Conclusions About Faith

Is faith supposed to be exciting? I’ve contemplated this thing we call faith and the reactions that we all have. I believe I may be coming to more interesting conclusions for myself about the situations we call faith.

We commonly say “Oh they’re moving into the ministry, how exciting!” or “They’re stepping out on faith, what a thrill!” or “Congratulations on your new venture for the Lord.” I think events in faithfulness should be rewarded with the congratulations, excitement, and well wishes… and quite possibly this step toward ministry is an event of a lifetime but should it be wrapped in these well-wishes of excitement?

Did Abraham have a good-bye party when he packed up his caravan and started following God to a land of promise he’d never seen? I doubt that the Chaldeans were waving good-bye as he departed. There had to be thoughts of wonder and questions about where he was headed. There’s no record either way that his step of faith was with glee and a high leap and click of the heels or with solemn reserve.

Mary was given the news that she was going to be the mother of the Christ child. She marvelled at the salutation that the angel had given to her, wondering what it meant that he had spoken to her in such a kind way. She had questions about the thing the Lord wanted to do in her life. “How could this be?” Her questions were answered that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and bring forth the life of the Son of God within her womb. She pondered these things in her heart and moved on with her life in faith. She spent her entire life thinking about all the things that she saw before her eyes. This thing God did in her life, these changes that would take faith to believe, brought her contemplation.

The passage in Hebrews 11 is typically called the “hall of faith” of those throughout the Bible that God saw as being faithful to Himself. Noah moved with fear in the building of the ark. Sara, Abraham’s wife, received strength in her old age to bear a child (There’s a lot of fear in the unknown when you have your first child). Moses chose to suffer affliction with his own people instead of living in the upscale lifestyle of the Egyptians. Then verses 33-38 reveal circumstances of unnamed Christians that followed the Lord through faith in trials and afflictions, some losing their life, some being able to witness miracles in seeing their loved ones raised to life after dying, others were tortured, stripped of their clothing and forced to wander in wildernesses and hide in caves. It seems to me that each situation that the Lord allowed in these people’s lives was one in which they did not know the ending or could not predict the circumstances that would lie ahead and must stand up toward God with a clean conscience. They had to hope sincerely that God would deliver them through a miracle or bring them to be in heaven with Him because that’s what He promised.

If we consider the things that have caused us to have faith we’ll find that it’s most typically the “unknown” future. When we don’t know where the money will come from, the food, the school supplies, the shoes for the kids, the healthcare for a loved one, the strength to withstand the persecutions of a co-worker, changing your lifestyle to fit the Bible instead of how you have lived, deciding not to smoke any longer, facing the death of a loved one, the loss of your house or car, the melting away of your marriage, the move of your family to a new town God called you to, that’s when God wants us to seek Him. That’s when faith is tested, will I contemplate what the Lord is doing like Mary did? Will I move with fear like Moses did and obey? The unknown should make us look to God in reverence because truly He does know all things and does not want anything besides His glory for our lives.

“Well what if bad things happen?” “What if people hate me and treat me as an outcast?” “What if I lose my job or position?” “What if our nation doesn’t make it?” As God describes in the passage of Hebrews the shameful things that happened to those that were faithful to Him he says something “Of whom the world was not worthy.” Where was the worth those people had if the world was not worthy of them and their faith? Apparently God deemed them to have great worth for Himself. God wants us all to be worthy, outside of our earthly circumstances.

Faith can be exciting when you think “What will God do next?” or “How will he answer this prayer?” Faith is not limited to special events in our lives or the lives of others. All faith has to be known by is the “unknown” and received in our hearts for believing and seeking. The biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

These two verses boil faith down to 1. believing and 2. seeking. “The substance of things HOPED for…for he that come to God must BELIEVE that he is.” We are not able to hope in something we do not believe in. Children do not hope the tooth fairy will come and put money underneath their pillow after they have lost a tooth if they do not believe in the tooth fairy. We cannot hope for what we do not believe God is or what He has said in the pages of the Bible.

The second aspect is seeking, “The evidence of things NOT SEEN…and he is a rewarder of them that diligently SEEK him.” The game of hide and seek is pointless if someone is not hiding, or out of the view of the seeker. God chooses to allow things to be unseen in our lives so that we will diligently seek Him. There is evidence of the things we cannot see through the written scripture of God’s promises and also when God reveals the unseen things through His timing and answering of prayer.

I pray that I will be diligent seeking what He wants me to find and that I’ll be able to be rewarded one day in years to come for faithfulness and found worthy of His reward. I hope that you too, even though it may not be a heel-clicking good time going on in your life now, that you will persevere in your faith and never let go of God just because you cannot see His hand.

© The Ministry Mama 2009 No part of this may be reproduced online or otherwise without the expressed permission of The Ministry Mama.

I Miss You Heaps & Think of You Often

A collection, a file of sorts sits in a box probably in storage. Neat rows of opened envelopes each with pages filled with thoughts and questions of my past written to my best friend.The letters and cards she had written to me are long gone in an apartment fire that happened early in my marriage. But to her, I sit in a shoe box or plastic container, she was a bit of an organized perfectionist, a little more OCD than she probably would ever admit. I sit there in storage waiting for her to find me when she moves again or cleans out a closet. I am only a memory now of the past we shared together through Junior High and High School.

We began molting our childish feathers and finding new wings. The wings of God’s calling flew me to Bible College. Her wings flew her to a town a couple of hours away from our hometown, where she pursued a degree at a popular college. Once we said good-bye to go to college our paths have only crossed a few times. She came to my college once on a weekend right after I had started school. Then, a few months after I was married my husband and I stopped by her parents’ house at Christmas knowing she would be there. We hung out and laughed hilariously together watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. The last time I spent time with her, I attended her college graduation with my oldest son but that was a bit awkward.

I still keep in touch with her mother but my attempts of writing letters like we did in high school have failed. This Christmas I gathered some courage, after not hearing from her in years, and sent a Christmas card with a photo of only myself inside. No response… To me it’s like the awful feeling of being dumped when you don’t know what you did wrong…

…I don’t think it is what I did wrong though, it was what I chose to do right. I followed God’s call and obeyed Him and what He wanted for me. When I went into her home when I went to her college graduation there were alcohol bottles everywhere used as decorations. She was also obviously uncomfortable that I was there seeing that. The red lights began to blink like when the guard comes down at a railroad crossing and it was obvious that our relationship would probably never be what it was in the past.

Thinking back, I am not even sure what our first words were to each other when we met in Sunday School in Junior High. We exchanged e-mail addresses and began writing lengthy e-mails about life as we knew it. I called her a “home school freak” because I was a public schooler. Home schooling and Christian school were foreign to me. Our church had a Christian school and I was one of a minority of public schoolers in the youth group, that is probably why we naturally gravitated to one another… we were outsiders to the clique.

By the time she had a car we went out almost every other weekend eating at our favorite restaurants and going to Barnes and Noble or the movies. We would go out toilet papering other people’s homes, we were roomies on our youth group trip to Mexico. She even fainted on me one time when were on a rafting trip with our youth group because she hadn’t eaten any of the food the whole time because she was pretty selective in her food choices, in other words picky. We were her older sister’s bridesmaids and we shared our graduation party together at her parents’ house. We were close and could always speak in written form on the deepest subjects but face to face we had obstacles revealing who we really were and wished to become. I hid a lot of my bad choices I was making with my other friends at school away from her. I believe she hid the things she wanted to do but couldn’t.

I made some poor choices back then, sin’s temptations lured me in and I failed many times. But it was God that was still moving in my heart back then and getting me ready to be molded and changed for today. I have close friends now, God brought His replacements in when I had a need for good friends. (I love you guys!)

No one writes to me like she wrote me… and I still mourn the lost friendship. It’s been over 10 years now.

Her mom told me one day that she thought she would come back to our friendship some day because she still keeps my letters. That one day when she is married she will understand more about me and my life.

My whirlwind marriage kind of freaked her out…she was never one that embraced change willingly. One day I had to come to grips that she may never come back. I may always be a box full of letters and photos to her from now on. But I still wait, hoping with an open door to my heart that one day I will no longer be rejected for who God wanted and has changed me to be. Yes my life is different, yes God is the center of my life, but I still laugh and cry. I still need friends and love fun. I have a husband and kids but still am a Joe-normal person on the inside. Sometimes I think people forget that God’s servants may leave many things that were once dear to their hearts behind to come and serve them. The facts are that when you separate yourself unto Christ and decide to follow Him, sometimes is separates you from those dearest to you.

She gave me a card once that had a girl in a life jacket on the front and it said “If we were on a ship and there was only one life jacket…” you opened the card and it read, “I’d miss you heaps and think of you often.” It was very funny because that was just the kind of humor in our relationship. It kind of rings true in my heart though, I miss her heaps and think of her often, but I’ve left the door open so that if she wants to come back she can.

We see families in our churches leave for whatever reason and it can be painful to watch as they make a decision to go to another church or choose to serve God a little less. It hurts because a ministry mama’s life is spent investing in the lives of parents and their children when you serve them in church activities, Sunday School, and the nursery. We can be tempted to carry bitterness toward them for walking away and sometimes leaving us hanging when they leave their ministry positions behind without a second thought or explanation. I am going to urge you and myself to leave the door open!!

Give yourself peace, so that when you run into them at the grocery store or the park, that you can still greet them with a smile and genuinely care about how they are doing. Then, if it ever happens that they come back to your church, you can welcome them without a grudge or root of bitterness inside. Some people may never come back and you may always feel that sadness, just miss them heaps and pray for them often!

Loss seems to be something that goes with ministry but I never want to get a hard heart and expect that people are always going to disappoint or leave. Our pastor gave a good point in a recent message, “Only expect out of people, what God expects out of people.” You have probably heard the saying that people are in our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. The relationships we have with members of our churches do evolve, we may be burdened to pray for and help a certain person one month and then God will bring a new person to help and pray for into your life the next. We are growing, changing, struggling, and should always be changing to become like Christ, and other people are doing the same things in their lives. Give people a little slack…

Did you ever think, Christ did not only leave the door open for us, He came knocking on our heart’s door!

Following Christ’s call is not always easy. It may cost much. And we may have holes of sadness, like how I miss my friend, but God’s friendship is greater than any earthly friendship or relationship. While I hope for my friend to return, I look forward to Christ’s return because even though I have never met Him there are times I miss Him heaps and deeply long to be with Him face-to-face. So, if you take anything away from this I encourage you to let go of bitterness toward those that may walk away and Leave the Door Open!

Dear friend, if you are out there reading this. The door’s open and like Motel 6, I’ve left the light on for ya. And yes, I really do miss you heaps and think of you often!