Apparently, I’m in the middle of a series on faith 🙂 Or at least, when I was praying about what to write about today, more about faith came up.
Last week, I talked about how faith isn’t mustering up feelings and it’s displayed via action. This week, I’ve been thinking about how faith responds to God’s Word. For those of you who don’t know, July is Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s similar to NaNoWriMo (write a novel during the month of November), but the goal is a little more flexible. I was looking at the entry requirement and decided I don’t want to do it. Of course, afterwards, I was struck by, um, not-buyer’s remorse. I know God’s called me to write, and I do have word count goals for each day. I have a goal for finishing my fantasy novel this year (or at least the first 400,000 words). Not really sure how that’s going to work. But! I have other callings too: taking care of my darling children, getting healthy, and working on a super awesome new project with my husband.
My husband, Evan, reminded me that writing, for me, is about working on it faithfully–not about getting 50,000 words written in a month, as amazing as that would be. That’s obeying God’s call to write. And that’s how you know whether you have faith in God’s Word–if you obey it.
I love this quote by Beth Moore: “Self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed… it’s not until the hearing turns into doing that believing leads to blessing” (James, 78-79)
I often struggle with whether I believe God’s Word or not. I agonize over whether I’m obeying it the right way. It’s probably a result of growing up in a shame-based family system where nothing was ever good enough–maybe you can relate. Jennifer Kennedy Dean talks about how obeying God comes from trusting that He’s a good communicator rather than trusting our ability to hear. God is big enough, powerful enough, etc., etc. to be able to communicate past our misconceptions.
It’s like when I tell my kids something and then they apply it incorrectly. For instance, if I tell them to put away all the clean dishes and they respond by emptying the dishwasher, I will gently remind them that “all the clean dishes” includes the hand-washed dishes as well. As we work to apply God’s Word, He corrects us.
The problem is when we don’t apply it. As Beth Moore said, it’s easy to deceive ourselves. We hear a sermon or a verse and think how amazing it is–much like looking at a beautiful painting and recognizing the beauty. Just because we can see that it’s a life-changing principle, that doesn’t mean we’ve applied the principle. Application is the doorway to God’s blessings–not appreciation.
And it is worth it! God’s blessings are amazing and worth the pain of obedience. I think it’s easy to focus on whatever we’re losing in obeying and forget all the blessings on the other side of obedience. Like we were talking about last week, faith is about the “who,” not the “what.” Our who is a God who loves to lavish good gifts on His children and works their best in every situation (James 1:17; Rom. 8:28; Matt. 7:11)! If this is something you struggle with, ask God for help. It took me ages before I really believed that God had my best interests at heart. I’d never had someone who cared about me that way. Our pasts don’t have to handicap us–we can ask God to transform us.
So what about you? Anything that you “believe” but aren’t doing? Anything God’s told you to do that you’ve assented to without actually putting into practice? Or maybe you’re like me, and you just need to let go of the fear of mishearing God and trust Him to communicate well.
Faith is more than assent–after all, the demons believe in God and shudder (James 2:19). It’s about what we do. Let’s step through that doorway and get the treasures God has for us on the other side.