Faith. Some people think it is reserved for simple minded people who just cannot cope in the world and need the comfort. I disagree. For me faith is wrenching and soul bearing. Requiring me to crawl up on my cross and die to self for His glory. And many days difficult; requiring constant surrender. Sometimes tearing at the core of my very existence until I feel like I cannot cope at all. But in the Kingdom of God even that which seems painful and requires sacrifice is meant for our joy. Our delight. Our refinement. Our fulfillment. Our good. Faith requires that we dive into to that which we cannot see in the day to day. That which at times feels far away or alludes description but that is real. Realer than we know. But as I learn to trust with everything I am learning hope does abound. Spills over even..
During my week of lessening the noise and things that fight for my attention and allegiance I struggled to chisel a place in my heart and mind. If I am honest I wanted a distraction. I craved them. The immediate to occupy my time so that I could just exist and function instead of rely and listen and be. I do not think I am alone in this. We humans like to stuff ourselves full of life, full of to-do’s, full of making ourselves important and needed, full of perceived happiness caught in snapshots that we lose sight of our Creator and Savior sometimes. We make up too much of our path on our own with only occasional muttered “thank you” or “could you fix this?” prayers. I am learning more about what it means to be a new creation; replacing the old with the new. Thankfully He met me in that place.
The first morning of our week in the dark I went on a prayer run (well, walk mostly because I forgot how hot it is here) and truthfully I struggled with wanting to pray. With wanting to hear and listen. I really just wanted a simple “answers” to all the unknowns in our lives right now. Why should I pray when He knows the outcome anyway? But as the minutes wore on and as the sweat dripped down my face the very act of praying and walking on a small island most people cannot locate on a world map seemed to make it more significant. That the things that are often foolish to the world; like a young virgin giving birth to the Savior of the world or walking around a city expecting the walls to crumble or raising a stick at a sea as your people’s only hope of escape, God uses. He uses the foolish things of the world. He does. Like a white girl running through Africa hurling muted petetions and praises heavenward and expecting answers. Why do I pray? Because I needed to be reminded often of my smallness and His vastness. For the experience of listening. For the interaction that we were created to have. Because I desire relationship with my Maker and because of Jesus I know I can confidently but humbly approach Him. That is love. That is the priveldge of being adopted as His.
In my prayers while walking I heard 4 times “my ways are not your ways.” I often do not get such clear words and when I arrived back home I started scouring scripture for its location (a lot harder when you cannot just google it) and it led me to Isaiah. I decided this was the book for me that week. Everyday I read and soaked in and listened. It is has prophecy, harsh warnings, tremedous encouragement, and beautiful praise. It breathed life into me last week.
This past week allowed me to quiet myself and seek more. And I am thankful that in His wisdom He knows that we are proned to wander, to do things “ourselves,” to rely on anything tangiable before the things which require faith in the unseen. He designed us; even our fickleness of believeing with everything in us one day and doubting the next. Loving fiercly and having mercy one minute and being apathitic and prideful the next. I read “I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found” (45:19). He does not ask us to search after Him in vain without promising He will be there. God’s silence can be frustrating but it can be as powerful as His speaking because it drives and shoves us towards the unknown that requires faith. I need more faith. I am asking for more faith. I am overwhelmed by what I see many days. But He spoke again reminding me through Isaiah to remember all the times I have seen miracles; here and in my personal life.
“Remember the things I have done in the past for I alone am God! I am god and there is none like me” 46:9. Remembering to remember and be grateful. I spent a lot of time in that place. But I also read…..
“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the that wilderness.” (43:18-19). Our adoption being halted has seemed like an obstacle with no resolution and it has made me so sad. No, heartbroken. And we have been feeling on the verge of something new lately and asking for clarity. I realized I do not see it. The it of this verse. I see frustrations and unknown and brick walls constructed in the wilderness when maybe He is doing a new thing and beckons me to trust and watch and take steps of faith. I am asking for that Faith.
“Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to His will” (50:4). The image of “opening my understanding” has been profound to me this week. J and I had coffee one morning to talk about what we were feeling, how we felt His leading, and what we are learning. I am profoundly grateful to have a partner who seeks to follow Jesus radically and wants to lead our family to lay down and give up in order to experience the abundance that comes from living for His great name and glory in the world. As we wrote our thoughts and discussed options that seem crazy we felt excited. Like He is indeed doing a new thing. That we will experience more of His goodness as we have faith to walk forward.
“I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the path that you should follow. Oh! That you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and rightouenous rolling over you like sea waves in the sea.” (48:17-18).
God is allowing me more and more to lay down “my” plans for my life for His plans and although in some ways we have more questions than answers now I do feel this peace and hope for what lies ahead, just beyond what I can see. A peace that comes from knowing the object of my faith is what is important. Praying for more and more faith and a clearer understanding of the path He is leading us to.