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13 October, 2013

Faith - Part 10/10

Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Faith is not as easy as we think it is. It is so easy for us to criticize the Israelites for not trusting God when they could not find water, just three days after they have had such great experiences with God. The only way we can understand why it was so hard for them to do something that appear so simple is to walk a mile in their shoes. Faith is not that easy when your life depends on it.

When I was led to a place where I truly had to trust God and believe with all my life that it was the right thing for me to lose everything, become penniless, homeless and jobless the first thing I said to Him was “ you mean I have to believe for real?”  I was not trying to be funny or clever. Those words came out of my mouth simply because I came face to face with my idea of faith and God’s idea. My idea of faith consisted of words, experiences, activities, emotions and so on and it was all beautiful as far as I was concerned and also for people observing me. There was no effort, no building up on faith, no trying to do anything that was peculiar, no God to impress, no letting go of my common sense and believe anything mystical about this Christian life.

When I uttered the words “you want me to believe for real?” All of the sudden I realized He was asking me to trust someone that no one has ever seen. He was asking me to believe those words that I have been reading in the Bible which were inspired by an invisible God. He was asking me to believe all those things I have been reading about Salvation and Christ truly died and most of all I had to believe that He truly ascended into heaven.  Yes, by the time He asked me to believe and bet my life on Him, I was experiencing Him and He was so real to me, but that’s not faith either. I found myself asking Him “but, how do I know you are not a figment of my imagination?” The reason we have this “fight and flight” response when God is testing our faith, it is because everything about faith defy logic and when common sense is out of the windows we have nothing else to go on.

When we look at Hebrews 11:6 most of us go through it and do not even think twice about what we are repeating. It was a frightening thing for me to master just this tiny part of the verse which is: “For he that comes to God must believe that he is.”   Do you realize even the demons are ahead of us? They believe so much that they shudder in the presence of Christ. You might think that this is beside the point that I am trying to make in this post. But it is not. The reason is, throughout my walk with God I never lose sight of the fact that even demons shudder in Christ’s presence and they live with great reverence toward God. So, I need to know that my walk goes further than that and the only way it is going to differentiate me from the demons is what I decide to do with my trust in Him and how well I am going to accept His leadership. In that sense, His leadership has to become a reality in my life and yours. I will never be content with an assumption that I am probably being led by Him.

I did not trust God right away and I spent days weighing things and trying to work it all out in my heart. One day, the Holy Spirit knew I was struggling with the idea of banking real life and real consequences with an invisible God that might not be real.” The compassion of the Holy Spirit was out of this world, with so much understanding and tenderness, He said “Jess” look into your heart, don’t try to understand with your mind but think about the changes that you know happened within you. Are these real changes? I had to say yes because few minutes at the feet of God is worth months of learning and changes on the inside. I knew I had become a different person because I had a spiritual relationship with Him. This life was mine and no one could take it away from my heart and I knew for a fact, this inward change and spiritual relationship were not my imagination. So, the Holy Spirit said then hold onto to what you know is true in this relationship and take the next step of faith with Him, this part of you that you cherish so much has been given to you by this invisible God you are doubting right now.  Only then, I knew I could trust Him for the next step.

Notice something, when I was not able to trust Him I did not get busy trying my earnest to bury what was going on in my life, through friends, social media, time spent on the internet or church activities.  I stayed close to Him and continued my Bible and prayer time along with mediation with a heart ready and willing to receive more instructions.  Another thing I found out, God is happy when we trust Him, but He is glorified when we trust right away within thinking twice about what He asks of us. So, He keeps taking us through more testing and as time goes by, we too we can see how fast we react in trusting His leading.  But, even when God is taking us through further testing, I find that sometimes we are totally oblivious to what He is doing until we take our focus off of us and look onto Jesus.

Throughout the years God has never let go and has always been by my side. It turns out, I never had to be on the streets because God had chosen a place for me to go and He prepared this person to receive me. But when you are dealing with a mean drunk who is always looking for the next fight, it is not easy.  While God prepared the heart of this person to give me a place to live, He did not take away his need to blackmail me day in day out. Everyday I lived with a constant reminder that I can be out on the streets.  As anxieties set in, it took me a few weeks to understand that I had no right to panic.

One day I received the usual threats and I was shown the doors, all of the sudden I realized that I have been living with anxieties in my heart instead of trusting God. I remember stopping what I was doing and instead of getting upset or taking the doors like I was told, one verse came to mind and I thought about the lilies of the valleys. Then I told myself, if God takes care of them, I am so much more than a lily to Him. I realized I had an extraordinary opportunity to once again trust His word and have faith in Him. I can smile about it now when I see how much God used this man’s meanness to keep testing my faith in Him until my faith was as strong as an oak tree.

God used this person's character to keep me deeper in my surrendering. There, I found not only there are three levels of surrendering to God but after a while you learn to live a life totally abandoned to Him. (& yes I found out there was a major spiritual difference between living the surrendered life and a life of complete abandonment to His will.)  I personally learned that the life of total abandonment resemble to the life of a branch attached to the tree of life and sucking everything needed to survive and flourish. No, you are not perfect, and you can step out of the abandoned life once in a while but the beauty of living a life totally abandoned to Him, is that you know when you step out of Him, because you are like a fish out of water.

I also learned, the faith that God is looking for has nothing to do with the opportunities we create for ourselves while forging our own footprints. Because, true faith is always about not knowing and not seeing, yet you chose to believe and walk the path however hard and in spite of the consequences. Our faith is directly related to our obedience to God‘s word.  Throughout the Bible faith is never about how well we believed in the past, but how well we pass today’s test of faith, Christianity is a continuous spiritual fight to keep your faith renewed in Him daily.

Brothers and sisters there is nothing glorious about my life, it is actually full of shame and hardships. I poured my heart out to you and shared my shame because if God could use my story to bring your forward and stop a man-made Christian walk, if you can end up in His arms of love, then glory to Him! You and I will not only meet in heaven but we will be right there serving as royalty, by His side.

 In His Agape Love & Service