GREATER FAITH

white car traveling near trees during daytimeTherefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Romans 5:1, 2

My husband, his mother and I spent four days in Georgia due to Hurricane Florence. We hitched up our travel trailer and headed inland to escape potential destruction and death. This was going to be a big one our Governor dutifully told us!!  

I love the excitement of an evacuation. It’s a time to pack, clean and move out. It’s time spent with my husband doing the things that we enjoy doing. All daily responsibilities are quickly forgotten only to be replaced with adventure and opportunity. Who or what will we encounter on our trip.

I have a set-in-stone routine when I’m at home. My time with Jesus is first and foremost on my list. I’m blessed to only work as needed at the assisted living community, my volunteer positions start later in the day, and the private-duty client that I transport to and from appointments once or twice a week, allow me to spend unlimited mornings in prayer and meditation.

However, when on a camping trip, my time is shortened due to what’s happening around me. There is the dog that whines because he can’t decide whether he wants in or out, golf carts that circle around the campsite in search of the dumpster or just simply curious as to who has the better recreational vehicle; I can assure you, mine is not the one.

Our home away from home is about twenty-one feet long. It has one slide out which widens our living arrangements just a touch. There is a couch that seats about three, depending on the size of the people, and at night it opens up and becomes the dog bed. Our bed is a full-sized queen with a very comfortable mattress which we purchased ourselves. The kitchen has two sinks, three burners, a fridge, microwave and minimal cabinet space. The bathroom has a tiny shower that I often bump my elbows against, the toilet works as it should, and the sink is good for brushing teeth and shaving. All in all, it’s a box but what fun we have when we are out in it.

I try my best to keep my quiet time as I do when I’m home, but it’s impossible when sitting in a lawn chair at a table that sits low and wiggles. I’m not able to spread out all my Christian paraphernalia, write comfortably, or talk and pray out loud as I would normally do in my office. Bedtime prayers on my knees are eliminated completely because of lack of room. My cherished moments with Jesus are just not the same.

We left for Georgia on Wednesday morning and made it back to Charleston by Saturday afternoon. I felt a little let down because the “fun” was over. It was time to get back to work and responsibilities were looming.

Sunday morning, I sat down with Jesus, with heaviness in my heart. I was disappointed in my lack of faithfulness to spend time in prayer which caused me to feel torn and distracted. My focus was not where it should have been. I had to really be intentional with my time with Him on that morning but I was determined to get back to where I was before we had left. I had missed Him and our lengthy times together. I was sorry that I didn’t spend as much time with Him as I would have liked while I was away. Before my funk could deepen further, I heard the Holy Spirit:

“Hang on one minute! You aren’t going down that road! You cannot revert back to those old thought patterns. You are not that same person! Listen to me…did you feel fear and anxiety while you were away?”

I took a moment to think:

“Nope, not a hint!”

Truthfully, I wasn’t in any kind of emotional distress. My daughter stayed to weather the storm with her best friend and her boyfriend. My sister-in-law stayed back with her family and there was not a drop of fear for any of them. I completely trusted God in whatever the outcome would be. I had faith that he would keep my family safe!

Where did this Great Faith come from? This is something that I’ve not experienced before. There has always been an opposing emotion in everything that I do. Oh, how thankful I am for this gift, praise be to God. I cannot begin to explain this newfound freedom; where are the chains that held me to fear and anxiety? This is a life-changer!

So, why am I beating myself up for my limited quiet time on this evacuation camping trip? All was well, so what’s this all about? Why is this feeling of failure creeping up on me? Have I truly offended God by not giving Him as much time as I do when I am at home? Why am I even focused on this? Shouldn’t I be praising God for greater faith? He rescued me from a life of complete bondage and if you’ve followed my writing, you can surely see where I started and compare it to where I am now.

I give all credit to God. I certainly didn’t do any of it!!

Charles Stanley says in his daily devotion from September 15, 2018:

“God is a jealous shepherd–He wants His followers to rely entirely upon Him. He draws us through valleys in order to remove every habit, thought pattern, or external crutch that we use instead of trusting Him…Believers can shout ‘I trust God’ from the mountain because they have learned to live by faith in the valley. Walking in the shadow of evil is difficult and frightening work. But when we surrender to whatever the Lord has to teach us in this dark place, our spirit is quieted and our faith is strengthened.”

I could feel signs of a weakened faith on that first morning back in quiet, but it wasn’t because of what I did or what God didn’t do; the reason was because Satan was trying to take God’s glory from Him. His mission was to get my eyes off what God did in my time away. He did not want me to realize and understand that transformation has taken place within me. I am a new person and it is because of Jesus!

Yes, I admit, for a minute, I did entertain the thoughts that were deceitfully spoken into my mind. I did feel doubtful about who I am in Christ and what He’s done in my life thus far. I did want to shy away from the opportunities that have been given to me before the evacuation started. None of it sounded doable! Who am I to lead and speak for God?

Yes, I was excited with what God was doing in my life before I left for Georgia, and I’m not about to let progress slip through my fingers on account of what Satan says. I’m determined to sit in this moment of quiet until it all comes back. I’m not giving up because I am a child of God with a purpose.  

The Holy Spirit came alive within me and filled me till overflowing with His love and strength and there was no way that I was going to close my Bible and walk away. He was fighting for me, and I could not flee the scene. He showed me Roman’s 4:5:

When some people learn that they are saved by God through faith, they start to worry, ‘Do I have enough faith?’ They wonder, ‘is my faith strong enough to save me?’ These people miss the point. It is Jesus Christ who saves us, not our feelings or our actions, and He is strong enough to save us no matter how weak our faith is.

I had a conversation with a friend and she reminded me that faith is active. When we have faith, whatever situation we are in, we are actively relying on and pursuing God. I was moving in faith while evacuated. I was relying on God! My time in quiet is an opportunity to grow deeper in my faith, wisdom and, most importantly, in my relationship with God. These times are a learning period for when I need to actively utilize my faith. It’s like a boot camp for what’s to come. I was able to enjoy evacuation, without the worry and fear for my family, because of my faith in God; isn’t this much higher than a quiet time?

Romans 4:10-12

Paul’s point here is that the “ritual” did not earn Abraham his acceptance by God; he had been blessed long before the ceremony was introduced. Abraham found favor with God by faith alone…Ceremonies and rituals serve as reminders of our faith as well as instruct new believers, but we should not think that they give us any special merit before God. They are outward signs and seals that demonstrate inner belief and trust. The focus of our faith should be on Christ and His saving work, not on our own actions.

God doesn’t stop loving us because we don’t have ample time to spend with Him. Daily routines will change but that doesn’t indicate a cease in blessings. He is always with us, working for our good, clearing the way, and pushing us forward. There are no boundaries on His love! He died a painful death for us! Would you take on all the sins of the world, be mocked and beaten, allow nails to be driven into your hands and feet and hang until dead with two other criminals. I think not!!

God desires that we spend time with Him. Intimacy is created in time alone. He has things that He wants to share with us such as wisdom that will help each of us succeed in our life.

Hosea 8:13

The people’s sacrifices had become a mere ritual, and God refused to accept them. We have rituals too: attending church, observing a regular quiet time, celebrating Christian holidays, praying before meals. Rituals give us security in a changing world. Because they are repeated often, they can drive God’s lessons deep within us. Rituals can be abused…we should not reject the rituals of our worship, but we must be careful to think about why we do them. Focus on God and perform every act with sincere devotion.

It’s time for me to take off the training wheels! It’s time to grow up and live a faith-filled life. Life is too short to live in fear and anxiety. We don’t have to succumb to such emotional distress because God is with us in all the things that we do each day. We can put boundaries on Him in the way that we think or the actions that we take, turning our head in the opposite direction, not listening and doing things our own way. Trust and have faith that through all circumstances, He’s there and He never gives up.

I challenge you to spend at least ten minutes in quiet. Shut everything down and just listen. I’d be interested to hear what comes to your mind.

On my dry erase board I wrote, “Lay it all down, it’s a choice.” This reminds me that I can turn towards God in faith or I can look the other way.

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The Bible used in this post is a New Living Translation Study Bible. The Scriptures that I refer to comes from the study notes from that particular Scripture.

 

 

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