Faith! Faith! Faith! Why so much about faith? I know I’ve focused quite a bit on the topic through my last several posts, but not because I feel I am highly advanced in my ability to trust God. In many ways faith has never come easily for me and I continue to have my struggles in various forms. Don’t get me wrong—I have no trouble believing in the existence of God and resting in many of His promises. It’s just those certain few areas that I continue to find most challenging. Perhaps you can relate.
There was a time years ago when I suspected a high level of unbelief in my heart, but couldn’t bring myself to admit my addiction to doubt. Anything less than perfect faith would have been equivalent to weakness—the dreaded enemy of any red-blooded western Pennsylvania male.
It’s been said that most people embrace change only when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. Such was unquestionably the case with me. When I could no longer stand myself, I finally approached God’s throne of grace and confessed that I was a bag of unbelief.
Gazing into the rearview mirror of my life, I can’t see any dramatic fireworks at that given moment, but I can say that it was one of the most significant milestones I have ever experienced. Since that time I’ve discovered two very important truths: faith is integral to every aspect of Christianity; most people, especially those in the Western church, are Addicted to Doubt. Regardless of how much we profess to trust God, our innumerable struggles with fear and anxiety (and a whole host of sins) tell a different story.
From the outside looking in, it may appear to some folks that I’ve tried to convince myself that God can be trusted. Actually that approach never worked well for me. Instead I found honesty and a willingness to face my struggles to be a much more powerful vehicle for change. In other words, I simply put myself in a position where God could do the painstaking work of transformation in me. Honesty, transformation and trust—they all go hand in hand when it comes to breaking free from the chains that bind us.
Similar to trees, our branches go up and our roots go down, but the unseen growth of the roots is what seems to take so long. For me the pattern has been fairly consistent. A difficult situation arises in my life. I try to stand on God’s word and trust His promises, but struggle in the process. I present my shortcomings to Him, while still seeking to stand on His promises. In the end, my heavenly Father works out the details and bestows almost mystical blessings. I say “mystical” because I’m often at a loss for words when it comes to the depth of His work and the measure of His favor—all in spite of my weakness.
Armed with a deeper measure of trust, I lift my gaze and see a somewhat larger challenge appearing on the horizon . . . . The end result of this cycle is continued growth, but the process is rarely fast and never resembles a neatly wrapped fruit basket adorned with ribbons and bows. Growing in faith can be messy!
Congruent with the growth of my faith in God has been the development of both my practical and theological understanding of the importance of faith. Over the next few posts I plan to highlight what faith is and what it isn’t, and to share an understanding of several very real reasons why living by faith is non-negotiable when it comes to Christian living. It really is that important! In these tumultuous times we can no longer afford to be Addicted to Doubt!
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NASB)