Sometimes We Choose

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed… John 20:29

Sometimes faith is close, natural like breathing.  When His presence is sure and steady, fierce and joyful, we rest in knowing that He is near.  Like the cloud and the fire that led the Israelites, we can see Him in the unfolding of our day… His love enveloping.  When we’re standing before a burning bush, the heat of it comforts.  We may not see His physical presence, but we can feel that He is there… without question, without trying… we know He is with us.

But sometimes faith isn’t easy.  On some days, we are less like Caleb (confident in our calling, sure of His guidance) and more like Thomas, in need of reassurance, or like the writer of Ecclesiastes… a little weary of life, wondering what it’s all about.  If we are honest and strip away what we think we should always feel… we can admit that, sometimes, choosing to believe is hard.  When life is pressing in or maybe the presence of God isn’t quite so tangible… when our prayers feel hollow and our passion isn’t sparkling… this is the time when we must exercise our faith.  It must not be about our emotion, but about Him. About what is True in and out of season.  Our Rock and our foundation… knowledge that He is still the same.  That our feelings don’t dictate who He is or His love for us.

Remember how people in the Old Testament were often making altars when they had significant encounters with God?  They needed to be able to remember what He had done… how He had blessed… His faithfulness.  When a hard time came, they’d be able to see that altar and say ~Yes.  He Is.

He pours so much grace into our lives… will we remember the blessings if He lets us walk a while through a wilderness?  Will we choose to love Him ~ with our hearts and with our actions ~ even if it’s hard to hear His voice?  Even if we don’t immediately feel His pleasure in our offerings?  Will we say, ‘Yes. He is.’ no matter what?

I think that we are so accustomed to a pace of immediacy… so used to getting what we want in the blink of an eye… and God is above our time-frames.  His time is limitless, His vision stretches backwards and forwards into forever…and so He is not bound by our frantic scheduling, striving, and I need this now (or by tomorrow, for sure!) perspectives.

Sometimes He asks us to wait on Him, to be of good courage.  To trust that He will strengthen our hearts, that His grace is sufficient in all things.

So if this is a time when faith doesn’t come so easily… when His whisper is hard to hear amidst the hurricane and earthquake… please don’t quit.  Remember the love that has comforted you in time of need.  Remember His goodness. Remember His mercy.  Look back at the altars of your life and worship.

Don’t stop praying, even if it feels like you’re not making a connection.  He has not stopped listening.  It’s time for you to trust that He is there, however you feel.

Don’t let discouragement close your eyes.  Open them wider, keep seeking Him. Stop outside and look at how big, how wide, how endless the heavens seem to us… they are out of our reach but in His hands… those skies were spun by His Word and it is that same power that is working for your good.

Don’t stop reading His Word.  He is still speaking to you through His revelation… and just like you don’t feel the benefit of vitamins at the moment you’re taking them, you might not always feel ignited by the Words you read. But the vitamins nourish your system and His Words are life to your soul… and this faith that we are exercising comes by hearing His Word.

Let your love be found steady, your surrender complete.  Your willingness to follow when it’s time to dig deep and sacrifice…

Sometimes, just like a loving parent, He may take the training wheels off… He may see if we are steady enough for a bigger bike.  For a new terrain.  To teach someone else how to ride.

Abraham raised the knife over his only son.  Noah started cutting lumber without a cloud in the sky.  Esther walked into a King’s court with no guarantee of walking back out again.  Our Savior felt forsaken on the cross, but He did not abandon His love-mission for us.

Sometimes faith is putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to trust that He is there, even if the weather is murky and there are no clear signals.

And if you keep walking, you’ll find that not one breadth of your road wasn’t upheld by His hand.  Not one day of your life was overlooked.  Not one word went unheard and not one tear went unnoticed.

He promised and so I say with confidence: He is with you.

These are the days when we look ahead to what is hoped for and we don’t grow weary in doing good, in being true to His heart, because He has been true to us in and out of our shaky faithfulness to Him.

And one day, we will remain in His presence and there will be no separation, no glass darkly through which to see Him.  He will be our light and He will be our temple.  We will hear His voice and He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Fully restored, our communion with Him.  Fully restored and never to be broken again.

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… this trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children… God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best.  At the same time, discipline is not much fun.  It always feels like it’s going against the grain.  Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

So don’t sit around on your hands!  No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle.  Help each other out.

And run for it!

Do you see what we’ve got?  An unshakable kingdom!  And do you see how thankful we must be?  Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God.  For God is not an indifferent bystander…

May God make us into what gives Him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.  All glory to Jesus forever and always!  Oh, yes, yes, yes!

~from Hebrews 11,12, &13 (the MSG)

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