Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ... And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1,6)
This verse has been playing in my mind for a few days now, and it's really the point of this bit of rambling. I am called to live by faith, period. I am called to believe that God exists and rewards those who earnestly seek him. That includes me. No matter what I have done, where I have been, or how I feel about myself, God responds to my search for Him. Not only does He respond, but He rewards me.
How does He reward me? Of course, with eternal life. But that's not all. He also knows that I am in need of His intervention here, and He gives it. I am to cast all my cares on Him, not just the "spiritual" ones. If I need a job, I'm supposed to ask. If I am lonely, I'm supposed to tell Him. If I'm sick, I'm supposed to come to Him for healing. Not just because I need to feel better and enjoy life, but because these things enable me to do His will, to live according to His purposes for my life.
Praise the LORD , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:2-6)
This seems pretty obviously to speak about rewards in this lifetime. And if God says it, faith requires that I believe it.
Here's where it's been a bit hazy for me. It's "easy" to say, "If this is Your will..." or "I claim this in the name of Jesus..." It's much harder to say, "This is what I want and I'm asking for it, but I will yield to Your will." And it's hardest sometimes to say, "I know Your will is this and I want to do it, but this is standing in the way," because facing His will requires complete faith. It requires acting in ways that go entirely against what I see. It means sending those resumes if I find a job that is within His purpose whether or not I think I will get it. It means initiating friendships whether or not I think the effort will be returned. It means getting up and going to church even if I didn't sleep well. ...
I've been meaning to go to church with Christy ever since I stopped going to the other church. I've had migraines every week, and this past week I've had one every day. I had considered the possibility that there might be a spiritual warfare component to this, particularly because my depression has been getting so much worse. So Friday night I decided that it was time to pray. The migraines weren't just a nuisance now. They were destroying my life on all fronts.
Yesterday I didn't have a migraine. But last night a bad storm kept me up for about an hour and a half. I was really glad for a good day, and I was actually mad about the storm keeping me up last night. But I also knew that in a way it was a challenge--not a test, but a nudge of sorts. I needed to go this morning, even if I was tired and even if I was afraid. It mattered in the grand scheme of things. It mattered because it was an issue of faith.
The pastor started out by talking about the definition of freedom. The world equates freedom with absence of consequences and responsibility. But what is freedom in Christ?
I've been feeling a lot of condemnation lately. Look at all these things I've done, people I've hurt, etc. But what is freedom in Christ? It is the state of being unhindered by the stigma of whatever is in my past. When I live bound to that stigma, I am a slave to all that is in my past. I am a slave to sin--not only mind but also the sin of people who sin against me. But in Christ I am a new creature. I am transformed--and this is a daily transformation. His mercies are new every morning! So why am I living as a slave to my human failures? This just keeps me from receiving and experiencing all that He wants to give me--I'm too busy conforming to the image of my past, and that certainly doesn't let me live within His purpose for my life! And I'm wasting an awful lot of time doing this every day!
I talked to the pastor after the service about my fears of being the lone initiator of friendships. I'm still kind of reeling about his response. I wish someone had said this to me a very long time ago--it probably would have made a huge difference in some of my church experiences, at least in my perception that I could trust leaders. He said, "You initiate, and I'll pray that people will respond." What a concept! It makes me feel a lot better about the idea of taking those steps because I know that it isn't all up to me to make it work. Someone knows what I need and actually believes that prayer can make it happen.
I think this is long enough for now. I'm very glad I went this morning. And now I'm going to go have a good night's sleep.