Today’s post is part journal entry, part encouragement for anyone who thinks like me, and part “I feel like I need to say these things ‘out loud’ to really cement them”. But, I also have a cute outfit at the bottom of the page, along with a side-by-side with middle school me, so please join me for whichever part(s) are most beneficial to you. I hope it all will be.
Although I was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus at a very young age, there is one aspect of the Christian faith that has always been difficult for me – the actual faith part.
I don’t have trouble believing that God exists, that Jesus died and rose again for our salvation, that one day all who believe in Him will be in Heaven, or any of the other key elements of Christianity. I don’t even have trouble believing that God directs our steps and has a divine plan for each one of us. But, when you start getting into the specifics of what that divine plan might be, or how God relates to us on an individual level, that’s where I’ve struggled more.
But, it is an invaluable lesson, if we can get it, and the way God is teaching me about faith at the moment is by leading me to have faith for something VERY specific. I’ve literally never done this before. Sure, I’ve asked God whether or not I should take a certain job and had faith that He was directing me. Or, I’ve prayed for someone’s health or financial situation and believed that God would intervene. But, those all seemed very manageable and also generic enough that God could do a lot of different things, and I would still believe that He’d answered my prayer. These kinds of prayers did not “stretch” my faith or challenge my theology at all.
But this time is different. This time, there is no way for me to see God’s hand through a variety of solutions. I’m either right in what I believe God has spoken to my heart and He’ll do it, or I’m wrong and He won’t. And if He doesn’t, then I’ll have to wrestle with what that means. But there is no wiggle room. There is no way for a half-answered prayer here.
I’ve never been a “name it/claim it” person; it doesn’t fit with my theology. I don’t think God is a cosmic genie, up in the heavens ready at our beck and call to grant our wishes. However, I do believe that God is a good Father, I believe He answers prayer, and I believe He speaks to us in all kinds of different ways, if only we will listen. I also believe, as one of my mentors used to say, that He wants us to be in His will even more than we do.
So, when I felt that God laid something specific on my heart to pray in faith for/about, I didn’t feel that I was “naming” it and claiming it. Rather, I felt like He gave me the idea in the first place. Yes, it’s an idea that I’m super into, but I wasn’t just sitting around thinking of things I wanted and giving God His marching orders. Instead, I felt like God had invited me to join Him in working to accomplish His will by placing this particular situation on my heart. My responsibility in this task was to pray and to believe that He will do what He has said, which is both an honor and very humbling – but also a little terrifying.
I guess the reason praying for something specific scares me so much, besides the fact that I’ve never done it before, is that I could be wrong. And if I’m wrong, what does that say about my relationship with God – my ability to hear from Him, His willingness to speak to me, who He is in general…
Also, if I’m wrong, not only will I be disappointed, but I’ll feel foolish. I’m not talking to many people about this situation – you know, except all of you – so, there won’t be a lot of other people judging me if I misheard. But I’ll know.
But faith is risky by its very nature.
Everything good in life is: relationships, love, new ventures, investments. If we only made decisions based on very sure things, we’d have a limited pool of options available to us.
I was talking to a wise friend about this a month or two ago, and I expressed to her my fear about having misheard God and what the implications of that might be for my faith overall. She asked a simple question, “But, what is your alternative?”
That question put everything into perspective for me, because she’s right – I have no alternative. If God is not who He says He is, what hope do I have in life at all? A hopeless, godless life is a reality I can’t even fathom. So, then, if I believe God is who He says He is, how does that impact my daily life? Do I also believe that He speaks to me, and if so, what do I do about what He’s said?
As my friend and I were talking, I couldn’t help but think of several Biblical heroes who have faced very specific situations that were likely quite trying on their faith. I think we read these Bible stories as though the characters in them are just innately good, and they didn’t ever struggle to have the right response. But I bet it was just as difficult for them to exercise faith as it is for us. Thankfully, though, we have the benefit of their experiences to inspire us in our own.
For example, when faced with the very real possibility of losing her position – and her life – by going before the king uninvited, Queen Esther said, “If I perish, I perish” – and armed with the prayers of her people, she stepped out in faith and saved an entire nation from annihilation.
Abraham followed God’s word up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, believing all the way that God would provide an alternative sacrifice. But if He didn’t, Abraham was still going to believe God and go through with what He had said. Fortunately, God did provide a ram in the thicket…just in the nick of time.
Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood at the edge of the fiery furnace, boldly proclaiming that God would rescue them. But even if He did not, they committed that they would not turn away from Him. In their case, their faith was so tested, they actually went INTO the fire before God saved them. But, save them He did and not even their clothes smelled of smoke.
What is even more encouraging about these stories is that not only did all of these people stand in faith in impossible circumstances, believing in God regardless of the consequences, but in each situation, God did come through and their faith was rewarded.
So, with all of these truths in mind, I’ve decided to press forward in the direction I believe that God has called me. It is a risk. I might be wrong. I might be disappointed. But, I also might grow in the Lord in a way I’ve never yet experienced.
Like Esther, I’m choosing to take a risk in faith, and if I perish, I perish (which, in this particular situation is unlikely to happen, but I can be dramatic, so the phrase seems fitting). And I’m excited to see what/how/when/why God will use my faith and work in my life.
A couple of years ago, I did a series on hope (parts 2 and 3 here and here). Faith is hope’s very close cousin. The other day, Sandi Patty, my childhood musical idol, posted something on Instagram from her husband, who commented that faith is the substance of things hoped for – a verse we all know. But, that means that faith is what allows us to have hope; it’s the basis of our hope. Faith in God’s goodness is what gives us the strength to hope.
First Corinthians says, these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. So, now that I’ve mastered the first two (jk about the mastering…), maybe you can expect a love series sometime in the future. I probably have an awful lot of lessons to learn on the “greatest of these”.
And now, as promised, here is my cute outfit – and a sudden transition.
I’ve wanted to get in on the overalls trend since they first rolled back into style a few years ago, but since I refuse to pay full (over)price for farm clothing, I had to wait until I could find a good deal. So, finally, at the end of summer, I’ve found my white shorts overalls, and I just hope they’ll still be in style next year.
This shirt was a vacation purchase, which is honestly the only reason I own it. It was more than I would normally have paid, but who can do math properly while you’re at the beach? So, I accidentally bought it and now I’m pretty happy that I did. In the close up, you can see more of the shirt detail – as well as the buttons on my overalls.
The last time overalls were in style, I was 12 and I was ALL ABOUT THEM.
So, in celebration of the style’s return, here is a side-by-side of 2019 me and 1997 me…who wore it better?
So, there you have it. What has God taught you about faith recently, or how have you seen him work in your life as you’ve stepped out in faith?
Or, if you’d rather, we can talk about overalls. What do you think of this trend?
As always, thank you all for reading. You’re all just the best.