Keep the faith! People have said those words to me over the years.
I guess for most of my life I have thought, ... "and just HOW do I do that?" Keep the faith? What faith? I have known people who I thought "had" great faith ... but I sure wasn't one of them. Most of them were wrinkled. And IF they weren't seriously wrinkled ... well, they were really quiet praying kinda people. People with faith, ... I guess I have always thought that flies never landed on them. You know, those dear wrinkled souls ... never really seemed to have any serious problems.
By nature, (OK, I think I am getting over some of this) I am and have always been a control freek. I hate change. Not even Obama has been able to make change sound good for me. Change SUCKS! I remember to this day the trama of seeing my oldest daughter after her first haircut. It's weird! How am I going to get used to that?
Well, we had five "wild" (generally speaking) kids in comparison to many families we knew ... but our kids are no where near as wild as I was (at least that I know about ... and believe me, I don't want to know about it either). So, we saw our fair share of change.
I can tell you countless stories of having to deal with REAL change in our world. Some really BIG stuff! Not just haircuts! Our kids were absolutely darling! I mean I love them to death and am very proud of them all ... but I can tell you other stories of years of pure "HELL" that my wife and I survived trying to be parents without a good clear cut manual. Sometimes we lived in terror of things coming apart at the seams. Those years changed us forever. Now we can laugh (a bit) at the past.
I think everybody experiences the kinds of things that change our worlds and our thinking. We don't experience the same stuff ... but our worlds change in different ways. It's all tough to deal with ... we just get different stuff to carry. I know people that have gone through the turmoil of divorce and the splitting up of their family. I know others that have lost children by disease and sudden tradgedy. I know of joblessness, homelessness and of others who were and seemingly ARE utterly alone in the world. I have known of so many horrible things that are real life changers. I'm sure you do too!
Where is faith in all of these trials? Where is God? Doesn't He care? Why is this happening to me? Is God getting some kind of pleasure watching me suffer? If there is a God, ... is He good? Or is He powerless to change things? Can He hear me? GOD, ... DO YOU HEAR ME NOW? I am calling out to you ... and I need to know you are there and that you at least hear me. Will you please talk to me and tell me what to do?
Have you ever wondered these things ... or shouted them from a hilltop into the starry night?
Perhaps, you don't believe there is a God at all. I understand that! And I have questioned what I believe countless times.
Faith? What is faith? And exactly how do I "keep the faith" that I can't fully grasp? Some of you hate reading these words. Perhaps, you may not even want to know if there is a God. Maybe you think ... if you don't fully understand that there is a God ... you won't be held accountable for sticking your head in the sand to avoid Him.
Some of you are searching for God. I believe that God is desperately searching to get through to you and yet you might feel like He is hiding or running from you every time you get close. Try praying this (without any predetermnined ideas on what or who God IS). Pray, ... God if you really are out there ... help me to really find you. Every time you wonder if He is there or if He really cares for you, ... pray that!
Faith? Mine never grew that much when I was young or when our kids were young. The truth is ... if my wallet could solve the problem ... I found that my faith had little opportunity to grow. I think faith can only grow when you remove yourself (or God removes you) from the equation so that you have to allow God to take control. I rarely ever had the guts to do that. So, I had and still have a somewhat retarded faith so to speak! I think those wrinkled faces I have seen were probably owned by people who struggled with their faith when they were younger too. I believe they learned to be faithful from lessons that they were given that were far too big for their wallets or any other resources to solve. I believe it is quite possible that they were forced to wait upon God because they could do nothing to solve their problems by themselves.
Have you ever experienced having a problem so big that you could not solve it? If you haven't ... I believe it is really difficult to have deep rooted faith. You likely lack faith wrinkles, which is OK, but life is not likely going to grant you that forever. The absence of wrinkles doesn't mean you don't have faith. It just means it hasn't had the opportunity to really grow. I'm saying, ... I think if you win the lottery every week ... it's a lot harder to need God ... and I think it's a lot more difficult for your faith to be stretched.
Have you ever seen a huge problem solved by God's hand? OH, ... I sure haven't arrived when it comes to being a "man of faith". I am not even close, ... though I think I am becoming a bit more weathered (wrinkled) every day. The Bible teaches us that "Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
Have you ever felt you needed a sign from God that He even heard your prayers? I sure have. I wished that I could have those signs every day. It would have made the days a lot easier.
Remember the story of Thomas the disciple after the resurrection of Jesus? (See John 20)
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
You know, Judas of course is considered the worst of the disciples but Thomas wears that "doubting Thomas" label because of this account. What a slouch! Thomas you are such a loser! Oh wait, ... that's me too! So many times I have to see things in order to believe or to have faith. I am often a doubting Thomas. Is that you too? Maybe you won't even believe in Christ ... because He won't die on the cross for you this year and rise from the dead so you can see it for yourself and have it reported in your local paper. We all doubt. We all lack faith.
I want signs that God hears me everyday. Isn't that a form of doubt too? Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus is talking about you and me here. If you believe in Christ, you had to do it without seeing the evidence Thomas was given. That means you need greater faith in one sense and you are blessed. Maybe It doesn't please God that I am always looking for a sign of His presence. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. If it takes a daily morning video conference call with God for me to be convinced He cares and that He hears me ... how much faith do I really have in Him?
Waiting on the Lord and letting Him provide answers in His timing takes greater faith. Those wrinkled men and women of faith I have seen were likely shaped by the times in which they had no other choice but to wait for answers and see God provide in His way. But they were also shaped by accepting the answers that were provided. I guess I think the wrinkled people have spent more time being observers to what God is doing rather than being control freeks trying to do it themselves. They pray more and worry less. They pray BIG things that they know only God could possibly do. I admire them. I hope that one day I will be counted among them.
Faith? That's for old people! And for me.
Have a great day. It's great to be home ... even though it snowed again.