Faith Focus Friday

About six months ago, I shared a bit about the ‘Soul Work’ that’s been happening in me. If you missed that blog post, you can read it HERE.

Guess what? Six months later, I’m still working on the same thing – the work of trusting God… having faith in the One who’s very name is Faithful. And I’ll tell you why. It’s because it seems like we’ve been in ‘the waiting room’ for so long.faith2

The very hardest thing for me is the WAITING. I realize this is partially because I live in such a speed-lane driving, fast-food eating, breaking-news sort of culture. But it’s also simply because the longer I wait, the more I have to work on trusting.

So as sit in the dimly-lit waiting room, I resonate with what one author says.

 

“Waiting may be the hardest single thing

we are called to do.

In the Bible, waiting is so closely associated with faith

that sometimes the two words are used interchangeably.

It is frustrating when we turn to the Bible

and find that God Himself,

who is all-powerful and all-wise,

keeps saying to his people,

‘Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him…

Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way,

and he will exalt you to inherit the land.’

Forty-three times in the Old Testament alone,

the people are commanded,

‘Wait. Wait on the LORD.’

-John Ortberg

 

Here’s a thought… maybe what God is doing IN me while I wait (the molding and shaping, the training of character, the pruning, the growing) is JUST AS IMPORTANT as what it is I think I am waiting for. Hmmmmm…..

So I’m calling today “Faith Focus Friday”. Here are a few quotes on ‘faith’ for reflection:

 

“Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led.

But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading.faith3

It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason –

a life of knowing Him who calls us to go.”

-Oswald Chambers

 

“An example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp.

On it, a prisoner had carved the words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine,faith1

I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown,

I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

What eyes could have seen good in such horror? There is only one answer:

Eyes that chose to see the unseen.”

-Max Lucado

 

“What is faith? It is total dependence on God that becomes supernatural in its working.

People with faith develop a second kind of sight.

They see more than just the circumstances;

they see God right beside them.

Can they prove it? No.

But by faith they know He’s there…

Faith alone is the trigger that release driving power.”

-Jim Cymbala

 

“True faith means holding nothing back.

It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises.”

-Francis Chan

 

“Waiting means that we give God

the benefit of the doubt

that He knows what He is doing.

It must be patient trust –

trust that is willing to waitfaith

again and again

day after day.”

-John Ortberg

 

That’s exactly what I have to do, over and over again. I have to continually, presently, actively believe that God is trustworthy. That He is worth following… even when I don’t understand where, how, why… Because He is God and I am not.

So I continue to wait… and trust.

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This Is Your Life (Part I)

I was walking alone one morning, in the quiet of the countryside, when I saw what appeared to be a path among the tall grasses. At first, I hardly took notice of it; it was so narrow, seemingly insignificant. But when I paused my steps to gaze about me, I contemplated that sliver in the meadow.  I recognized that it wasn’t even a path… just a single footpath, really, that traversed across the field and then disappeared over a small hill.

My curiosity piqued and I began to follow it. Chasing it up the hillside, I observed that the pathway had become more noticeable, more sure and packed down. As if more people had passed this way. Pausing at the top of the knoll, I looked out across the landscape. The site was absolutely breathtaking. So full and lush was the land, bursting with life and promise. I smiled to myself as I began to follow the trail on a winding descent. The sun was shining brightly, and it felt so warm on my back. The breeze was light, subtle, refreshing. Ipath2 picked some wildflowers and tucked them between the buttons of my shirt. Maybe someday I could plant some of those seeds. It was so glorious, so pleasant a moment, that I surprised myself by laughing out loud. I pressed on, the experience delightful, taking light dance-like steps through the meadow.

And then, much too suddenly, I was at the entrance of a forest. The path had led me straight to a wooded area. The journey ceased momentarily. The shaded woodland was mostly blanketed with leaves in the early spring. It took my eyes a moment to adjust to the faint darkness, but when they did I continued on. Gradually I recognized that the path through the wood had transformed into a trail that was wider than before. I noticed, too, that from other places in the woods, small walking paths seemed to join up here and there, merging with the wider trail I was now on.

After traveling for some time, it became apparent that I had been slowly ascending in the forest. When I turned to look back, I could see that a gradual incline had indeed happened. The forest didn’t seem nearly as dark and shadowy as when I first walked in and my senses began to notice things I’d neglected to see, hear, and smell earlier on the trail. While the sun’s rays were no longer on my back, the sun was still shining, filtering through the leaves up above and casting rays of beautiful light all around me. The sound of birds singing and branches creaking in the light breeze was like a song of serenity. Green plants poked up from underneath the thick layer of leaves on the forest floor. I bent and picked a few more flowers to add to my collection.

Turning back to the pathway, I continued to venture onward and upward.path The growling of my stomach told me that it was lunchtime and my eyes darted back and forth, away from the pathway into the woods in hopes of finding some wild berries to satisfy my hunger. The trail unexpectedly took on a much sharper incline. Not wanting to wonder off and lose my way, I trudged forward. A steady weariness began to pull at me. Rather than the singing of birds, I began to hear a rumbling noise, a low rumbling and a rushing. The sound increased the higher I climbed, and became so thunderous that I began to feel it in my chest. The trees grew fewer and farther apart as the path became steeper. Rather than a smooth, flat walkway, the trail was now more like a deeply grooved trail, much narrower than before.

At the precipice I saw a rushing waterfall crashing down onto the sharp rocks below. From there, the path took such a drastic downward turn that I had to grab hold of nearby tree limbs and branches to steady my slipping feet. I stumbled and slid my way back down to the flat land again. My throat was parched. My eyes were stinging with the tears of fear, loneliness and uncertainty.

When I reached the forest floor, I realized that the answer to this deep thirst could be met by the water of the clear, cool stream. Kneeling down, I scooped up the ice cold liquid and drank deeply. Then I drank from it again. And again. Water had never tasted so path3good! The pounding of the waterfall, now off in the distance, had been replaced by the rushing of a smooth river. A soothing sound. And I could see that the pathway was leading me out of the woods.

I felt a renewed sense of energy as I began walking steadily onward into the field. While I was physically tired from this last portion of my journey, I knew that I had grown stronger in it. My pace had slowed a bit, but was still steady and true. As I left the woods, I noticed that the sun was now shining in my eyes for it was late afternoon. Soon the big fiery ball would be sinking below the horizon. I wondered how much further I had to go on this journey and just where this path was taking me.

But then I saw the answer. As the meadow lane turned and dipped slightly downward, so did the swift flowing water. Following it, I could see that in the distance the river met up with a vast sea.  The sunlight sparkled on the water like diamonds, shimmering in all their glory. The breeze had picked up and it seemed to almost push me forward. Overwhelmed by the beauty, I stopped and sat down for the first time that day, right in the middle of the path.

I thought about the day. It had gone by so quickly, the course had varied greatly, but it had turned out so beautifully.  As I sat reflecting, I heard a whisper. Not an audible whisper, nor the whisper of the wind, but a whisper in my heart. The voice of my Savior. “This path you’ve been on is a picture of your lifetime…”

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(Stay tuned for the post NEXT WEEK when you’ll read what I heard from Him!)

In the meantime, ponder your own journey through life. What has it looked like? What type of terrain have you covered? How do you feel about the rough patches you’ve endured? The mountains you’ve climbed? The meadows you’ve merrily skipped through? The treacherous canyons you’ve fallen into?

Pause your steps and contemplate the path you’ve been travelling.

Till next time….

Soul Work

I’ve been working a lot lately. Working at TRUSTING. Wait. Working? Yep. Working at having faith.

How about meal planning, character training, school lessons, natural cleaning solutions?

Visiting, encouraging, correcting, enjoying, living?

Yes, these are the things that occupy much of my days, and all of them are part of my full life. But no, those things are not the specific work I’ve been pressed to attend to lately.

The soul-work I’ve been asked to focus on these past several months has been the work of trusting God. Relying on Him.

Having faith in His plan.trust2

Depending on The Way.

Trusting God.

Trusting that my God, El Roi (the God Who Sees), is confidently in control of my life.

Believing that my God, Jehovah-Shammah (the Lord is There), has gone ahead of me and is preparing the way for what is next in our lives.

Being sure that He, Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will Provide), will in no doubt give us all that we have need of.

Having faith that God Almighty is in control, now, even in this.

 That’s the work I’ve been doing. Because I’ve been asked to do it. By my Father.

In spite of all that is happening in and around me, my job is to trust.

Trusting. Is. Work.

Daily work.trust3

Hourly work.

“To trust in spite of the look of being forsaken; to keep crying out in to the vast, when comes no returning voice and where seems no hearing; to see the machinery of the world pauselessly grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life, nor shifting a hairbreadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving … such is faith indeed.” says George MacDonald. It isn’t easy, this life of faith. We don’t just ‘play’ at it. We ‘work’ at it! Trusting is called work!

This isn’t original with me. Identifying trust as the work that God has given me to do. WORK is actually what Jesus called it. It’s found in the gospel of John, chapter 6. There we read the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 with 5 small loaves and 2 fish from a young boys’ lunch. You may be familiar with that story. Jesus multiplied the meal and let scores have their fill. Then, He left the crowd with his closest disciples and went across the lake in the boat.

The next morning, when the crowd awoke and found that Jesus wasn’t with them anymore, they searched him out and eventually found him. But Jesus rebuked them. Read John 6:26 “Truly, truly I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves”.  If you pause in your reading you may ask yourself, as I did, why were the people looking for Him? Were they looking for Jesus to get to know Him more or were they simply looking for more of what He could give them? That’s a tough question for all of us to wrestle with. More of Jesus or more of His blessings? What am I seeking?

And then, in verse 29, we come to the crux.  Jesus says “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Did you see it? Jesus said that the work God has for me is the work of trusting in him. To rely on, cleave to, believe in Him. That is my work.

I’m so glad He called it work! It seems to go against everything in our self-reliant bodies. Independence is the ticket, right? Not for a follower of Christ. Dependence on Him, faith in God, is what is rewarded. And this trusting doesn’t come naturally. It takes effort. Energy.

Sometimes, too often, I don’t want to muster the energy. Stress and anxiety seem easier. Easier to let a mind run wild with the worry than to exercise discipline, to reign her in, slip the blinders on and train her to walk steady in certain assurance, not spooked by the specters looming ahead,” writes Ann Voskamp. I was just sharing with my husband how I daily have to stop my thought-train in its track and command a different route be taken. How my natural self runs to fret, worry, anxiety. But the Holy Spirit coaches me to put on the brakes and redirect my thoughts to Christ, to words of Truth.

trustAnd so, as you can see, my work is not finished. I have not completed this job. I continue on today in the work of trusting… and I will persist to the very end. Because it is the work I have been called to. The work of trusting. There is no other work quite like it. And while it certainly requires effort and energy, the reward is priceless! A peace that passes all understanding.

More of Him; less of me.

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You do not know what you are going to do;

the only thing you know is that

God knows what He is doing…

God does not tell you what He is going to do;

He reveals to you Who He is.

Oswald Chambers