Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dependable Faith…Tried, Tested & True


At times the topic of faith seems like the subject du jour. If I’m not in the middle of a crisis…I’m analyzing the last one I went through…examining my successes and failures. Sometimes it feels like for every time I get it right…trust God and believe Him in faith…I falter and fail twice as much.

At times I feel that my faith walk with God should in reality be called my faith wrestle with God. I feel like such a faith failure and wonder why God ever bothered to choose me. A Christian having failure of faith…probably isn’t the best witness to an unbelieving world. But I found reassurance when I heard Beth Moore say that when you wrestle with someone…it’s up close and personal. You are right there with them.

So while my wrestling may not be pretty….it’s real and honest. Maybe the best thing to take away from it…I’m still there wrestling…I’m hanging in and hanging on. Hanging on to Jesus.

In the past couple of days…I recorded some random thoughts about faith…and trusting God. Believing that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

When I pray and God is not answering my prayers…I know God can act and in the past has acted. But for whatever reason…He chooses not to do so now. At those times…I just don’t understand. I don’t know why He chooses not to answer some prayers. Sometimes getting over that faith barrier seems insurmountable when I’m not able to do anything to move the hand of God.

I won’t know for sure this side of heaven why God permits some things. But if I might suggest this…God wants me to praise Him and trust Him even when the answer is no. Look at Job and how much affliction he suffered unabated for so long. I think part of it is surrendering to His will and continuing to know that He is good…even when it doesn’t feel like it. Will I continue to trust Him…will I continue to reach out and pray anyway? Will I praise Him when the answer is not forthcoming or the answer is no?

Sometimes it’s harder to trust God when my prayer is unanswered than when His answer is no.

With a human being…if they have the ability to do something good and help…but refuse to help it reflects poorly on their character and heart. But the same does not hold true with God. His purposes are not only our immediate present here and now. He is looking at a greater good…and heavenly eternal lasting rewards. I want relief right now. Sometimes that will not achieve His greater plan. Thus His ways are higher than our ways…His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I think perhaps it’s about surrendering at a heart level. Knowing and believing that God is good and that He does love me…even when He allows pain and hurt and loneliness to continue…even when I don’t understand it.

I remember one of Pastor Philip De Courcy’s messages at Kindred Community Church….it was called Back from the Dead? He said that Jesus said to Mary and Mary…”For your sake I’m glad he’s dead…” Philip paused there and expanded on why Jesus…and God the Father may be glad in our pain and sorrow. Because He is in the process of working out a greater good.

His eyes are focused…far beyond…He can see the good in our immediate pain and difficulty. He knows how He’s changing us and using our circumstances to grow us…or to reach others. So…yes…in some respects God does want us to experience pain. But not for ill or bad purposed…but for good…and greater glory.

Doesn’t feel too good now does it. To know that there is One who is able to help…but He doesn’t. It hurts. My friend Mike Paddison recently observed that unanswered pray feels like rejection. Never thought of it like that…but yes it’s an apt description.

As I’m going back through and listening to Pastor Chuck Obremski’s Luke study…I’m relearning a lot about faith. Pastor Chuck reminded us that faith isn’t real until it’s tested. It can’t be depended upon until it’s tested. There are days I don’t like buying that notion…but honestly Chuck’s faith was among the most real that I’ve seen.
Faith that is purified and refined…goes through the fire. Will mine come out as pure gold?

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