Faith is a gift we are given from the Lord and we can choose to accept this gift or not. When we accept the gift, we are saved by it, made whole through it, and protected and directed by it – and so much more. That being said, we can’t feel it, smell it, taste it, touch it, or hear it – well, not in the ways we can soiled socks, roses, or chocolate cake, anyway. It’s one of those “I just know what I know” concepts that both bless and frustrate, depending how you approach the equation. If you are determined not to accept a gift you can’t touch from a Lord you can’t see, you will either stop reading this now or perhaps continue in order to add fuel to the fire of your response. My hope is that you’ll let Jesus change your heart and that somehow these words written by this flawed human might inspire you to invite Him into your heart. Meanwhile, I will share thoughts on faith that have been planted in my heart in the last few days. First a quote or two which inspired them:
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
1 Peter 5:8-9
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
My first thought after reading these two quotes is that our Lord has infinite patience. I know this because I’ve given Him my heart but that sure doesn’t mean I don’t cry out “where are you?” or “why haven’t you answered my prayer?” Yet, I do have faith. He has given it to me. Trust comes separately. Trust comes when my focus is on Him. He is the source of all hope and strength. If only I could be steadfast in my trust, my prayer with expectation and praise really could move that mountain. However, as Peter’s letter reminds us, we are weak, we do suffer, and we are not alone in doing so. The challenges we face are the same ones “the world is undergoing.”
As I was pondering this, I thought of quicksand. My troubles are many. They surround me, just as though I’m stuck in quicksand and sinking fast. What are my choices? I can focus on the quicksand and my problems will be all I see. I will feel myself sinking fast.
I have another choice. I can “be alert and of sober mind” and realize that my Lord is with me. I can focus on Him and on His grace given to me. I can let the faith He gave me wash over me and keep my eyes on Him.
In both examples, my problems surround me, but in the second option, I focus on the Lord and see His hand stretched out toward me and within my reach. I am surrounded by His grace and blessings in both cases, but when I turn my attention to myself and my problems, I’m not accepting His gifts, and not accepting His outstretched hand. I can choose to sink into the quicksand, or not. It is up to me. Faith really is that simple.
Consider, for a moment, my favorite writings on the topic of faith – the Letters of Paul in the New Testament. So, we read his letters and they are loaded. But, what I come away from them with is a feeling of a powerful love and faith. I do not come away from them with a feeling of “poor Paul – nothing goes right for him. He turned his life around and it’s just been one heart-break after another.” I come away from it thinking “Wow, when you say yes to Christ, your life is never the same. It’s AMAZING how grace and blessings flow!” I also am blown away at his trust in the Lord and the love flowing from letters written while he himself is in prison and being very likely subjected to steady abuse.
Paul’s life was, in many ways, a train wreck as he wrote his letters. Okay, perhaps not every moment, but mostly. He did, after all, get a few tents made and some traveling and preaching on the road done, but there was drama in his life for sure and scary constantly life threatening situations . Potential disasters were always near. He was also a leader to others who were taking on the same ministry and whom he surely knew he was leading down a path that would very likely cost them their lives just as he’d end up losing his own. It seems to me that regardless of his faith, that must have troubled him. He surely loved these whom he taught and surely thought of the circumstances the “new life” would bring to them in this world. Ultimately, as Paul wrote these letters, he knew where he was going and he knew if he kept steadfast in his faith, his Lord was with him. Paul knew where he was really going. The hand the Lord stretched out to lead Him was the very hand which He also stretched out on the cross when He gave up His life in this world, so that we could join Him in eternity.
So, I ask you – where do you choose to direct your focus? Accept the gift of faith, won’t you?