Thursday, September 27, 2012

{yada, yada, yada} {part I}

Alright, y'all.  This is a long one (so long, in fact, that I'm breaking it up into 3 parts), but just stick with me.

I've been challenged lately and today, I'm taking you with me on this journey.  Our Bible class has been doing a topical study of this book called "Not a Fan" and our minister has been doing some fantastic sermons lately about faith and trusting God and learning more about His character, and it's sort of crazy how it's all been fitting together, so this is a summary of those teachings as well as my thoughts on all of it.  {So no one things I'm stealing, shout-outs to Russell Carr and Dave Yasko--neither of whom actually reads my blog :) --for many of the questions and analogies I'll be sharing.}  Ready?  Alrighty, let's go.

Let's talk a little about faith.  Yep.  I know.  You already know what faith is.  You've heard it your whole life.  You know you have to have it to understand why Christians believe what they do.  But do you really know what it means to have faith?  I thought I did.  But I was wrong.  So let's talk.

We are given a clear definition of faith in the letter to the Hebrews.

{Now FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.}

Okay, that's all well and good.  But, let's go real talk here--I'm a lawyer.  When I see a statement like that, the first thing that comes to my mind is "...but how?"  But how am I supposed to be sure of something that I can't envision and certain of something that seems unrealistic or infeasible to me?

My whole life, I have been taught to believe that God will provide.  I have read it in my Bible and I have heard it in my Sunday School lessons and in church service.  And you know what?  I do believe that.  But sometimes, if I were to take a step back and examine what my life looks like from the outside, I can't honestly say that I've always lived that out.  {a little talk about head knowledge vs. heart knowledge coming up} I complain about the stage of life I'm in.  I fear that things won't turn out the way that I envisioned them.  I get frustrated when I don't see what's coming up next.  I simply often fail to trust God with the future.

Fortunately, God always has a way of giving me an encouraging word or gentle nudge to remind me that I am supposed to trust him, so I snap out of my rut and repeat to myself that He will provide. Out of obedience, I pray for wisdom and patience then push all the negative thoughts out and choose to just ignore them for the time being.  Sometimes I go back and read my old journal entries to see how God has provided for me in the past and get re-energized by that reminder.  And until recently, I thought that was enough.  I thought that was faith--being able to look at God's actions in the past and then push the negative out and just decide to believe in Him based on what I've seen.  There are two {well, probably more} major problems with that method, though.*  (1) Living only off of head knowledge about God's past actions usually doesn't stick.  Every time a situation arises in which God is calling me to be in a different place than I expected or to be willing to be content where I am and trust Him for my future, I have to go through the whole process all over again--sadness, denial, frustration, hear an encouraging scripture/read an old journal entry, push the thoughts out, move on.  And what do you do when there is no past example that's similar to what you're struggling with right now?   And (2) God is so much bigger than just what I have been able to see in my past or even in the {relatively} few stories captured in the Bible.  Surely this is not all that God wants from us.  Surely He didn't give up Jesus for us so that we could just choose him in our heads but not our hearts.  Right?  He wants obedience, yes, but He also wants us to learn to trust Him because of who He is {through knowing his character--I call that "heart knowledge"} and not just what He has done {that's what I call "head knowledge"}. 

Here's what I'm learning--Faith isn't something you can just force yourself to have.  It's not something you can will yourself to have.  It's not something you can just turn on when you need it.  Faith is based in something so much deeper and to have true heart knowledge of what it means to live by faith, we have to learn more about where it comes from--we have to go to the Source.  To be able to answer the questions "How am I supposed to be sure of something that I can't envision and certain of something that seems unrealistic or infeasible to me?" we have to get to know the One in charge, and not just know of Him.

Tune in for Part II coming up soon.

*Caveat: You'll see as you read through the remaining parts of this series that I do find it highly valuable to learn about and remind yourself of God's work throughout your life and throughout history--they are very important and integral ways of getting to know God.  But my point here is that simply knowing the facts alone is not enough.  Yes, faith involves knowing facts about God and it also involves a decision to trust him.  But, most importantly, growing your faith involves getting to know the character of God so that your decision comes from the inside out.  Hey, I told you this was going to be a journey...just stick with me.  Mmmk?

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