blessing of freedom and peace from sowing on true and eternal principles. And I knew my children would breathe the oxygen of my own trust in Him, and learn to trust Him themselves.
“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
I decided never again to go to the active place of doubt–I would disregard it because of my once and for all commitment to believe in God, period. I wanted to sow faith and reap a life sprinkled with God's fingerprints of faithfulness and love as my heavenly Father. I pictured that in the same way that I made a promise that I would stay married to Clay and choose to love him unconditionally for all of our years, that leaving Him would not be an option, no matter how hard–that I needed to picture my commitment to God like that–forever and final, through all the seasons, difficulties, tests and blessings.
As I look back over the years, my commitment determined my behavior and always gave me direct instructions in which way to go–always to God, always to faith and always to obedience always to the word.
Choosing to Own my Faith has opened doors, provided peace of mind, given boldness in difficulties, established hope in God who does not change and who has proved faithful in every season. And because of His past faithfulness to carry me through all the challenging places of my life, I seek to remember these as I face new pathways of the unknown, and rest in faith that He will once again provide.
But faith and faith living pleases God who delights in companioning us through every season of our lives. Only by faith can we live the story He wants us to tell with our lives. Faith is a choice that maybe no one else will see, but opens our hearts to the blessing and favor of our God who lives to be faithful to us through every season.
To take your study deeper today, take a few moments to complete the reflection and application below.
- “He who would please God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 Have you made a decision to plant a flag of faith in your own life? What challenges that commitment?
- “As far as it is possible with you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18 Everyone has times of relational difficulty, unless they live as a hermit! Is there someone you should make peace with today?
- “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open for you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks, finds and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 Do you believe that God hears you? That He will answer in time? How can you strengthen your soul in order to continue choosing rightly in the midst of daily challenges?
Hope you enjoy this week's podcast. Share with your friends, discuss a faith life with your family. Choose faith for your circumstances today.