Over the last couple of months, I began thinking about my Christian faith in a way I have never done before. I have been a Christian for a long time, with the typical highs and lows that come with the seasons of the soul. I know that is normal, yet I found myself wanting more that these highs and lows…I want stability. When life sends me a zinger, something that gets me down, I want my faith buoyed and sustained as I find in the lives of the writers of the Psalms, for instance, or John, Peter and Paul who faced so many hardships and difficulties in the first century AD.
So about three months ago, I began writing down short, simple statements that begin with “I believe, therefore….” as a way of trying to be truthful about not just what I say I believe, but what I actually believe, and how I should respond to the beliefs I hold. Here is an example:
I believe God provides, therefore I will not allow my emotions to rule over me when
times are difficult. Instead I will choose to trust and display faith and confidence
in God’s provision.
This is just one of several statements I have written in my journal. I know I will not be able to follow these convictions perfectly…I have lived for many years with doubt and rebellion, and I won’t be able to eradicate these tendencies overnight. Yet with practice, empowered by the Holy Spirit, I am certain that I can make great strides.
Going through this exercise, I became acutely aware that my ability to act on my beliefs boils down to how much I trust the One at the foundation of the statements themselves. Do I really trust God to provide for my needs in times of trouble? What I realized next was revolutionary to me—like many believers, I find it easier to trust God for my salvation than for my day-to-day needs, and my ability to trust God for my day-to-day needs is almost fully dependent upon the relationship I have with God. Wouldn’t you agree that it is easier to trust someone you know as opposed to a stranger? The same is true with God, who wants to be friend, brother, “husband” and guide, yet all too often is left in the dust of my initial salvation experience.
In our instant society we want a quick means for building a relationship with God. Like Samantha in the 1960s TV show Bewitched, we want to twitch our noses to gain the deep spiritual communion we Christians desire. But we all know it doesn’t work that way. God Himself seems to prefer the slow path to relationship, knowing I suppose that what is desired and prayed over in earnest (yea, sometimes in sweat and tears) yields a lasting, more satisfying and mature relationship in the end.
The other side of this coin is that life is far too hectic, with too many demands and way too little time. How can we spare any more? That is the subject of hundreds, probably thousands of books and articles over the centuries…I can only speak to my own experience. When I devote time (carved out of my own busy schedule, leaving other things undone) for God and His Word – make Him the focus of my attention for a few minutes each and every day – my relationship grows just like any earthly relationship would, and I am infused with the trust needed to rely on God’s promises for my life.
As a friend told me just a few days ago, everyone has to come to the decision to spend time alone with God on their own. So true…the only way a decision like that can be genuine is if we own it ourselves. Yet here I sit, encouraging you to do just that in 2014.