doubt faith

The Tug of War for Faith

1:16 PMHeather

When I was a little girl, I was plagued by fear. As bedtime approached, my mind would imagine all sorts of things and falling asleep felt like an impossible chore. So, I slept with the night light turned on from my Winnie the Pooh lamp, and would listen to cassette tapes of Bible stories to try to usher in a restful sleep. I was fascinated by the stories of superhero Bible characters. And my imagination created a warped perception of faith.

Faith was a commodity to gain of super power proportions. It was a lofty goal that I either achieved or didn't, and it required I work harder to find the secret formula to earn it.

I saw faith as what killed giants like Goliath. Faith made lions sit in my company with mouths shut. Faith floated a massive ark to save all of mankind and animals through it's own actions. Faith made a giant whale spit you out on a dry beach. Faith was some magical power I yet to possess or grow sufficiently. Rather than grasp the God who did all those miraculous things, I attributed the accomplishment to man's own ability through faith.

About the only sermon of my dad's I can still remember was based on the stories of the people described in Hebrews 11. I can still remember thinking to myself that faith was an elusive skill I needed to jump through hoops to gain for myself. Faith was the absence of fear. Faith was a shiny and perfect trophy that felt just out of reach. Other people had it, and I admired it, as though they possessed some natural gift that I could not.

All these years later, I'm growing a healthier understanding of faith. I'm seeing that faith isn't a rare commodity of Biblical proportions. Faith is, instead, abiding at the feet of my Savior. Over and over and over again. Faith is thinking the truest things of God.

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Faith is a choosing, in every moment, to preach the truth of who God is to my soul. 

Faith is not an absence of fear, but rather a choice to keep walking forward through the fear. 

Faith is summarized in Psalms 42 and 43, where David honestly pours out his heart to God and laments his despairing and downcast soul. And then, he sings songs of commandment to his soul... "put my hope in God alone." It's rehearsing truths repeatedly, from the Bible and our own histories, to tell our feelings who's boss. It's fully admitting all we are feeling about that with which we are struggling and bowing before God to say, "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"

Faith says I don't see it yet, that for which I hope. But, I will choose in every moment of wrestling to put my confidence in God over myself and over my consequences. As many times as that takes.

Faith is not slaying giants. Faith is picking up stones in a riverbed and saying, "God, I will choose to walk through my fears and believe that you are bigger than Goliath." Faith is not shutting up lion's mouths. Faith is saying I will obey and bow before God alone, no matter what the threat is against me for doing so. Faith is not some magnificent and mammoth ark and an ability to gather all the animals. 

Faith is day after day, like Noah, doing the hard work, that seems ridiculous and unending simply because God said to keep going. It's remembering that God brought the animals to Noah, and that tells us that he gives us all that we need for that which he calls us. 

Faith is not being the boss over a whale, but faith is admitting when we've run away from obedience and bowing in repentance. Faith is back and forth, tugging and pulling, gaining ground and losing it, stumbling and falling, and getting back up again and again. Faith is messy and ragged and choosing to keep at it, no matter how we feel or what our circumstances tell us.

Faith is made up of imperfect moments and sketchy belief running repeatedly to a God we choose to believe is Perfect, even when life isn't.

And through this day-to-day choice to walk in faith and wrestle with our unbelief, ever turning to our God who knows us, we are witnesses to how he shows up in our every weakness.

Here's what Hebrews 11 tells us God does with these baby steps of choosing him in every circumstance through an honest relationship.

By faith, we can surrender all we have as an offering.

By faith, we seek to please him rather than seeking man's approval.

By faith, we choose to believe that he rewards those who seek him.

By faith, we take God at his words of warning.

By faith, we obey and go and keep going, even when we don't know the destination or outcome.

By faith, we live in these tents of our earthly bodies, remembering that the city to come is built by the Master Architect.

By faith, we believe God will make us fruitful despite what our circumstances say. 

By faith, we choose to take God at his promises and keep fighting through every doubt.

By faith, we never forget that we are merely aliens here on earth and what we see is actually only a temporary foreshadowing.

By faith, we long for and put all of our hope in the unseen better country, believing it is the ultimate reality.

By faith, we offer and surrender everything to God, in moment-by-moment wrestling when necessary.

By faith, we believe that he is the God of resurrection power who brings dead things back to life.

By faith, we bless our children to their futures that God has securely in hand.

By faith, we worship him until our dying days.

By faith, we believe God's deliverance for all future generations.

By faith, we fear God over man.

By faith, we choose to be a child of God and live as if we are loved by the God of the universe rather than giving in to the temporary pleasure of sin.

By faith, we believe and look to the reward that says disgrace for Christ is of greater value than earthly treasures.

By faith, we run away from our enemy and all dangers and move toward the Red Sea Roads.

By faith, we choose to place our trust in the Invisible God over the visible threats.

By faith, we put all of our faith and our very lives and eternity into the saving blood of Jesus.

By faith, we walk on dry roads with danger piled up on both sides, trusting that God's power and goodness will not allow the oceans to consume us.

By faith, we believe that he can crumble and demolish the walls we're walking around.

By faith, no matter our past or our status or our fears of man, we choose to hide ourselves in God's protection.

By faith, we believe that he can equip us to conquer kingdoms, administer justice, gain what's promised, be saved from lions, be rescued from fire, and escape the sword.

By faith, we believe that he can make our weaknesses become showcases of his strength.

By faith, we choose eternal rewards even in the face of torture.

By faith, we believe that the worst thing that might happen on earth will be far surpassed by the glory to come.

By faith, we believe that this world of wandering in deserts and caves is not worthy of comparison to the glorious eternal.  

By faith, we remember that all the promises will be fulfilled ultimately, although maybe not received on earth.

By faith, we throw all that we are and all that have at the choice to believe that what God has planned for us is something far better than we can imagine. 

By faith, we live as imperfect, messy, broken people knowing that all will be made right and holy in the presence of God and a kingdom to come.

This is what we preach to ourselves, over and over and over again. 

This is how we practice and rehearse a battered, imperfect faith that chooses to believe in an Almighty God. 

This is how we live faithfully in the "some time laters" -- in the in-betweens of life. 

This is how we live in the broken world with our limited selves and our constrained vision, because a scandalous grace made the eternity set into our hearts a reality that we can eagerly anticipate. 

This is how we choose to look at all that we see through the lens of the God of the unseen. When things are blurry and unclear.

By faith.

By repeatedly choosing. To stumble and fall and yet ever say to souls, God is able. But our God will. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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