It’s 5am, and I can’t sleep, so I got out of bed. I know I’ll regret it in a few hours, but I suppose I don’t really have a choice since I’ve already been tossing and turning for a couple of hours. So what better thing to do than to blog!
I’m restless, and all I can think about is housing and fund development. Benson and I are planning to move in a few months, so we’ve been looking for new houses. Don’t worry, we’ll still be in San Diego. Probably even closer to you. 🙂
Anyway, for some reason I feel like I have no faith that God wants to give us an amazing new place to live that lives up to our current awesome house. Ditto on the faith thing for God providing the rest of the money in regards to fundraising. I don’t know what brought me here. These are two areas I usually have a lot of trust in the Lord with, but for some reason I’ve been having a hard time with these lately, and I can’t seem to muster up enough faith to not be anxious about them.
And, here we go.
Am I really expected to “muster” up faith, anyway? I often hear people say, and I’ve said this myself, “God is testing my faith”…but is that even true? I know as we go through life our integrity, character, etc. are tested, maybe by God, maybe just by life, but how much does God actually test our faith?
Is God really like that, that he’d just send us off into trials to test us and see what we’ll do? I think yes, sometimes. It happens in the Old Testament for sure, but I still have to wonder what it all really means.
Like, how are we supposed to have more faith? Do we just sit around and gather all the faith within us to elieve more? I think I’ve about conjured up as much faith as I can with the housing and fund development, and it’s still not enough. Is that really what’s expected of us, because that’s what it sounds like when we talk in terms of “testing faith.” I have a hard time believing that’s all that it is. I have a hard time believing that’s all God really is.
This week I taught the passage from Mark 4 where Jesus calms the storm. Jesus initiates a trip with the disciples to cross the sea by boat, only to later be found asleep in the driver’s seat during a life-threatening storm. The disciples wake him up saying, “Do you not care if we perish?,” really asking “Are you not concerned that we are going to die?” Jesus wakes up responding with, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?,” really saying, “Why are you afraid? Do you not trust me?” Then he calms the wind, and the disciples are left in awe, now realizing that Jesus can control the weather, in addition to the other things they’ve seen him do so far.
Classically, I’ve taught that passage before saying that our battle is Fear vs. Faith–that fear is the enemy to faith. It’s true…but then I’ve just left people with, “So, have more faith. Suck it up, stop fearing, and have more faith.” I had some problems leaving it at that this time. That doesn’t seem like enough. HOW? How do you have more faith? Gathering all the faith within me and believing more just doesn’t seem to fly with me right now.
By this point in Mark, the disciples are still trying to figure out who Jesus is. So far they’ve seen him cast out demons, heal sicknesses, forgive sins, and teach with authority in the synagogue. No experiences with controlling the weather yet. It’s tempting to get annoyed with the disciples for not having faith in Jesus to calm the storm and for questioning whether or not he cares, but really, I understand. How are they supposed to know that Jesus can control the weather? How could that even be expected of them at this point in their relationship with Jesus? Is that a fair test? They’ve never seen him do anything like it.
And, I really doubt Jesus would just send them into the storm just to see how they’d react…to see if they’d pass the test or not. Isn’t that a little boring for Jesus? Really, Jesus? Is that how you want to spend your day? I’d be bored if I were him. Anyway, the disciples have already shown marks of faith. They left their nets and families to follow Jesus!
I think rather than testing their faith in that moment, Jesus actually builds their faith. They don’t come out of the storm feeling ashamed or condemned for not believing in Jesus to calm the storm. They actually come out in awe, with a new understanding that Jesus can even control the wind, and through that storm their picture of Jesus grows a little bigger.
As they experience more and more life with Jesus, their faith in him–their trust in him–grows deeper. Deep trust is built through relationship. It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know very well, especially with your life.
I think of good friends who I’ve had intense conflict with, or who I’ve made it through scary moments with. When we come out the other side in one piece our trust in each other deepens and we realize we can depend even more on each other.
Same with Jesus? Ultimately, God wants our complete trust in him. Sometimes I think he takes us through storms not just to test how much we trust him, but to help us grow in our trust in him. I’m not content with the limited view that God would just test our faith, especially when he is the author and perfecter of it. The Lord loves relationship, and he loves to walk through life with us. By going through storms with him, he expands our understanding of who he is and brings us closer into his heart.
So I guess I have a new question for myself. My lack of faith in the areas I initially mentioned come from some broken trust with Jesus. I’ve already seen him come through in caring and loving ways with both housing and fund development in the past, so somewhere, somehow in the recent course of life my trust with Jesus got broken. What is the fracture in my relationship with Jesus that is causing me to distrust him? Yikes! Something for me to think about.