Trusting like Abraham

The reality of faith is one that is, ironically, scary.  To trust is to give up control to someone else.  When I trust myself, I plan & determine & try to control the outcome.  Faith in Christ means I don’t always know what He’s going to do, where He’s going to lead or how He’s going to provide.

We like faith when we’re comfortable.  It makes for a great story line.  But when we are called to enter that story line & to step out in faith, we get a different perspective.

Abraham is certainly one who sets a great example of trusting.   In Genesis 22 we see that He willingly trusted God with his only son Isaac, even when what God called him to seemed absolutely ridiculous.  And by this point in Abraham’s life, there was no questioning when it was God who was giving him direction.  I love Abraham’s faith, but what I love even more is how God provided.  God required a sacrifice and yet He ended up providing the sacrifice Himself…

11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

I often want God to send me an email with explicit instructions, yet it is usually after we’ve stepped out in faith that we see God come through.  More and more I realize that faith is often the place where I will completely fall on my face unless God steps in.  May we find Him faithful today.

Jesus who?

When you were a kid, did you get to see flannel board Jesus?  Or maybe you’ve seen Jesus and His disciples piously captured in stained glass?  For many of us, these were our first impressions of who Jesus is, a nice guy, who healed people, taught good things and wanted us to love our neighbor.   But in reality, there is so much more to this man who proclaimed Himself to be God.

Today, Christ is portrayed as a good teacher, someone who wants to help us be better people and who taught us to love other people.  Yet, when I read what He said about Himself, about people, and about what He requires of His followers, I am reminded that He is so much more than a “nice guy”.  After all, a nice, passive guy wouldn’t so infuriate the religious leaders that he would end up suffering the same punishment as the worst criminals.

I’ve been reading some of Josh McDowell’s writings and I’m seeing things for the first time all over again.  I’m being reminded that following Christ isn’t about making my life “better”.  Jesus is not a spiritual version of Tony Robbins.  Rather, He calls me to a life that isn’t about what I want but about what He wants.  As a whole, I think we’ve lost sight of the idea of God’s kingdom.  God’s form of government is a monarchy, not a democracy.  He has called us to a life of  “followership”.  So the question for me/us is this: do I really believe what He says about Himself?  and if I do, am I following Him?  Do I trust Him?  Do I obey Him?

Over the past year, I’ve been moved out of my comfort zone.  God has brought me to a place of truly needing to trust Him for a variety of things.  Things that have been a source of security have been removed.  And so I’ve been brought to a place of either trusting God (for real, practical things, not just in an esoteric, out there, religous kind of way).  And I struggle, because following means I’m not in control.  Following means that I may not know how things will be taken care of.  It means trusting & depending on God to do what He said He would do.  For either He is God, and therefore He will do what He said, or He isn’t, and I am a fool for following and believing.

Thankfully, God has always shown Himself faithful to His promises.   I do struggle between faith and doubt, often sliding from one edge to the other on any given day, but I’m holding on, for as Peter said in John 6:68-69 , “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. ”

I share all of this, not because I’m standing on the other side, fully accomplished in the following and trusting, but because I’m living in the middle of life, trying to better know who Christ is, trying to really understand what it means to follow in faith.  Thankfully Christ steps off of the Sunday school flannel boards and the stained glass windows and into the mess of real life.  I pray that you’ll find some encouragement in these rambles.

On a different note (pun intended)…I’ve been listening to “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman (lead singer for Switchfoot).  It’s a great song that’s been challenging me (it’s based on Matthew 6).  You may want to check it out.

Worried?

image

It’s hard not to be anxious, especially when we listen to the news.  And even if things on a national level are enough to evoke concern, there’s usually something to be concerned about in our everyday lives.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Something I’ve been reminded of in the past week or so is this: God is God.  This might sound overly simplistic at first, but trust me, it’s incredibly deep.  When we experience Him at a heart level, we can see that we have no reason to be worried.  When we stop and rest in His presence, when we become overwhelmed by Him, all the things that would cause us angst suddenly seem a lot less intimidating.  For there in His presence we see how big He is, How awesome His power and consequently, how small we are.  But it’s in this humbling place that we get our perspective restored (see Job 42:5).

And specifically regarding worry, Christ tells us not worry about tomorrow because: it hasn’t happened yet (James 4), He already knows our needs (Matt 6) and each day has enough trouble of it’s own (Matt 6).  I’m learning about this in regards to several things in my own life and I’m realizing (albeit slowly) that my worrying won’t make a bit of difference.  God is still in control, and though I may not like what He’s doing or allowing, He will use it to accomplish something good (Rom 8 ) and will use it to shape me more into His image (Heb 12). 

May we find rest and strength in His presence (Ps 91).