Nothing worth having ever comes easy, or cheap for that matter. When you live life with all of who you are it requires great risk and discomfort.
A year ago I set out seeking greater faith, but I was not ready for the journey and the work it would require of me. I wasn’t ready for the sacrifices or the pain. I wanted faith gifted to me. I wanted to muster it up from behind all my defenses. I wanted to control the process. I wanted it to take away all the fear, guilt, shame and anger I felt and, to my shame, acted out towards those closest to me. I wanted God to change me without doing any of the real work that would be required of me.
Jesus is not about a victim mentality. He points us to where we need to own our lives.
John5:6 “Do you want to get well?”
I wanted faith on the cheap. I wanted to keep all the things I was holding on to and gain faith. I wanted Jesus the Savior, the miracle healer, but not the Lord.
Genuine faith does not come cheap, it comes at a cost.
“Because Jesus did not suffer and die so that we could build for ourselves havens, but so that we might expand the kingdom of His love.” – Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way
When the time came, I chose faith, but even in this choice there was an expectation of a clean return. In my heart, although broken, I was still proud and entitled. “God, I give it all to you, but this means you will give it back right?” The answer that came back was a resounding, “No.” He had more work in-store, and if I was willing, He would take me deeper.
Ps37: 23-24 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
This is where the real journey began. I didn’t set out on my journey wanting to gain deep convictions, or even be transformed. Amidst it all, I just wanted to survive it. I wanted more faith, but in my mind this equated to more strength, to relinquish control but keep the things I held most dear. He had greater plans than I did. I had to learn that God’s seeming lack of cooperation with my plan did not equate to Him lacking love for me.
Is 50:7 “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.”
He would teach me to respect myself, heal from my past and stop hustling for my worth. God healed my image of who He was and showed me how to mourn and forgive my past so I could embrace the present instead of living in constant fear of the future. He taught me how to suffer righteously and make Jesus Lord of every aspect of my life, including my heart. After all, how could I submit to and honored an imperfect man when I didn’t trust and submit to Jesus, the perfect lover of my soul, nor knew how to love myself.
God taught me how to submit to Him when it’s uncomfortable or painful, to do the right and righteous thing, not out of obligation or allegiance to Christ, but out of the overflow of trust in His unfathomable love for me. It is this love for which his disciples were willing to be crucified upside down, it is this loving Lord whose commands are trustworthy.
2Cor12:7-9 “[…] Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Trials put my faith and God on trial. They force me to ask, “Can I continue to believe?” They test my confidence in God. But ultimately they do produce persevering faith if I let them.
Convictions are tried and tested by fire. It’s when my deepest fears get triggered that I have a choice, to react and respond out of the flesh and my strength (what I feel) or respond out of God’s truth – by Faith.
“Jesus did not come to save us from pain and suffering but from meaninglessness.” Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way
Adversity does not equate to God being absent. I have no idea what hangs in the balance when I choose to be faithful in the face of pain. It was months before God allowed me to see how He would use my pain to comfort others and for others’ salvation.
Things won’t turn out the way I think they should, but God’s plan always goes ahead of mine and He does not leave my story unfinished. It may not look as I expected it, but my story is His story and His story is epic. It takes me doing my part and leaning into the discomfort. It means taking the hard way. Jesus faced the ultimate pain and adversity to create a path for me to be redeemed. His ways never fail us, even when they make us uncomfortable.
Is 50:7 “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame”
The below verse from Psalm119 popped up in my social media newsfeed recently. I had posted it about a year ago. It made my stomach churn when I saw it.
Psalm 119:32 “I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free!”
I posted this verse then but hadn’t embraced its truth. I desperately wanted the freedom it promised but lacked the faith in action to claim it for myself. Yet, by God’s grace I claim this freedom now and it is amazing.
“The closer we walk with Christ, the greater the faith required. The more you trust Him, the more you’ll risk on his behalf. The more you love Him, the more you will love others. If you genuinely embrace His sacrifice, you will joyfully embrace a sacrificial life. […] your expectations of Jesus will change as your intimacy with Him deepens.” – Erwin Raphael McManus , The Barbarian Way