Bear with me this time friends -- this is a long one for me :)
Faith is such a common word in our Christian language. I grew up hearing about it all the time, at home and in Sunday school, and until recently I thought I had a pretty good dose of it in my life. I think my understanding of what it means to have faith in God really was a definition much too small. I don't know what caused this sudden stirring afresh in me, but I have been challenged deeply to have greater and greater faith in my God. Maybe it's just the fact that the more I know him the bigger He is becoming.
I grew up praying a lot of prayers that were asking God for protection and asking him to be with me and my family - all true and sincere. I have known the Lord for a long time and walked closely with Him but this area of faith has honestly gone untouched without even realizing it. A few years ago, I began hearing stories of how others were seeing God move in incredible miraculous ways in their lives and I started asking myself why I wasn't experiencing God in this way. As this truth began to sink deeper into my soul I began to slowly pursue Jesus in a whole new way... asking him for things that ONLY God could do, things that were so far beyond my ability that in the end God and God alone could only get the glory.
To be completely honest, He didn't respond with great flashes of lightning or in miraculous signs and wonders... but he did begin changing my heart and shifting my mind to see him Greater. Friends, though He hasn't always responded in tangible ways my faith has increased and He is revealing himself anew as I have just said, "God I want to see a great move of YOU in my life and around me. I want to know this part of you that brings you great joy because of my great faith in you!" Hebrews 11: 5-6
I could tell you so many stories that have come since this change in my thinking but I want to share one specific and recent moment. Many of you that follow the band probably know of our great need for a van. When "Big Blue" went to automobile heaven a few months ago we knew that we were dependent on the Lord to provide. Thankfully our summer schedule happened to be quiet and we didn't really need for another van until the end of July. So we prayed and searched and prayed and asked and nothing was really happening. And my friends, this is when you can or at least I can start to feel like God doesn't really care about this stuff or that we already were blessed with a van and this time we needed to make it happen ourselves. The enemy is so good at messing with my mind... Still I kept fighting and putting it before God. I really wanted Him to have another opportunity to show up in our story!
I believe it was a Tuesday afternoon and we had about a month before we REALLY needed to have a van. I was driving around town just talking to the Lord and specifically about this situation. My heart was simple and just asked,"God we really don't need you to give us a van but we do need you to guide us. There are so many vans but would you just direct us to the right one. We don't need it to be free or anything, just the right one. We need your help in this God. It is beyond us." That was it. My heart was really trusting and confident! That night Stephen was sitting on the couch searching again and he told me he thought he might have found something.. It wasn't pretty or anything to write home about but it had low miles and looked to be in decent shape and a great price. (For those of you who don't know we have deemed Stephen as our transportation manager and we are so thankful for his knowledge in this area. Truly a gift from God!)
The next morning he called the number and the first words uttered on the other end were truly incredible. He barely had the chance to say hello before the guy on the other end told Stephen very directly that he was really praying this van would remain in ministry and that whoever had the van next would be able to keep using it to serve the kingdom. He went on to let us know that his son had struggled with addictions and it was purchased for a program to help him get his life back in order. Already this was enough to convince me that God was moving and providing in an amazing way! After the conversation Stephen was convinced that we needed to walk through this opened door.
Ben, Stephen and I traveled a few hours south to check out this potential new home on the road. To be honest, she was not a beautiful sight to behold as we pulled up the drive but we took her for a spin up and down the hills of a small middle of nowhere Indiana town. It just felt right and as we handed the money over we got the chance to hear a little more of his story. He told us that the night before, about the same time that I was praying, he was crying out to the Lord. They really needed the money and he was literally pleading with God to come through in a supernatural way. He started to tear up and you could see on his face that this whole situation was truly an answer to prayer for him too.
We had the chance to pray for this couple before we left that God would continue to bless them and use them to serve his kingdom. As we traveled home it all hit me how God not only answered my prayer and his, but more he used the whole circumstance to be a blessing in all of our lives. Isn't that God! So often I am not even aware of Him and I can't imagine all that I miss because I'm not asking, not seeking, unaware of His presence and movement all around me.
That verse that says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God," came rushing into my mind and the next few days I kept repeating it and meditating deeply on the simple but vast truth. Why is it so hard for me to have faith in God. I wish it was natural for me but I guess there in lies the challenge for us all. I love how this same verse reads in the message. It says (and may this really sink in)... "It's impossible to please God apart from faith. Any why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."
That part about believing that he will "respond to those who seek him" might be the hardest part for me. I struggle and have struggled with issues of self worth for as long as I can remember. It's just a place where the enemy knows I am weak. That being said sometimes I think I am convinced by lies that tell me God doesn't really care about this or don't bother him with that little issue or he has already blessed my life so much I should let him take a break on this one. But friends, I am CONVINCED more than ever that God DOES care and what He is after is not the specific requests or perfect prayers but He wants our confidence in Him. Friends, in the end God is after His glory and name going out into all the world. And how does that happen? FAITH! I believe faith is the greatest means for God to get the greatest glory for us and for those in our path.
Do we really trust Him to be all that He claims to be or are we content to just go about our self-centered lives and mediocrity that it often brings day in and day out? Or, are you ready for a life of true risky life altering FAITH? What abundance and joy is found in this kind of living!
I promise you, your days will change and your perspective will be dramatically different when we really begin to believe that our God is great and "able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we are able to ask, think or imagine and all to the GLORY of God!"
May your faith continue to you grow as you seek Him!