“…so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:5 (NIV)
There’s a crisis, actually a series of them, going on in our lives. In the midst of these, daily things happen that seem to augment the circumstances. For example, today the refrigerator broke down again and we had to scramble to work it out without the usual tools. And then the washer ran for two hours before I realized something was wrong; it wasn’t draining which meant wringing out the clothes and taking them to a friend’s to spin out the excess water before putting them in my dryer. This week alone it’s been one thing after another that has caused strife and grief and anger and uncertainty and pain and more emotions than I can name, all jumbled one upon another, never getting to a point a peace before the next something jumps in and lays claim to my thoughts, or actions, or intentions. The actual crises are not little things; they are life altering. It’s the little things, however, that seem to take charge, probably because those are things that have to be dealt with immediately. What’s interesting is that in both the crises and the annoyances, my faith is tested. Not my faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, but my faith in getting myself through these things, big and small. I wonder how I will I breathe through one more minute, how I will take the next step, how will I solve this issue or that one. I run the gamut of self-doubt, self-condemnation, and become for a moment paralyzed by my fears. Then I run around like crazy trying to do whatever I can to resolve whatever is happening. It’s exhausting.
As I was writing a note for my son to take with him when he deploys, one of the life altering events, I was scrolling through devotionals and caught where someone had written that the difference between troubles encountered by Christians and non-Christians is that our hope rests in the Lord. Our trust is that nothing comes to us unless it is filtered first through His loving, all knowing, purposeful hand, and that whatever the circumstances, He is sovereign, He is good, and He will deliver us in His way, in His time, and by His grace when we surrender and turn to Him. And sometimes the deliverance isn’t what we expect it to be. Sometimes its far removed from our own plans, or wants. Sometimes it brings joy, sometimes it brings sorrow. Our hope is He will see us through it, no matter what it is. But how that can test us! I think it takes more courage to surrender control of our lives to the Lord than to keep putting out the fires in our lives. I think it takes more strength to say “I have no idea where this will end, but I know You do, Lord” than to do our best to manipulate things, and people, in order to get what we want. We’re told to go toward the goal, but the goal that aligns with His word is the one we are to focus on. Sometimes I think our fears cloud the vision of the goal, or the path to take to get us there. Letting go of self is hard, letting go of fears is hard, and learning to trust both the big and small to Jesus tests us, tests our faith
Maybe that’s part of faith building, though. Our pastor has been teaching about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s faith, confidence, calmness and choices in not compromising their loyalty to the Lord through the most difficult, and absolutely terrifying, situations with King Nebuchanezzar. How they put their faith in God with small things at first and built upon that so that when the fire came, they were prepared. I turned on the radio a few nights ago and listened to a different pastor talk about their incredible faith. I don’t believe this is a coincidence – I believe God is trying to tell me something in the examples of these four young men. I covet that kind of faith. What would it be like to trust God so explicitly with every large and small and terrifying thing? What would it be like to have so much confidence in God’s sovereignty that even when thrown, bound, into the fire, they calmly surrendered to it? Then I wonder about the different fires we all face. How many of us go in confidence, calmly, and choose to not compromise our faith by trying so hard, of our own will, to get ourselves out of that fire? Are we defeated by the heat, or do we look up, as they did, and keep our eyes on the Master? Do we always believe that His power is greater than our troubles, our doubts, our fears, our circumstances, and even our feelings?
Do we really put our faith to the test, or to the side while we work our way out of the fire, one sloshing bucket of water at a time? Often the fires are things beyond our control yet we seek to control them. How silly is that? I wonder if God looks down and says, “Patti, are you serious? This is me, God. That little bucket is nothing! I created whole oceans!” What we really need to do is stand still in the midst of the fire and look up. I fight fires on my knees, sending prayers up. Often with tears and I wonder how God can keep count of them. I pray for that confidence, that calmness, that strength and discernment to make choices that don’t compromise my faith. I pray to have the courage to surrender even though it hurts. I pray to have the trust of a child in knowing that no matter where my Father in Heaven takes me, it is good. And I pray for my son who goes to face the fires of war, that he is covered by the righteous right hand of the all powerful Lord Jesus who called Sam to be a Marine. Jesus, I pray to trust you more and more in all these fires. I’m tossing in the bucket, Lord. Help me to stand still and keep my eyes on You.