I'm finishing up leading a 5 week study with my churches youth group on Apologetics. The first 4 weeks have been on dealing with questions like "Why Is There Suffering In The World" "Can Science and Faith Co-Exist" and "Why Is Jesus The Only Way." Most of these talks have been on truth, evidence and the logic behind what we believe as Christ followers. In the final session we are dealing with the topic of what faith really is?
For years I was told faith and spiritual maturity was gaining more spiritual knowledge, understanding scripture and knowing my beliefs. I thought that the more certain I was about scripture, the closer I was growing to God. Many followers need this constant study as a security blanket for their faith, I know this helps me stay on track.
But what happens when we experience life circumstances that do not line up with our beliefs?
When a faithful woman prays for years for a child only to have miscarriage after miscarriage.
God is good but why do massacres like Sandy Hook Elementary happen? Why did innocent children need to be killed?
When you faithfully tithe for years and give to your church only to be furloughed or lose your job?
Yes, we live in a fallen world and sin is real.
But what do we do when these types of circumstances and life experiences defy our scriptural logic and faith?
What do you say to the great husband and father who spent years volunteering at church and giving his life to Christ only to have his wife die of cancer?
I believe that true faith and spiritual maturity happen when our faith answers Yes even when we don't have an understanding of what God is doing in our lives. In the New Testament, Paul had every reason to doubt God. He spent years being faithful, preaching and becoming one of the most prolific evangelists for Christ only to be rewarded with persecution, shipwrecks, beatings and imprisonment. Just as many of the early Christians were martyred for their faith.
Maybe it's because we try to interpret God's character through our life circumstances and experiences and then try to fit our faith into that conceptual box. When we should be interpreting our lives through God's character and having unconditionally faith that God has a plan?
When Paul was imprisoned and writing to Timothy, he didn't talk about WHAT he believed - a system or theology of rules to measure the truth. He didn't have bulletproof, irrefutable evidence before he trusted God. Paul walked by Faith not by sight.
Paul didn't say I know what I believe. Paul said I know WHO I believe. I know who HE is.
Awesome Faith and Spiritual Maturity is not greater understanding of the word and our beliefs but unashamed confidence and trust in God regardless of our life circumstances. This faith is shown through a unquenchable love, grace and empathy towards everyone and lived out in our daily lives and actions.
If you have to know everything and have all your questions answered before you trust in the Lord, we will never have this type of awesome faith. We just have to start, step forward and trust in His plan. Trust that God has the wheel. That's easy to write but hard to live.
Sadly and authentically, I admit that I struggle with this issue myself. Circumstances come up in life where I wish I could just forget about my fears, my finances and my doubts and just walk forward in crazy, awesome faith. It's easy to surrender all the bad areas of our lives to Christ and become renewed but what happens when we're asked to surrender our lives in areas that are going really well: our careers, our financial security or our retirement plans?
What happens when we plan, commit and move in one direction only for God to pull at our hearts and lead us in another?
Maybe this makes sense or maybe it's just me rambling over yet another triple mocha?
I've met some people with this Awesome Faith and I wish I had it.
If you have any ideas or stories, I'd love to hear them.