Christian Living, Uncategorized

Unwavering Faith

I can’t believe it’s DECEMBER–as in the last month of 2016! Crazy how fast this year went. I’m trying to wrap up some various projects by the end of the year so I’ve been making lists of what needs done and what needs put on my list for next year. It’s good but also a little overwhelming. There were a lot of goals I had for this year that didn’t happen for various reasons.

In the middle of this, I found myself in Romans 4. If you’ve never read that chapter, it’s pretty amazing. I’d like to focus in on verses 18-22: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” (NIV)

After spending the past few months in James, my brain immediately threw neon lights around that phrase “waver through unbelief.” In case you’re not familiar with that section of James, James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (1:5-8, NIV). There’s this idea that wavering in your faith gets you even less than you started with.

I am blown away by Abraham’s faith. I can’t even imagine the way he could walk that line–to acknowledge the truth vs. falling into denial but to still hang onto his faith. It’s incredible to me that he could take an honest assessment of things. So often I feel like faith is portrayed as this ability to lie to yourself–to ignore the reality of whatever the situation is. But that’s not faith at all. Faith is living in the truth of whatever is going on–regardless of how overwhelming or impossible it seems–and then trusting God to work it out for your good, for my good (Rom. 8:28).

As we are smack dab in the midst of the crazy stress that often constitutes the holidays, trying to finish out the year well, trying to figure out how to start next year well, I need the reminder that God can work all that out. I hope you can hang onto that too. It doesn’t matter how huge the situation is–after all, Abraham and Sarah were both impotent but God still worked things out for them to conceive–God can do something amazing in and through it!


A Faithful Heart

Nehemiah 9:7-8 “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.” (NIV)

I’m still in Nehemiah and this was the passage that struck me today. In her study Kelly Minter had us look at why God says Abraham is faithful. To make a long story short, he’s obedient–he leaves his home and travels to the land God shows him (Canaan) and he intends to sacrifice his son.

I love that Abraham isn’t perfectly faithful: He tries to fulfill God’s promise by taking matters into his own hands and having a son with Hagar. He gives in to fear and lies about Sarah’s identity, not once but twice. Who knows what his attitude was in the midst of the messiness of life? Yet God says that he had a faithful heart.

I was reminded of the obedient son in Matthew 21:28-30. He says he won’t do what his father wants, but then he changes his mind and obeys. But he’s the one who is held up as the better son (the other son says he’ll obey, but never does).

It was encouraging to think of faithful obedience in terms of actions vs. attitudes. I’m not saying attitudes don’t matter–obviously, they do. But sometimes my obedience is fearful or reluctant. I love that there’s something in the tiny kernel of faith propelling me forward that pleases God. I love that it’s possible for me to have “a faithful heart” even if it’s not always perfectly full of faith.

Romans 4:3b “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (NIV)