December 9, 2011

fleshing out faith

I've always been a pragmatist.  An optimistic realist, I'd say.  Love the lofty, absolutely, but if it doesn't work, out it goes.

I would say I believed in prayer, believed in a healing God, a God who hears and loves to answer.  When I prayed and got an immediate answer, I was thrilled.  My faith, I thought, was bolstered and increased.

When I prayed and nothing happened, I'd chalk it up to some mistake I'd made in praying or in hearing God, and forget about it.

Rarely did I persevere in prayer.  Somehow I figured that if God wanted to grant my request, he'd do it right then. ...  I wonder how many answers I've missed seeing because I'd lost sight of the prayer I prayed?

Then the other day I got a shock.

I read in Hebrews chapter 11 about people who believed God and clung to faith even though they never saw fulfillment of the promises they were given.  I've read it before, of course, but it never really struck me:  they died, believing without seeing.  A whole lifetime of faith, passed down to children:  "What our God has said, He will surely do."

Nothing happened, but "nothing" didn't shake them.

They believed anyway.

Suddenly my faith looks tiny.  Microscopic.  Nonexistent?

I rejoice in stories of God's faithful provision for others, but when he asks me  to step out in faith and do something that makes me vulnerable and completely dependent on him .... I hesitate.  "Did I really hear you, God?  But that doesn't make sense.  What if ....?"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5-6

 I want to pray for boldness, courage, an increase of faith ... but I hear him ask me to trust him with what I have, now.  Trust him through my fear - obey without comprehension.

It's no more than what I ask of my own children.  And I, the far-from-perfect parent, frustrate myself with wondering why they disobey, why they hesitate, why they don't trust.

Oh, humanity!  Oh, the patient mercy of our God!

He is perfect.  He is loving.  He is trustworthy.  His plans for me are not to harm me, but to prosper me, to give me a future and a hope  (Jeremiah 29:11).

If I can't trust God, who can I trust?  

And if I trust no one but myself .... my record does not recommend itself, frankly.  Do I really want to forge my own way?  Depend on my own frailty for sustenance?  And if I don't trust him, why should he uphold me?

I am at an impasse.  Will I listen to fear?  

Or to love?

[and oh, if you only knew the tiny thing he asks of me ... !]

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