For the past year, I feel like God has been really challenging my faith. In essence, I’ve been challenged with questions such as “Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I really believe God is who He says He is?” And not only that, but “Do I believe I am who God says I am?”
For so long, I have been faithless. Not faithless in a sense that I’m disloyal, but faithless in a sense that I’ve lost faith in God’s ability and my ability through Him. I lost faith in what He clearly says in His Word. I realized that everything I did, while they may have been “good” things, were really things that I could do on my own apart from Him-nothing I did really caused me to go beyond my ability into His ability. Yeah, I could work hard and maybe had talents that others might not have, but a lot of that can just come through hard work, practice, or might be said to be a hereditary trait. Anybody can come up with something to give to those in need, save their first kiss for their spouse, tithe, keep a nice house, etc. Although with young kids, the whole keeping a nice house is a little easier said than done. 😉 Anybody can even pray for the sick. Honestly, none of those things really require faith.
However, to speak healing over someone requires faith. To believe that I am the bride of Christ when I have been so faithless requires faith. To believe that I am dead to sin and alive to God requires faith. To believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for my sins, but all power over sickness and death was handed to Him and that He later handed all that authority to us requires faith. I could go on and on. I read today how He didn’t just say or rather, command us to pray for the sick, He told us to heal the sick. By the way, in those verses, He also tells us to raise the dead. Talk about requiring faith!
Like any good parent, God doesn’t do everything for His children, but rather equips us and gives us the tools we need to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Yes, there are boundaries and rules just like in any loving household, because there are consequences when rules are broken. For instance, having a rule to not touch the stove top, is not to keep a kid from fun, but rather to protect them from being burned. A toddler might not understand that, but the older they get, the more understanding they’ll have. It would be unloving to just watch them do that without saying anything! However, it’s a sad state when the church speaks more about the rules and what not to do than about the loving Father behind those rules.
Colossians 2:20-23 says:
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
When I was younger, I was fairly dramatic-ok, so not much has changed. 😉 As with most kids, there were many times I questioned my parents’ love for me, yet was given a lot of chores. I did them and would later write in my diary how I felt like they only had kids to be their slaves (pretty humorous and yet humbling to read my old journal entries). My mom used to even boast that she didn’t have just one dishwasher, but five and then would state our names. I was taught to do different things because they were the right thing to do. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helps an attitude to know the love behind those commands. Many people aren’t able to realize that until they have kids of their own.
I remember when God first really made Himself known to me, I started asking my older sister to use the restroom and maybe bring a book in with her, then would try to surprise her with doing all of her dishes. My older brother used to pay me to clean his horrific room in the basement, yet after God touched my life (I’ll go into more detail in another post), I remember trying to give what little money I had to clean his room just to bless him. I know what you’re thinking, what a sister! 😉 I remember wanting to do everything unto God and I truly loved blessing people. I remember standing at the kitchen sink trying to envision Jesus coming into our house and wanting to clean and make things nice for Him. Talk about a major change in my life and attitude! What used to seem like slavery became a way of worship!
However, it wasn’t until I realized just how much God loved me-silly old me with my dramatic attitude, and that He cared about even the little things in my life! His love for me entirely melted my perception of Him and of life. Rules no longer seemed burdensome and I knew He gave me my parents and wanted what was best for me even when I didn’t always understand or feel it from my parents.
Like most people, I’ve had things happen in my life that has led me to question God’s goodness. I think it’s interesting that when the serpent spoke to Eve, he didn’t say that God didn’t say to eat of the fruit. That was an obvious lie. He knew the rule was there and he knew Eve knew the rule (though obviously she didn’t entirely know it as she said God said to not eat or touch of it, when he only said to not eat of it), but he knew he could get her to question the reason God gave her the rule. He knew he could get her to question God’s goodness. Breaking the command might have been the sin, but what led to her sinning was questioning God’s goodness and thinking He was holding out on her.
Recently, I was led to read Matthew 7:9-11 that says:
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Within less than a week, 2 other people shared that same verse with me! I knew then that God really wanted me to read it! It’s caused me to start hoping again when I pray. I know it may seem silly, but for a long time I had grown so disappointed with God and His answering of my prayers that while I may have asked at times, I wasn’t truly able to do it in faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done from faith is sin. It saddens me that I had been sinning so long without even realizing it. I started building on a foundation that God maybe didn’t want to heal everybody, maybe He didn’t want to answer every prayer, yet when I read in the Bible, not once did Jesus turn anybody away who asked of Him in faith. Not once did He not heal someone who knew all He did was have to say a word or if they could just touch His garment, they would be healed. It was the Pharisees around Him who said that the people’s sickness or blindness was a result of their sin and that God was trying to punish them, not Jesus. He doesn’t teach people lessons by striking them with sickness, disease, or blindness. Obviously, those can sometimes be natural consequences for certain actions and He may allow them (and promises to redeem them for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose), but it’s Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus came to give life abundantly!
What I find even more mind-boggling is that Jesus told us that we would be able to do even greater things than that-even greater than someone touching His garment and being healed, even greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, even greater than calming the storm. Sometimes I think I’ve always pictured Jesus as a super human in a way-not in the sense that I thought He looked like what we perceive a superhero in movies, but in a sense that He could do anything He wanted to do. Yet, even He says that He had no power in Himself, and only does what He sees the Father doing. I think sometimes we think it’s heresy to believe that. Yet, God says that those who are born of the Spirit of God, are not only children of God, but heirs, and that Jesus would be the first among many brethren. God’s word requires faith. He didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but to make us heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory! When are we going to allow God to adopt us as His sons and daughters? When are we going to believe His Word? All of creation is longing for it!