Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Working Faith



As I approached the new year, I started to become aware of a mistaken mindset that I've had for a long time.  I have been seeing a trend in how skewed beliefs affect my decision-making.  All this time I blindly functioned with the assumption that I was doing the best I could.  

But what I have realized is this:  there is a glitch in my faith.

When  faced with something that seemed hard, I immediately translated that to mean that I wouldn't do it.  It's not because I was intentionally being rebellious or lazy.  I just considered obstacles as closed doors.  The difficulties were obvious signs that it wasn't the right time to take that path.  If it was remotely complicated, I thought that it wasn't meant to be.

Oh, ye of little faith.

What I have missed with this way of thinking is that space between the here and the supernatural.  Somewhere, faith and hope and peace and joy are floating around us unseen.  All these spiritual gifts, are just waiting to be inhaled into our souls- where we can't touch belief, but we can feel it.  

We can sense God in that place, holding out to us tiny wrapped packages. But we wonder if they're for someone else.  Or if we take a gift, we say, "Thank you," admire the thought, then set it aside and never use it.

Something like faith, was never meant to sit on a shelf.  It may appear a small thing, but it is packed with potential.  Faith can spark big things.  It can produce miracles.  It can change everything.  

Faith can.

When that race looks impossibly long, and we don't think we can finish...Faith can.
When starting over seems like a joke, because we haven't succeeded before...Faith can.
When there's no proof and there's no chance, faith swoops in and messes up all of our logic.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for- the evidence of things unseen.

It's not easy to explain.  And yet there are all these stories of one prayer, one person, one life-changing decision that have been traced back to just a little bit of faith.  Someone just took God for his word, opened his gift, and gave faith a try.

Faith works. 

But faith without works is dead.  It's unusable.  It's a thing without batteries or an operator.  It just sits their lifeless.  Wasted.

So really, there wasn't a glitch in my faith over the years.  I had forgotten to take my gift out of the box and turn on the switch. I thought that "having faith" would be enough.  Possessing it. Calling it mine.

When Jesus healed the crippled, the diseased, the blind, He accredited their faith for making them well. They asked.  They moved in a direction.  They looked for Him and found Him. 

It was their last chance.  It was worth the trouble and travel and criticism. It was their opportunity, and they took it.

Their faith WALKED.  It HEALED.  It WORKED.  Jesus said so.

Our faith is a combination of believing, doing, and Jesus. It's the point right before giving up and right after acknowledging that it's a team effort.  

So what if it's hard?

It comes down to this: Do I believe God enough to obey what He is asking of me, even if it doesn't look like it will work?  I can admit that I am limited, but God isn't.  I can only do so much, but at least I'm not standing stillActivating my faith just means that I start, and then He and I finish...together.

And practice makes perfect, right? 

 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only..." -James 1:22

Monday, January 04, 2016

Keep Going: A Kind of Resolution

What if my New Year's resolution was just to keep going in 2016? 
What if I'm too tired to think of new ventures, and I'm doing great to not give up on this current gig?  
Is that even a resolution???

I'm wondering if it sounds depressing.  It doesn't seem all that inspiring.  Maybe it's not exciting enough. I don't know.

But, it fits the season I'm in.

Whether you're in the middle of homeschooling and carpooling, like I am, or you're jetting off to a meeting somewhere and juggling other responsibilities, we're all doing important work. Now.

It is super motivating to pick a day on the calendar as a goal or a deadline or a start date, but today needs my attention.  Right now. The homework, dinner prep, emotional meltdowns, and solving the disappearing sock mystery is about all I can focus on some days.  It only frustrates me to try to squeeze one more item on my agenda.

Embracing "now" is challenging enough, isn't it?  Being grateful and intentional and present is quite an undertaking in our world.  We're so busy, and there's still so much to do! Resolving to be happy, without wanting more or different or better, feels like both a worthy goal and a lofty aspiration.  

How do I do that? Give me lists!  Give me charts!  Give me the "how to," and I've got this!
Just don't leave me here long figuring it out on my own, because I'd like to get this over with and move on to the next thing!

And there it is again.  The hurry to get through whatever it is we're experiencing. 

What if it takes a little longer than you thought?  
What if the process of working hard on this job right in front you is actually the thing that makes you better?  

It's not the fun beginning or the blessed end.  It's the middle- working hard, and not giving up. Keep going, keep hoping, and keep doing good when it's not fun...and still not over. It's what the mom season is all about.

That's kind of a resolution, right? 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Let us not become tired of doing good.  At the right time we will gather a crop if we don't give up (Galatians 6:9).

But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7).

The strength to go on [endurance, perseverance] produces character. Character produces hope (Romans 5:4).